Hands up if you want to get more done today… and every day. Hands up if you end the day feeling defeated because you just haven’t checked off all of the items on your to-do list. Pet-preneurs, whether you work from home or work outside the home then come home and toil away at your pet passion project, are tugged in myriad directions. Regaining control will help you accomplish more and lead you down the road of productivity.
Here are some ways you can be instantly productive: 7 tips to get more done
Work with your energy ebbs and flows. If you’re starting your day tired, you will not get stuff done – simple as that. Work on your most taxing projects when you are at your highest energy. When your energy is ebbing during the day, get up and move around. Take the dogs for a walk. Recharge your batteries. You just can’t work at peak productivity if you’re operating on minimal energy.
Fewer is better. If you’re taking on every project that comes your way you will eventually run into a traffic jam of deadlines and stress. If you take on a lot of projects, make sure you stagger the deadlines. If possible, and if it will reduce your stress, take on fewer projects. Clear up the ones that are on your plate before you take on more.
Over-committing is death to productivity. It’s easy to overestimate how much we can accomplish in a day. I know there are days I sit down and work on my time blocking and am convinced I can write 10 blog posts in a day AND get through the other 11 items on my list. I should know better, but there are still days when I over-commit. Refer back to the “fewer is better” paragraph above.
Time-block uninterrupted time. Every time you’re interrupted you lose your momentum and, according to a Microsoft study, “it takes the brain 15 minutes to regain focus after losing your train of thought.” Your train of thought can be interrupted by an email ping or a Facebook notification. Turn off notifications. Block out uninterrupted time and get to work. One caveat for pet parents is that it’s more than likely that your beloved pets will not adhere to your time blocking schedule and you may need to deal with interruptions from them for “outs,” a snuggle, or a snack. Refer back to “work with your energy ebbs and flows” and take advantage of the interruption to recharge your batteries before jumping back in.
Busy work is a productivity killer. It is much easier to check off easy to-do items on your list, believe me, I know. Would I rather work on the book chapters that are due March 1, or would I rather file paperwork, get rid of pens that don’t work, or work on social media tasks? Well, if I did the latter, I’d be checking three things off my list as compared to the former where I’d “only” be completing a chapter. See where I am going with this? I might look more productive because I checked more items off my list, but I am not working on priority projects. When I do my time blocking schedule I apply the Pareto principle of time management: I focus on 20 percent of the tasks that yield 80 percent of the results. Getting these chapters done fulfills the publishing contract I was given and moves me forward in my highest priority item for 2017. Prioritize your highest impact tasks–those that will propel you and your business forward.
Capture your thoughts. Just as you should be keeping your editorial calendar filled, you need to keep your creative well filled. Capture your bursts of brilliance so they don’t float away. Many bursts of brilliance come at inopportune times–you’re driving, you’re in the shower, you’re just getting ready to drift off to sleep, you’re at a dinner party. Keep a notebook or your smartphone ready and capture those ideas before they escape.
Make big projects more manageable. When you are handed a big project you should immediately begin breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks of to-dos. If you map out the trajectory and put deadlines in place for small milestones, you are more likely to achieve them. Also, know that simply moving one to-do item from one day to the next will sap your mental energy. Stop procrastinating and get to it–even if it’s just for a time block of fifteen minutes.
What stands in your way of daily productivity? What are your stumbling blocks? Let us know in the comments below.
Robbi Hess is an award-winning author, full-time writer, newspaper columnist, writing coach and time-management guru. She works with bloggers and solopreneurs and blogs at All Words Matter.