This week’s blog post is all about productivity, how to make the most of your time and some tools to help you on this mission. We all know how hard it is to be productive, it’s so easy to fall into a social media hole… You know the one, you check notifications and then an hour later you’re still scrolling through your feed.
Being productive is all about being self aware of how you’re spending your time as well as changing habits and routines.
These tips and tools will help you to become more productive and achieve your goals in 2018!
Don’t reply to emails as they come in
This one is a little controversial but if you find yourself spending a lot of your day constantly answering emails in dribs and drabs, dedicate a block of time twice a day to answer emails. This will ensure your time is used better while customers continue to get quick responses.
Schedule time to procrastinate
Sometimes we all just need to do nothing, to waste time away and to have a breather from time constraints. That’s absolutely fine! But you might find it beneficial to schedule that time in – pop it in your planner as “whatever time” and stick to the outlined timeframe. During this time, you can do whatever you want to waste time. By blocking time out to do so, you’ll feel less inclined to procrastinate during actual working time.
Structure your time
Most of my clients are shocked when they realise how long they spend on certain tasks, they think that task A only takes them 20 minutes a day, when really it takes an hour and a half. Track your time using a time sheet or an app and work out where your hours are being spent. This will help you to realise what you can cut down on, outsource and use your time better.
Organise your workspace
Ever find yourself spending 10 minutes looking for a pen, or searching for that item that you know you put in a certain place but has just disappeared? If this sounds familiar to you then you might benefit from organising your workspace and giving everything a specific home. Not only will you feel lighter and more organised, you won’t be wasting time finding things because they will be in their designated space!
Consolidate your online life
This one takes some getting used to but it’s invaluable for streamlining your life. By using tools such as Hootsuite and dedicated email clients you can do everything from 1 place. Connect all of your social media accounts to Hootsuite and set up the various feeds, this allows you to see all of your social media accounts in one place. The same goes for an email client such as Freshdesk, it lets you answer Facebook messages, emails, and so much more from one platform.
Get a notebook
Oh yes, stationery lovers will like me for this one! Go out and buy all the notebooks… or just one will do! By having a notebook for you to jot ideas down as they hit you, you’ll be less inclined to get sidelined by them – or forget them! Keep one by your bed, one on your desk, and one in the kitchen (I often get sparks of inspiration when cooking!) Then, dedicate a time at a later day to formulate and organise what you’ve written down.
Self care is really important because it ensures you’re performing to the best of your ability. If you have a really worn out car, with no oil in the system and no fuel in the tank it’s not going to perform well. The same goes for us! Stay rested, hydrate and exercise; you’ll find these really make a difference to your productivity, and of course your well being!
Set regular hours
As a small business owner it’s all too easy to have a laid back mindset of work when you feel like it, and whilst this industry is brilliant for flexibility, it can often lead to unproductiveness due to a lack of structure. Try having set hours if your circumstances allow for it, and make sure you have set holidays and days off too! This will give you a little bit more rhythm to your business and ensure you don’t burn out.
Do the worst task first
I know, I hate this one too but it does work! If you find yourself moving a certain task further down the list or to another day because you don’t want to tackle it, just do it! By starting your day with the worst task you know the rest of your day can only get better, and it eliminates a feeling of dread – and thus procrastinating getting to the task.
Having self imposed deadlines will give you accountability for completing tasks. Even if there are no real deadlines from customers or clients, setting them yourself can keep you on track and ensure you don’t stray from the task at hand. It is a very self disciplined thing to do but it is generally worthwhile as you will find yourself getting more done.
Plan out your day
Spend 10 minutes in a morning working out what order you’re going to do things, how long for, when your breaks are and much more. This will give you a solid focus throughout the day. Don’t forget to allow for life to get in the way, tasks taking longer than expected and general hiccups along the way, allow yourself some buffer time.
As a Virtual Assistant I can’t write an article about productivity and making the most of your time without including outsourcing. Delegating your tasks to a VA is a surefire way to save you time and give you more hours in the day to focus on other tasks – thus making you more productive!
There are so many apps on the various stores for productivity and they’re worth investigating as they can assist you with your mission to be more productive. We’ve included a few of our favourites below to save you time finding them!
- Asana – Like a fancy to do list with abilities to track your productivity, manage multiple projects and arrange your day in various formats. Available on Desktop, Google Play and Apple Store
- Forest – Forest is an app that keeps you away from your phone and focused on work. It plants a tree on the app which grows when you’re not using your phone, but will be killed if you leave the app before the allotted time frame. Available as a Chrome extension, Google Play and Apple Store
- Pocket – A read it later app, when you come across something you want to read online, save it to your pocket and read it later! Available on Desktop, Google Play and Apple Store
- Evernote – Evernote is basically your online notebook, journal, diary and so much more. They advertise it as being your second brain, and it’s not far off! Available as a Chrome Extension, Google Play and Apple Store
- ToDoIst – This is an online task management app with a really easy to use interface. Really simple to get your head around! Available on Desktop, Google Play and Apple Store
- Cozi – Cozi is a brilliant team/family calendar app, you can assign colours and activities/events to various people that all share access so you can see who has appointments, meetings and commitments on any given day. Available on Desktop, Google Play and Apple Store
- Grammarly – A free grammar checker that eliminates mistakes in writing. Does what it says on the tin! Available as a Chrome extension
- Toggl – Toggl is a brilliant time tracking app that is easy to navigate, quick to track and has really clear reports to see where you’re spending your time. Available as a Chrome Extension, Google Play and Apple Store
Most of all, remember the quote “Work Smarter, Not Harder”. Good luck with increasing your productivity, we’d love to know how you get on!
Let us know in the comments or visit us on social media!