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In an age where distractions reign supreme, staying productive has become a lot harder to do. This is evident for entrepreneurs responsible for the day-to-day operations of their business. Use these actionable productivity tips to take your productivity to the next level.
1. Commit to Becoming More Productive
The first step in any goal is to commit and productivity is no different. You have to commit to becoming a more productive person.
You’ll need to dedicate yourself to your goal of being more productive and the activities that are necessary to meet it.
2. Stay Energetic
Energy can run out so you have to constantly re-energize yourself. Prioritize sleep but don’t oversleep either. Aim for 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night and try to take 1 to 3-hour power naps to re-energize during the day.
Staying energetic is about knowing when to recharge. Do your most important tasks during peak energy times. Recharge when you’re least productive.
3. Turn off Your Smartphone Notifications
Shut off non-essential notifications. Smartphone notifications interrupt your concentration and as a result, you lose time. It takes several minutes to regain concentration after an interruption. This is according to Gloria Mark from the University of California.
But, it’s not always practical to shut off all notifications. So you should manage them depending on the situation. For example, you can shut off all notifications except alerts that need action on your part.
4. Focus on Income-Producing Activities
What are the activities that can make you money? Focus on the activities that generate revenue for your business.
Revenue producing activities won’t generate income all the time. You have to be consistent. Do you need to make cold calls or emails? Can you reach out to potential clients on social media? Should you be sending “InMails” on LinkedIn? These are some examples of income-producing activities.
Balance your focus. There should be at least 50 percent focus on income-generating activities.
5. Use The 2-Minute Rule
The two-minute rule crushes procrastination and can help you stick to good habits.
The general idea is to do anything that will take 2 minutes or less right away. Whether it’s paperwork or a quick response to an email, you should do it if it will take 2 minutes or less.
Most of the tasks that we procrastinate about aren’t actually as time-consuming as we think they are. The 2-minute rule will help you start and finish tasks that you would normally put aside for later.
6. Set SMART Goals
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Manage expectations and increase the likelihood of being successful with SMART goals.
- Specific – Your goal should be clear and well defined.
- Measurable – You should be able to measure success in some way.
- Attainable – Make sure the aim is achievable.
- Realistic – Your goal should be within reach and with relevance.
- Timely – Make sure you schedule enough time to archive the goal but never take too much time (e.g. achieve XYZ by this date).
7. Use a Checklist
Checklists are old school but they still work. Before you start your day, make a checklist of the most important things that you need to do that day.
As you cross off things in your checklist, you may feel a huge sense of accomplishment. That is a good thing because it’ll make you happier throughout the day.
A checklist should keep you consistent and ensure the completeness of each task.
8. Make Time for Critical Things
This seems simple enough but more often than not, we fail to set time aside for important things like taxes. The result is that we end up having to rush our work.
Develop a habit of setting time aside for urgent or crucial activities.
9. Create a Plan for Managing Your Time
No matter what kind of business you run, you should have a plan for managing your time. Decide on your day-to-day business operations and create a plan to manage time. This can increase productivity.
10. Use Tools to Boost Productivity
Use software to help you improve productivity. Software tools are great for increasing the overall efficiency of businesses.
Productive entrepreneurs use tools to prioritize tasks, communicate, delegate, for invoicing and record-keeping. Tools also help employees produce more for the organization.
11. Schedule Things
You should schedule most things and change your schedule if it’s important. Having a schedule can help you stay on track for completing the most important tasks of the day. Don’t forget to give yourself enough time to complete each task.
12. Track Your Results
This can help you measure success and change things that aren’t working.
13. Use Email Strategically
Do you need to respond to emails as soon as they arrive? Should you send an email or make a phone call?
Emails can take up a lot of your time if you don’t set boundaries. You can set up a good autoresponder and check emails once a day. The autoresponder will let senders know when you review emails.
Furthermore, avoid sending emails for things you can address by walking to a cubicle or an office. But if you must keep a record of your communications, send emails for everything.
14. Pick One Thing and Do That
We all have slow or tired days once in a while. On days like this, you should pick one thing and do it. Pick the most important thing that you can do for your business that day and focus on it.
15. What’s Your Work Environment Like?
You can’t time manage well if your environment invites chaos.
Try to work in an environment that invites creativity and organization. If your work environment makes you feel like working a whole lot, it’s a good thing.
16. Create Sustainable Habits
Pick habits that you can sustain. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll be in every networking event in your city but is it sustainable?
When picking habits that can benefit your business, make sure you can be consistent with it. Many things lose their effectiveness when they’re inconsistent.
17. Delegate Tasks
Delegation is the earliest form of automation. By delegating tasks that are mundane, you can create time for the important stuff. You can also delicate important tasks to qualified staff members.
18. Avoid Procrastination
Easier said than done but procrastination can kill a business if it persists. As mentioned earlier, use the 2-minute rule to avoid procrastinating necessary tasks.
Whenever you feel like putting off an important task for later, remember that time doesn’t wait for you. Tomorrow is never certain. This alone is a good enough motivator to start for most people.
19. Take Breaks
This is where many entrepreneurs struggle.
Owners of businesses are typically accustomed to working. So they often forget to take breaks. Whenever possible, take breaks after each task or set time aside for it. Breaks serve as creative fuel, a way for you to step back and give your mind room for more creativity.
Also, breaks can help you avoid mental stagnation and physical inactivity. Especially, if your work involves a lot of sitting down.
20. Stay Organized
Organization is very important, especially in business. Avoid spending too much time looking for things by keeping your office organized. Additionally, a cluttered work environment can make your mind feel cluttered too.
21. Prioritize Tasks
Prioritization allows you to focus on the most important tasks first. A good rule of thumb is to do the hardest tasks first.
22. Working On Your Business vs. In Your Business
Are you working on your business or in your business?
For many entrepreneurs, they’re doing both. Working in your business is necessary during the early stages. But spend at least 1 to 5 hours a week working on your business.
Working on your business involves making long-term investments. Things like finding ways to make your processes more efficient and developing systems. Working in your business involves things like handling client requests and deliverables.
23. Set Aside Time for Yourself
A business is a reflection of the entrepreneur and if you’re not happy, it can hurt how you conduct business.
You should make time for yourself. Designate one day of the week where you can go and have fun doing something else. Whether it’s fishing, boating or binge-watching your favorite TV shows, do it if it makes you happy.
24. Manage Your Expectations
We often want to accomplish a lot of things in one day but the reality is that we can end up hurting our productivity. This is because we can lose focus.
Rushing to complete something often removes the focus required for it to be remarkable. Remember this whenever you’re tempted to overfill your day.
25. Avoid Websites and Apps That Waste Your Time
There are plenty of websites and applications that are complete time wasters (e.g. gaming, social, etc.). Visit websites that are vital for work more than you do these time-waster sites.
You can also schedule the time you spend on these sites. For example, you can commit to visiting these websites only when work is done no matter what.
But, we don’t all have the self-control of Elon Musk. So you can also use an app like Block Sites to block time-waster sites when concentration is required. The app lets you specify how long you block a particular site.
26. Do the Most Important Things First
Tackle your most important tasks first. These are often the tasks that need the most time and concentration. The beginning of the day is usually when people have the most energy. So we’re generally more productive then.
Doing the most crucial tasks first ensures those deliverables don’t become bigger burdens.
27. Let Go of Perfect
Striving for perfection is important but it becomes a problem when we’re obsessed with it. Perfection is the reason many entrepreneurs fail to launch.
To avoid becoming obsessed with perfection, learn to accept that good is also a win. No reason to keep tweaking something that is already good if it prevents you from launching. You can always return to the task and improve it later. For example, we return to old articles every few months to improve them.
28. Use Automation
Embrace automation. Use it to improve how much work you get done. You can automate much of the work involved with email marketing, invoicing, and others. This improves time-efficiency, which increases productivity and can save you money.
29. Split Your Screen
Installing an additional screen on your computer can boost productivity. You’ll be able to view multiple things at once. This is useful whenever you have to refer to data while completing a task. But additional screens cost money.
The good news is there’s a better way. You can split your current screen using software. Microsoft Windows 10 has Snap Assist, built-in software that can split your screen. You can enable the feature by going to Start > Settings > System > Multitasking.
On a MAC system, hover your mouse over the green icon located on the top left-hand side of your Window. The icon looks like this:
30. Use Templates
Create templates for documents that you use regularly. Create documents such as sales, response, and customer support templates. This way, you’ll spend less time writing the same emails or documents.
31. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts
Knowing the right keyboard shortcuts can save you lots of time. Almost every program has keyboard shortcuts. Start by learning the keyboard shortcuts on your MAC or Windows computer system. Then learn the ones on the applications you use often.
32. Avoid Multitasking
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking drops productivity. Your brain uses a stop/start process every time you switch attention. The more the brain goes through the process of start/stop/start, your energy depletes much faster. Plus you waste time.
Thus, the best approach is to focus on one task at a time.
These Productivity Tips Work
Implementing some of these productivity tips will be beneficial. Many of us fail several times to become more productive before we get it right. So don’t get discouraged if the beginning is tough. Keep at it and high productivity will soon become second nature.