5 Simple Ways to Maximise Your Productivity & Just Get Sh*t Done
You pull yourself out of bed at 6am, determined to get ahead of the day before it begins. You make yourself a caffeinated elixir, convinced it will pull you out of your zombie-esque state. In front of your computer, you groan at your inbox - somehow, it's already backed up with emails. “Does nobody sleep these days?”, you rage.
Logically, you want to start the day with a clean slate (ha! to ‘starting the day’ and double ha! to a ‘clean slate’). So you set yourself the task of getting it down to zero before you ‘really’ start your work. But just as you’re about to do that — whoa, did you see the video of the guy who rescued the puppies while on a roadtrip? Oh, and that amazing Mark Zuckerberg Harvard commencement speech? Wait, your sister just sent through the most adorbs photo of your niece eating cake! Oooh and the old uni crew are planning that gin weekend. All the while your inbox continues to ‘ding’— becoming more and more unmanageable as you get lost in the internet spiral.
Finally, you tame that wild inbox and sit down to get some content out of your brain and onto paper (it’s about 11 am by this point, by the way). As you type, you remember that the graphics haven’t come back for your last eBook, so you stop to follow up with your designer. Drats - now there’s only 20 mins left until you are in a meeting. Not enough time to get any meaningful content out! You decide to make a start on this week’s newsletter instead, which will be promoting a new program launching in 4 weeks. Speaking of which, you need to get the Opt-in pages ready for that campaign. So you drop the newsletter, open your sales funnel program and DAMMIT. You are late for the meeting.
This? This is overwhelming and exhausting. Most importantly, it is NOT sustainable. If you found yourself nodding like a doggy on a dashboard at that scenario, you really need to rethink the way you work. By adopting a few simple productivity hacks, you will get results. Not only will this allow you to get everything done, it may even free up some time to do (gasp!) non-work related things! I won’t lie, I’m not quite sure what ‘non-work related’ means either, but I do know that you will be less exhausted — both mentally and physically. So whatever you choose to do, you will be present in that moment and richer in your relationships for it.
Here’s where to start:
1. Break free from the shackles of your emails - allocate designated time
Think of your overflowing inbox like productivity quicksand — once you’re sucked in it’s damn near impossible to get yourself out! A great way to stop being a slave to your inbox is by having set times to check your emails. And stick with it! Constant responsiveness on your emails hurts you in two places: you never get off your email and do any DAMN work! Aaaannnd, you reinforce an expectation with your clients that you are on-call for their every need and desire 24/7. I don’t care how amazing and generous you are, this is not sustainable and certainly not healthy. And I won’t have it. Any of it!
Pick just one or two times each day (perhaps morning and afternoon) and dedicate it to tackling your inbox from the bottom up. Aim for a clear inbox at the end of every day. I cannot tell you how much your sanity will thank you for it!
Pro tip: Action each email as you read it — whether that’s replying, deleting or delegating to an appropriate person. Don’t dwell on it, just take action. Whatever it is that you need to do, just get it out of your inbox.
2. Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise
Let’s face it, there’s never nothing to do. Even if you don’t have any urgent work tasks due that day, there’s always that newsletter, social media post or webpage update that you would love to do to boost your biz. But remember, there is a difference between urgent and important — you need to be able to make that distinction. Tackle the urgent ones, with the hardest thing first. Then have a look at the important items and treat them like emails: action them, delete them if they aren’t as important as you initially thought or delegate them to the right person. Having a never-ending to-do list can actually work against you. It’s overwhelming and stops you from focusing on what you actually really need to get done.
Pro tip: Before you start, decide on the three most important things you need to accomplish that day. That’s all you need to focus on — anything else is a total bonus.
Okay, all you planning aficionados out there, this is for you. I personally plan daily, weekly and sometimes (read: most of the time) monthly. They don’t look the same though. Daily planning has specific actions, weekly planning tells me when I am doing what and my monthly planning shows me major events, like when I would hypothetically take a holiday.
So, this is one for weekly planning. This is best done at the end of your work week (whatever that means for you). Think about what you want to focus on for next week — then actually map out when you are doing to get that done. Monday’s not looking great with four consultations, but Tuesday only has a morning workshop. So block out three hours in the afternoon to finalise the content of your newest podcast. By committing to each action and focussing on getting that outcome, you can even take your planning and your business to the next, uber-organised level. You also prevent over-committing.
Pro tip: Avoid scheduling in more than half your day though, as you need to account for the fact that unexpected things will come up —such is the nature of life!
4. No more ‘dings’ - eliminate distractions
Be honest, how many time did you check your phone while reading this blog? It can be really hard to get sh*t done when your phone is constantly buzzing with notifications that your aunty liked your Facebook post or Aesop has a new hand cream (although, yay!). So, do yourself a favour and turn off all of your notifications on your phone and on your computer. Think you need to know about your emails as soon as they come in? No. You don’t. Especially now that you’ve got set times to check it!
Read point 3 re: setting expectations!
You can even use websites like Cold Turkey or SelfControl to block distracting websites on your computer.
Pro tip: Oh and while you’re at it, check how many windows you’ve got open on your browser right now. Oh, there’s 11? How’s that working for you? Close em’ all — they’re doing your focus no favours and I’d hazard a guess that at least one of them is Constantly.In.Your.Face.Book...err, I mean Facebook.
5. Figure out what to outsource
This might sound a little crazy, but you don’t actually have to do everything yourself. Anything can be outsourced these days, from social media marketing to invoicing and inbox management. When you sit down to do something, ask yourself, “is this growing my business or maintaining it?”. If it is the latter, you are not the right person to be doing it. Not because you can’t, but because you are the only one who can do the former.
By allowing a virtual assistant to take care of the arduous tasks, you are free to focus on doing what you do best - running your kickass empire, of course! Because at the end of the day, you’re a business owner — not a business operator.
Pro tip: Get a virtual assistant. Seriously, it will change your world.