We’ve all had those days where no matter how much you seem to do, you just don’t make any headway. Surprisingly, being busy is not the same as being productive and the two very often get confused.
That’s because we’ve been conditioned to be busy, to work hard. The thing is, though, working smart yields far greater results and as a bonus doesn’t leave you feeling so incredibly exhausted.
Here are 5 tips that will help you increase your productivity starting now:
1. Work hard, play hard
“Pfft,” I can hear you say. “There’s no such thing as playing in my industry.”
A good day off is something that almost every entrepreneur is unfamiliar with. Working hard is great, and it’ll certainly get you where you want your business to go but don’t forget to kick it back every now and then too. In this case, sipping champers on the beach every fortnight is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Studies have set about proving that this balance of work and play is essential and have found that productivity does, in fact, decrease when we get less rest. That means that you could keep being busy and never really make a dent in your workload – a cycle that will likely result in an early burnout.
A great rule to go by is to be consistent and work for increments at a time. I live by The Pomodoro Technique; set a timer for 25 minutes, work until the timer goes off, take a short break of 5 minutes then reset the time for another 25 minutes, rinse and repeat until you have done 4 “Poms” then take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. Bingo! You’ll be amazed at what you have achieved.
2. Stay away from time killers – they Are your enemies
They’re called time killers for a reason and they’ll quickly waste the hours of your day before you can blink twice.
If you find that you get stuck into something that doesn’t directly or indirectly help you to further your goals, put it aside and don’t touch it again until your work is done.
3. Just do it
Nike has a great motto, let’s be honest. Just getting the job done is a secret all productive and successful people share. If you’re under a mountain of work, have an unusually high task list for the day, or simply just don’t feel like doing anything, resist the urge to run your bad luck through your mind a thousand times and instead of contemplating how much you have to do – just do it. Before you know it your mountain will all but disappear and you’ll have more than enough time to get some good rest and do the things you love doing.
4. Just do it… everyday
Routine is the bain of many an entrepreneur’s existence. However, trust me when I say that success is a consistent routine of small things. Even if you start out doing 5 minutes of work and gradually build up to 25 minute sprints. Just like growing a fruit tree – The tree will blossom and bear fruit only under the right conditions –enough sunlight, water and daily caretaking. Your business venture needs daily watering and occasional pruning.
While this sounds like it will add to your workload, it actually does the very opposite. Maintaining something is almost always easier and cheaper than fixing it.
5. Set up a good system
If you’ve got a solid foundation in place, the above mentioned points become a natural part of the flow. It’s also much easier to grow when your start-up phase is well mapped out. Spend a few days every month maintaining the skeleton structure of your tasks in order to free up your time doing admin daily.
Automate, integrate and cross-pollinate the processes to make your workflow easy and efficient. When you find your flow, stick to it.
Be sure to look after your body. It’s a well-known fact that health can greatly impact productivity. If you’re too tired, too hungry, too thirsty, or overly stressed out, you’ll not be able to concentrate and give your all to the work at hand. Pack a good lunch in the morning, even if you’re working at home, so that you are sure to get all the right nutrients, and you don’t have to spend precious time going to the local shops for takeaways or preparing food.