As a solo parent and small business owner, I face productivity challenges pretty much all day, every day. From social media overload, email lists, and client projects to chauffeuring children, tidying the house, and making dinner…it seems I’m always being pulled in opposite directions. And while I chose the freelance lifestyle for a variety of reasons (we could do a whole series on my psychological strengths and weaknesses :)), it can be a stressful and completely unproductive way to live if I let it.
Fortunately, I’ve learned…through trials and tribulations…a few quick and effective ways to manage my days so that I get the most production in the least amount of time. These aren’t new ideas. I wish I could claim them as being straight from my brain. But give them a try and see how different your own days look as a result. (Note: you don’t have to be a freelancer to use these tips. They work for anyone!)
- Dedicate: when you’re trying to be productive, you absolutely need dedication. Not only to the work at hand, but also to the time and place. By setting aside specific times at specific places to do your work, you are creating a habit–a routine–that says to your mind and to those around you, “It’s time to get stuff done.” So dedicate a specific time and place each and every day that you’re going to work on your task(s) and show up without fail.
- Focus: it may seem sensible to try and work on several things at once to get more done in less time. But research has shown that multi-taskers actually take 50% longer to accomplish one task and make 50% more errors than people who have a laser focus on one thing. By devoting all of your time and attention to just one task, you minimize your mistakes. And by minimizing your mistakes you actually have less need to go back and make corrections. Therefore, you end up with more time at the end. So focus on one thing at a time.
- Express: personally, I’m the queen of “yes.” I don’t like saying no to my clients or my children. Their happiness is my happiness–and also my stress! But at some point, you just simply have to say it: no. Practice it. That one word is an amazing time creator! And once you eliminate those energy and time draining activities from your schedule, you can focus on more important things.
- Prioritize: not everything on your list holds the same weight. It may feel like it, but I know from personal experience that if you truly consider the scope of each project you’ll find that one stands out over the rest. And then another will stand out over the remaining tasks. And on and on. You know your task list so you know what takes priority over other things. So regardless of what system you use to prioritize (due date, scope, etc.), it’s important to go into every day with a list of to-dos in order of importance. That way you don’t put off what’s due today to accomplish what’s due tomorrow and cause yourself extra stress and longer work hours in the process.
So there you have it. Four quick, relatively simple fixes that’ll increase your productivity and save you some time. I’d love to know your thoughts on these and any tips you might like to share on how you stay productive and create time!
Until next time, happy productivity!!