3 Incredibly Easy Steps To Boost Your Productivity
Life as a mum in business is hectic. I’m right there with you.
Getting uncooperative small people dressed, fed and out the door can take hours. Holding it together so your little family carries on ticking over without any monumental meltdowns is a feat in itself.
Add running a business to the mix and the shit really hits the fan (and doing it alongside working full-time, if you’re in that boat, oh man!).
I started my coaching business whilst working full-time, so trust me when I say I’ve been there. I’ve done the early morning get ups, skipped my lunch hour and worked late in the night to build my business.
I can’t put this bluntly enough, if you can’t master your time and energy, building your business will always be an uphill struggle and you’ll put a cap on your success.
When you get this wrong:
You’ll feel overwhelmed and like you’re always ‘behind’
You won’t be productive in the time you do have
You’ll end up taking a scatter gun approach to tasks and never truly focus on one area
The good news is you can put some simple strategies in place to manage your time and energy, and become the most productive person you know.
quit saying “i don’t have enough time”
Time for some tough love. I’d like to ban a sentence from your vocabulary:
“I don’t have enough time”
Why? Because this scarcity mindset will not contribute to your success. Saying this shifts responsibility away from you and onto ‘time’.
“You’d have finished that project if you’d had more time.”
”You’d wouldn’t have forgotten that task if you’d had more time.”
”You’d have called that client back if you’d had more time.”
Time is not the issue here. Prioritisation, planning and focus is.
Your time is finite - true. There are only so many hours to market, blog, email, serve clients, exercise, meditate, clean, read, watch tv (it’s exhausting just thinking about it!).
We need to recognise when we are feeling overwhelmed and like we have too much to do and take a step back.
Let’s look at what is really going on here:
You have given yourself too much do than is realistic in the time you have.
You want to do more and are not satisfied by the available time.
You’re not managing the time you do have effectively.
To overcome this, you have three options: do less, delegate or learn to manage your time more effectively (ideally do all three).
I’m going to help you with the third one - managing your time more effectively. I’ll show you exactly what you should be doing every month, every week and every day to optimise your productivity (all beautifully summarised in my free Productivity Planner - just click the link below).
SHIFT FROM reactive to proactive
The first shift you need to make is ensuring you are running your business proactively rather than reactively.
Reactive - you let life and events set your agenda:
A new email comes in, you respond; someone comments on social media, you respond; an invoice comes in, you pay it. Your day can disappears amidst reactive actions, as you deal with what’s thrown at you.
Proactive - you accept responsibility for your situation and take the initiative to make things better:
You begin the day with your most important task and eliminate distractions. You plan in an hour to answer emails and interact on social media. You take a break every 90 minutes so you don’t reach burn out. You plan in a less strenuous task for the afternoon when your energy is lower.
We live in a technological age with distractions literally at our finger tips. The average office worker receives a whopping 121 emails a day, and the average person spends 142 minutes on social media every day.
If you spend your day reacting to incoming stimuli, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out you’re not going to be that productive.
To manage your time effectively, you need to proactively plan what you are going to do and when.
This means planning in the actions that are going to move you towards your goals. It also means anticipating potential problems and putting in measures to address them.
I’m going to take you through this step by step.
Step 1: do this monthly
Each month, write down 3 business goals which align with your annual goals. My goals for this month might look like this:
Grow email subscriber list to 1000 (market growth goal)
Generate 5k in new sales (financial goal)
Map out customer experience and processes (service development goal)
Then list out all the actions you might take that month to achieve that goal.
Monthly Goal: Grow email subscriber list to 1000 (market growth goal)
Write 2 blog posts with content upgrades
Write 2 guest blog posts with content upgrades
Re-write About Me page
Run a 5 day challenge
These actions will then be divided up into each week in the next step.
As well as taking actions to achieve our goals, we want to be proactively developing our business, bit by bit.
To do this, list out all of the impact areas in your business which affect your bottom line. This might look something like this:
Spend an hour proactively developing these areas each week. This time can be spent identifying where things aren’t running smoothly, developing slicker processes and generating new ideas. You’ll chip away at each area, week by week.
Monthly Key Points:
Identify 3 monthly goals which align with your annual goals
For each goal, list actions which will help you reach it
List each impact area of your business which affects your bottom line
Step 2: do this weekly
Each Sunday, plan your week ahead. For each day, you want to have one important task planned - put this task first thing when your energy is at its peak (more on this shortly).
Choose a couple of smaller tasks for each day and then put in one hour slots for each of the impact areas of your business spread throughout the week.
We also know that life will get in the way. Emails will come in. Problems will crop up. Plan for this proactively by planning in reactive time slots for miscellaneous tasks, emails and social media.
Your day might look something like this:
9:00 (Most important task)
10:45 Smaller task
11:45 Emails and miscellaneous tasks
13:30 Focus on impact area
14:30 Social media and emails
15:30 Smaller task
16:30 Plan next day
It will likely never happen exactly like that. Your most important task might run on for a few more hours. Tasks will get pushed to the next day.
That’s OK. You’ll know that you planned your day proactively and intentionally, aligned with your goals and each day you’ll take a step forward.
Finish each day with a half hour planning slot so you can plan the next day. This small adjustment has massively increased my productivity, as I'm able to get stuck into my most important task every morning, without wasting valuable energy.
If you’re still working full-time, you’ll obviously have much less time available. Make sure you cut out all the ‘fluff’ and focus on high leverage tasks: finding clients, serving them and getting results.
Weekly Key Points:
Choose one important task for each day - do this first
Focus on each impact area in your business for one hour a week
Plan in reactive time slots for emails, social media and miscellaneous tasks
Plan each day ahead of time
Step 3: do this daily
Now we need to plan our daily flow - how we’re going to have enough energy every day to complete our planned actions.
Before I mastered my energy, I would work non-stop, skip lunch, hit burn out and then be completely ineffective in the afternoon. Half hour tasks would take three hours, and I’d finish each day feeling frustrated that I hadn’t achieved everything I wanted to.
I didn’t understand that true productivity is about managing your energy, not your time.
Our energy comes in waves - most people are familiar with circadian rhythm - our 24 hour internal clock which cycles between energy dips and alertness.
Have you noticed how much more of a slog it can feel to work at night? We want to work with our body, not against it - this is why you should always do your most important task first thing in the morning. If you get nothing else done that day, you’ll still have done that.
We also experience ultradian rhythm: shorter waves of energy which we experience throughout the day (typically around 90-120 minutes each).
At the end of each cycle, our energy levels deplete and our body needs to recover. You’ll notice how you might feel restless, tired and hungry. If you ignore these signals and keep working you drain your body of its energy reservoir and eventually you’ll crash. If you overwork yourself, it’ll be much harder to claw your way back to peak productivity.
The good news is we can recharge our energy battery by sleeping, eating (well), exercising and resting!
Key points for managing your daily energy:
Do your most important task at your energy peak (for me that’s 9am, with less strenuous work in the afternoon)
Take a break every 90 minutes
Recharge your energy with sleep, nutrition and exercise
If you’re like me, you’ll get this wrong before you learn how important it is to get it right.
Now I do understand my energy flow, I actually do less. I make better use of the time I do have, I listen to my body, work at peak times and get more done. Ultimately, I feel more on top of things.
Download my free weekly productivity planner, complete with a daily productivity checklist and affirmations. Follow this checklist and you will be the most productive person you know.
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