9 Productivity tips to add more hours to your day!
Often we look at other people and wonder how they get it all done. Then reflect on our own days, or weeks, and question where all the time has gone.
Well - as we all know - everyone has the same 24 hours in every day, but we each use them differently - some more productively than others.
What is productivity? It is literally the calculation of your outputs over your inputs. So productive people are getting more out of every day than they are putting in.
What are the inputs? Well, you have three.
Productivity comes from:
1) Focus. The undivided attention you give a task.
2) Time. The time you put into a task.
3) Energy. The speed or efficiency at which you complete your task.
And how do you maximise productivity? Well, it all comes down to habits - forming and staying true to productive habits that help you get the most out of every day.
Today - I’m going to share with you 9 of my favourite productivity tips. Don’t be under any illusion that I manage to stick to all 9 of these all the time - we all waver - but each has been beneficial to me at some stage of my life or other!
START THE DAY STRONG - THE MIRACLE MORNING IS THE REAL DEAL
Having a solid morning routine that gets you pumped for the day, is crucial for entrepreneurs who need to do work that is creative or requires critical thinking. The mornings are the best time of day as your brain has been reset, and you are in the optimal time to set-up your day for success. You are well rested, and you can maximise your output and creative flow. Keep the tedious tasks for later in the day.
What I love about the 6 minute miracle morning, apart from it only taking 6 minutes, is that it’s so easy to do, and the habit is built quickly. If you have more time in the morning, you can also increase the time you spend on each task, to suit your time needs. It’s a mind-body-soul activity which puts you in a great mental space for the day!
- Minute 1 is spent in silence, being mindful and finding relaxation before the hustle and bustle of the day takes over!
- Minute 2 you say your affirmations out loud. A powerful way to take back control is to use “I am” statements. I am in charge of my own life. I am reaching my goals, and expanding my potential. And so on and so forth. You can write these down, and recite them, or come up with new ones every day that feel good, and empower you.
- Minute 3 is all about visualization. Spend time visualizing how you want your day to play out, focus on setting up the day for success here! Visualize the ideal day. You can also visualize goals, and reaching them!
- Minute 4 is all about scribing. You can journal on the goals you have achieved, write down a list of things you are grateful for, or you can write down your commitments to yourself for the day.
- Minute 5 is reading - one to two pages of a book that inspires you or teaches you something! Some quick book recommendations: Tribe of Mentors: Short life advice from the best in the world and Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers both by Tim Ferriss (And if any of you are not yet Tim Ferrris fans, do check him out, because you absolutely should be!)
- Minute 6 is for exercise! Don’t knock this one, super important for the flow of blood and to get you going! You can do jumping jacks, push ups, running on the spot, whatever you can to get your heart rate going!
And you are set for the day, in 6 minutes!
(For more on the 6-minute miracle morning, you can get the book, on Amazon, or check out: http://halelrod.com/6-minute-miracle-morning/ for a quick summary!)
Now you’ll realise that no part of my morning routine suggests that you have to get up at the crack of dawn to be productive. Because I just don’t want to! Which leads me on to…
FIND YOUR OWN GROOVE - THE DAILY ROUTINE THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Successful people start the day at 5am. Heard that before?
Now if this comes naturally to you, amazing! But for me, I’ve never been able to drag myself out of bed in the dark and launch myself - happily - into my morning routine.
But what I can do is focus hard from 10pm - 2am each night, while everyone else is sleeping - there’s no emails coming in, and no distractions.
So here’s the thing…
We all need to stop being influenced by what other people deem to be ‘success’, or the ‘habits of highly successful’ people…
And when it comes to your daily routine - just find the time, and the activities that work best for you! Find when you are your most productive, most positive and most creative… and build your day around that.
Then just relax into it - this entrepreneurship thing is meant to be fun :)
USE YOUR DOWN TIME EFFECTIVELY - FREE TIME IS EXTRA TIME
There are hours of our day that can be re-utilized in a productive, thought-provoking fashion. For example: is your commute to work taking 2 hours of your day? Rather than sitting there or mindlessly scrolling through your phone, use that time to listen to that podcast, or lecture, catch up on the latest industry news, or brainstorm ideas, whilst recording your notes!
Optimize your time spent, to maximise your daily creative flow!
Use the Voice Recorder on your phone to brainstorm ideas, or a transcription app, that records your voice, and puts it into a written doc for you. An FREE app I like is: Dragon Anywhere by Nuance Communications, you just hit record and it transcribes your conversation for you!
TIME BLOCK YOUR TASKS & RESIST THE URGE TO MULTI-TASK
Instead of doing 3 things at once, and not finishing any of them, rather block off time for certain tasks, and complete them one at a time! You will feel, and be, more accomplished and your focus is better uninterrupted than when you attempt to multitask. Attempt being the operative word there :)
So Elon Musk is a prime example of this - he actually divides his day in to 5 minute increments. This way he doesn’t have time to procrastinate, nor waste time! You not up for 5- minute increments? Don't worry, me neither - it’s taking it a little bit far… BUT You can still use the same tactic, just adjust it for your needs.
You divide your day into blocks - one hour, half hours, twenty minutes, or whatever works effectively for you! Each block has one task allocated to it, and you stick to this. You don’t get distracted. It is also a good idea to add buffers before and after tasks, to make room for unexpected things to happen (as they do!)
I use my calendar on Gmail to block out the time, because it has automatic reminders.
To read more on this tactic and other similar ones employed by some of the most successful people from all walks of life, you can check out the book “15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs By Kevin Kruse
While we usually think of stress as a bad thing, a manageable level of self-imposed stress can actually be helpful in terms of giving us focus and helping us meet our goals. Try giving yourself a deadline, and then stick to it. You may be surprised to discover just how focused and productive you can be when you racing against the Clock.
If you find it hard to hold yourself accountable (sometimes as solo entrepreneurs it’s easy to just move the target, and no-one will ever know!) - write it down and share with your team, your friends or your partner.
I like to use Asana to plan out projects and tasks. You can input deadlines, share with friends, and colleagues, and the app reminds you which tasks are due, or over due. You can even make notes in each project or task, to keep track of where you are.
TAKE BREAKS TO RECOUP!
It sounds counterintuitive, but taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration and ultimately productivity. Not if it’s the only tip you take away from this vlog, but when you’re running fast, you need to stop to get your breathe. It’s the same when you’re working, fast.
So these breaks should not be too long, short 5 minute breaks in between long tasks will do the trick. So when you feel stuck, a quick 5-minute get-up-and-move-around works wonders to get the creativity back! Get out of your immediate environment too - like take a walk out of your office into the garden and back. It’s worth a try :)
A desktop app that is good for this is called Awareness - its a non-intrusive app that simply goes off every hour (or as specified) with the sound of a gong, to remind you to to take a break.
STAY FOCUSED. DON’T LET EMAILS TAKE OVER.
On average, an entrepreneur spends 2-3 hours a day on email.
Now add to that managing a Facebook Inbox, Instagram Inbox, LinkedIn Inbox, perhaps a Messenger chatbot - your whole day can literally be taken up by this admin.
So instead - in line with the time blocking tip - put aside a specific time, or two times, each day to respond to emails and check social media, and do not check your inbox at other times throughout the day. This will allow you to focus 100% on your emails during that time and get through your responses more quickly, and not let them creep into your other hours that should be instead focused on sales, product development and other revenue-generating tasks.
A tool I love is called ‘Inbox When Ready’ - it literally hides your Inbox from you, so you can’t see how many emails are coming in, and also tells you how many times you’ve checked your inbox each day, and for how long total. Keeps you honest :)
And another great tool for staying focused more generally - if it’s email or blogs or cat videos that are your temptation - this tool is called StayFocusd and it’s a Chrome extension. It blocks certain sites from your browser for certain times of the day. You can choose which websites you want to block during which times of the day, so you aren’t tempted to jump onto Facebook or Netflix at a time you’re trying to focus on work.
Now in a similar vein….
CHANGE HOW YOU COMMUNICATE - FROM EMAIL TO SLACK.
On average, we are checking our emails 15 times per day, and spending 2-3 hours of time reading and writing them. A huge chunk of our productive time each day!
AND a large proportion of that is emails between team members, freelancers and co-founders. People you engage with daily, to keep your business running.
And the thing with email is each one is like writing a letter, which is absurd for people you’re communicating with every day - where the context, the pleasantries and the embellished language we often fall into in email is frankly, unnecessary, and a total waste of time.
So here’s how you save hours. Move from email to Slack.
Set up a Slack account (free) and get your entire team on it.
Create channels for each key program you’re working on - so could be one for social media marketing, one for product development and one for competitor research (and it’s always nice to have a fun channel too!) - and start sending short, sharp messages through there.
All of that is easy, and it a huge timesaver.
But here’s the hard part. You then need to STOP emailing - not just add Slack as another channel. Challenge yourself and your team to only communicate on Slack for a week and it will quickly become second nature :)
ORGANISE YOUR SPACE - DECLUTTER YOUR LIFE & YOUR BRAIN
So this tip probably comes the least naturally to me… but as a generally messy person, I also know the stress of not being able to find things, or the claustrophobia caused by clutter.
Really - having everything decluttered, organized and in its place, makes your workflow easier, quicker and less frustrating! Creating an office environment that is fun to be in, and not overwhelming also boosts your work productivity.
You can Feng Shui your desk for optimal energy flow, and create a more supportive work environment in this way!
A good desk placement would be to have your desk in the power position. This means having a clear view of the door from where you are seated. You should not be across from the door, but rather, off-side with nothing between you are the door.
The least beneficial view would be one where you are facing a wall or a window. With the wall: You are hindering your outlook, and stumping the creative energy flow. (This also means your back is to your door, usually, which means you can easily be taken by surprise. Always aim to have the power in your work environment.)
Facing a window is a distraction, it's easy to drift off into the outside world and lose focus on what you are doing!
Having good light is also super important! Natural light is preferred, but if you are working late at night, or early mornings, having a well-lit desk is not only good for focus, it also contributes to healthy feng-shui, It is recommended to have a desk lamp in the upper left corner of your desk (this is also the wealth corner!)
Keep your desk organized, and clutter free for ease of energy flow!
For more on Feng shui, and how to apply this in your home, office, and home office, you can check out The Spruce: https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-feng-shui-your-desk-4129191
So my final note on productivity - just make sure you try different things and get a sense for what works for you. It takes around 21 days to properly form a habit, so pick one or two of these tips - or others - and put them in place for 3 weeks, to get a proper feel for whether they positively impact your time, life, and business, or not.
And if not - don’t beat yourself up!
One of the worst productivity habits I’ve ever adopted?
In January I got my Inbox down to 0. No mean feat - it took 3 full days, but I’d read so much about highly successful people getting to 0 every day.
And sure I felt productive initially, but then the intense pressure I felt to ensure I kept it at 0, and the anxiety of seeing the number of ‘unreads’ creeping up throughout the day or week was overwhelming! I ended up spending far too much time and energy desperately trying to sustain this productivity habit.
In the end - I scrapped it.
Do I miss emails now? Sometimes. But I am so much more relaxed in other aspects of my business! Plus my philosophy - if it’s really important, someone will email you again or pick up the phone.
To be clear - this is not my customer inbox - obviously, that’s crucial to keep manned at all times - but on the personal front - it’s generally nothing that can’t wait a few days :)
So I hope this helped! Look forward to seeing a lot more of you out exploring and living your life with all your newly discovered free hours! And taking your business to levels you never even imagined, faster than you ever thought possible.