How to be more productive
It’s always the same - you start with the best intentions, you do your long term plans and you set out your goals for the year. But, how can you make sure that you meet all your ambitions this year?
Last time we focused on planning. Planning is one aspect of productivity, but many of us fall into the trap of creating endless long term plans, strategies and end-game vision boards. These are all great ways of defining your direction - but what use are they really if you’re never moving towards them?
It’s easy to stagnate and lose motivation when you’re not getting closer to your vision, here’s what you can do to move faster.
1. Eat that Elephant
We’ve all heard the phrase, but now is the time to put it into practice. Take one of your end goals and break it down into up to 5 more achieveable goals. These can be business related and/or personal goals.
Now take those achievable goals and break them down into 5 steps - what are the 5 things you’re going to do which will help you tick that goal off the list.
Are your steps still too vague or ambitious? Then break these down into actions and put a deadline next to them.
Here’s an example of how this works in practice. By the end of this exercise you’ll have mapped out actions which help you start seeing progression towards those big life and business goals and ambitions.
End Goal - Financial Stability
Reduce unnecessary expenditure
Pay off debt
Plan for big expenses (investment in the business/personal expenses)
Maximise existing income/revenue streams
Identify potential new revenue streams
Understand what’s working: Review income generated from existing streams (where/when/which activities are generating profit)
Plan for moving stagnant stock or rejuvenating stagnant services
Produce/review contact strategy with existing customers to maximise income
Plan in offers/incentives to increase average order or order frequency
Review marketing and see what’s driving traffic/sales/enquiries
If it helps, really focus down your activities then map out or break down your actions into specific points that you can work through.
It’s all about taking that big task and making it more achievable and more manageable.
2. Make time for action
Now you know where you need to focus your time to start making some serious progress, and it’s time to schedule that time into your day. Don’t let your action lists stagnate - start at point one and schedule in an hour to explore it. If you think of another action during this time add it to your action list - don’t let anything shift your focus during this hour.
By the end of the hour write down anything you want to explore further, book time into your schedule for unfinished actions and specific activities which may have come from your exploration/research.
The trick is not to schedule a whole day on an action or task; your mind will wander and you'll get distracted - short blasts of activity followed by reflecting and scheduling in more time work best. If you’ve finished your action then great! - tick it off your list!
Most of us come to a point where we know we’re out of our comfort zones. When you hit this point you have two options; try to figure it out yourself or outsource it.
Whilst it’s always great to learn new things or save money doing things yourself, before you dive in consider this - do you have time?
Often projects that we try and figure out ourselves (like building a website) turn into a drain on our time and resources. Instead of looking to save the pennies start to put a cost against your time - how much is your time worth? Offset this against the professional costs and be realistic about your timelines and deadlines for completion.
Just remember - don’t take too much on. Make sure you’re setting yourself up to succeed.
4. Get organised
One of the most important ways of being more productive is to have a clear mind. It’s so easy to jump from action to action without actually achieving anything.
In point 2 we discussed making time for actions that help you achieve your goals. But what about everything else in your day-job?
A great Sunday evening job is mapping out your week. Schedule time in for your goal action points, time for admin tasks, personal activities/actions and don’t forget that all important time out! What are the top things you need to achieve this week and what can you delegate or put off until next week.
Need some help? Try out this printable planner to help map out your week.
The overarching tip is - don’t put things off. If you have a job that you never seem to get around to then just do it! AND just do it first! Believe me that job will play on your mind and distract you from completing those big goal action points.
What are your tips for increasing productivity? Any ideas we can add to the list? I’d love to hear them.