Constantly playing “catch up” with your business and projects
To-do list after to-do list to “get organized”
Feeling overwhelmed with an idea because there’s “too much to do”
Ideas that linger around but never really get anywhere
How many times have you went to bed wondering, “Could I have done more today?” If we’d have to guess, we’d imagine it happens more often than you’d like to admit.
As entrepreneurs, every day we push ourselves to produce more, network more, simply do more. But sometimes, it can feel like the clock is working against us and our goals. If you’re trying to reclaim valuable time in your day, check out these 10 productivity hacks that will have you wondering why you never tried them in the first place.
In order for productivity hacks to, well, actually hack your productivity, you’ll need specific, actionable goals to work towards. Begin by learning how to set SMART goals: realistic and attainable goals you can begin benchmarking. Once you identify what your major goals are, it will become easier to classify how important (or not important) certain tasks may be.
Goals aren’t a “set it and forget it” type of thing. Life changes, business changes, and our plans of action often need to change in response. Aim to have weekly or quarterly check-ins with your goals. Are they still relevant? Have you already exceeded the progress you anticipated? Learning when to ramp up or dial back will help you channel your energy in the right direction.
Take the time each morning to write out your top three tasks for the day. Indicate how exactly these tasks relate to your overarching SMART goals by using clear, concise language. Instead of writing “research accounting software,” try “review and compare features for software options 1, 2, and 3.” This productivity hack will help you from drifting into only somewhat-related tasks that take valuable time out of the day.
Some tasks take two hours; others take two minutes. Organize quicker, smaller tasks around what’s most important. It’s easier to focus on completing small and monotonous tasks when you know you’re working towards a larger goal that directly benefits or contributes to your business.
Poor concentration and time management are what sidetrack productivity the most. Circumvent both by time tracking. Begin by using a time management method, like the Pomodoro Technique, which breaks down all of your tasks into 25-minute-focused blocks of time. Take a short, five-minute break between the first three blocks and a longer, 15-20-minute break after the fourth block.
This productivity hack allows your brain to hone in on the reward: a stretch, coffee, or meditation break after pumping out work. Make this hack a habit to condition your brain to hyper-focus during the duration of the timer.
Even when organizing small tasks around priorities, errands and quick tasks can take up too much of our time. Consider setting aside a block of time to get the little things done. By carving out an hour to answer emails, social alerts, and so on, you can prevent your to-do list from unbalancing your routine.
Are you jumping between pitches and proposals, balancing finances, and planning for the next quarter all in the same day? When possible, take time blocking a step further and batch your days according to task. For instance, set aside Monday and Wednesday for the days you’ll specifically work on gaining new business, and the rest of the week for maintaining existing business. This productivity hack keeps your thoughts focused on the tasks at hand instead of wandering to unrelated tasks.
Is that your fifth pitch email this week? Template it. Are you making spreadsheets or presentations at an alarming rate? Template those, too. Creating fill-in-the-blank type documents for tasks you execute similarly every time will save you precious prep time that can be spent elsewhere.
When you’re in the zone, it’s easy to forget about new tasks that pop up along the way. Instead of slapping sticky notes around your work area or asking Siri to remind you, keep a running list of new tasks. Prioritize using the sections in your CNCPTS Notebook:
This organization allows you to stay up to date with what’s actually on your plate, incorporate like-minded tasks into your pre-made batches, and keep your personal life a bit more organized, too.
Social media is a fantastic resource and marketing tool, when used correctly. However, when you find yourself constantly hopping on Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook when your mind should be focused elsewhere, that’s a sign you might need to set some boundaries. Use a site blocker to temporarily prohibit access to procrastination-havens like social media, and switch the notifications off on your phone. When you eliminate the constant flood of news alerts, email pings, and social notifications, you allow yourself to focus on the task at hand. Your technology should work with you, not against you, so make changes where you see fit.
Sadly, there’s no hack to help you grow another pair of hands. But by using these 10 hacks to reclaim your valuable time, you can make the hands you do have work that much faster.
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Life rarely goes according to plan. We adapt based on our circumstances and whatever life throws our way. Our personal and business goals shouldn’t be any different. Take our half yearly check in progress report to see how you did and how to finish the year off strong.