So, you want to get more done. Join the club! I don’t know any entrepreneur that doesn’t want to increase productivity. In this article, I share five tips for increasing productivity. If you utilize even one of them, you’ll get more done.
I long suspected that lack of focus impacts productivity more than any other thing. I proved that to be true when I still worked in a traditional office, filled with constant interruptions. For various reasons, my workload doubled, and it became near impossible for me to get everything done. I believed that if I could work uninterrupted that I'd be able to handle my workload, no problem.
At the time, my employer didn't allow employees to work from home, so I proposed the next best thing. I requested the opportunity to work in a hidden office, one day per week. Only my immediate supervisor, the HR director, and a couple of coworkers from my department knew where I was.
This experiment was a huge success. I found that I accomplished 80% of my work on the one day a week that I worked without interruptions, and 20% of my work the other four days a week.
The main reason this worked is that as I worked alone, I could choose to focus. I was intentional about not allowing myself to get sucked into multi-tasking. I started the day with a list of what I wanted to accomplish, in priority order, and tackled one thing at a time. By the end of the day, I crossed all the important things off my list, and as a bonus, I hit inbox zero every single time.
Follow this 100-Year Old Process to Increase Productivity
This article published on Entrepreneur.com gets into why multi-tasking doesn't work and provides a six-step process for getting things done.
If, like me, you have a hard time getting things done in a traditional office setting, but need to work in an office at least some of the time, come up with a creative solution that allows you to work uninterrupted at least 20% of the time. This may mean working from home, working in an office with a closed door for certain hours of the day, or having an adjusted work schedule where you spend some of your time in the office when no one else is there. Guard the time religiously, and whatever you do, focus on one thing at a time. If you do, you'll be amazed by how much you'll get done in your focus times.
If you do any freelance work, or if you have an area of expertise that others benefit from, you've no doubt had people ask for something for free. I've had people ask me to edit books for free in exchange for a mention in the acknowledgments. I've also had people ask to "pick my brain" in exchange for a cup of coffee -- and then had them not show up at the appointed time.
While I wouldn't go as far as to say that you should never do anything for free, I would say that it's important to know your own worth, and charge accordingly.
Here's what the article Beware the Productivity Vampire: 10 Signs Someone Will Suck Away Hours of Your Time published on Inc.com has to say about people who want something done for free:
These are people who want you to supply strategic recommendations for their business, website, or social media feeds--just to get a sense of how you might work together and if you'd be a "good fit" for future business.
Don't get sucked into this vampire's lair: Decline, no matter how promising the client. True professionals respect that excellent partners don't give the goods away for free.
In addition to the "they ask for free work vampire," the article lists nine other productivity vampires. That article was the inspiration for this post, and it's worth a read. You can check it out here.
According to the article Low Productivity? You May Need a Digital Detox published on Entrepreneur.com,
If you’ve been feeling less productive than usual, the cause may be your technological devices bogging you down.
The article gives the following four problems caused by technology:
1. Your digital calendar is over-scheduled.
2. Screen culture is making you less creative.
3. You’re distracted by incoming messages.
4. You’re inundated with too much information.
What I love about the article is that in addition to stating the problem, for each problem it gives a solution.
For example, for number three, when distracted by incoming messages, among other suggestions, it recommends turning off notifications.
If you have a hard time with discipline when it comes to checking email and social media, I recommend disconnecting from the Internet and reconnecting just a few times per day. I've even done this as a way to get to inbox zero. If you want to try this, all you need to do is disconnect from the Internet, then work through all of your email. If you "send" email while disconnected from the Internet, it will go into your outbox and then all of the emails you wrote while offline are sent when you reconnect. The reason this works is because you aren't distracted by incoming email while you're working through your backlog.
#4: Be Accountable
I'm a big fan of accountability. This works for me because I'm often better at keeping promises to other people than I am to myself. There are a lot of ways you can be accountable. For example, one tactic I've used to get a book published on time is to create a "coming soon" page for the book on my website, with a countdown timer. Even if no one else pays attention to the countdown timer, it keeps me going. I've never yet failed to beat the timer.
A more personal approach can be having an accountability partner that you meet with either in person, online, or on the phone.
This article published on Addicted2Success provides the following five ways that an accountability partner can increase your productivity:
1. Creates A Habit Of Analyzing Your Goals
2. You’ll Stop Making Excuses
3. Gives You A Different Angle
4. You Can Share Networks
5. Helps You Celebrate Success
You can read details on each of these points here.
If you travel a lot for your business, and if you find that travel impacts your productivity, this article published on Entrepreneur.com is worth a read.
It gives the following seven tips for increasing productivity when traveling:
1. Make the best use of the moment.
2. Plan ahead.
3. Commit to the work.
4. Find the benefit of detachment.
5. Adjust to the type of travel.
6. If you can't work, study.
7. Know when you've burned out.
The last point is really important, and the reality is that it fits with all of the other points in this article. The truth is, sometimes in our quest for productivity, we work to the point of exhaustion. When that happens, regardless of how hard you work, you actually accomplish less, not more.
I'll leave you with this quote from the article:
True productivity is all about knowing yourself. You need to know when to push through and when to take your foot off the gas. If you've been up since 3 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight, maybe now isn't the time to grind through another piece of work. Take a nap for an hour and then tackle it. Productivity, especially while traveling, is not a sprint -- it's a marathon. Pace yourself.
So there you have it, five ways to avoid productivity vampires.
Share your productivity tips in the comments below.