To be productive you must approach your business with a specific mindset that is relaxed, determined and open. It is most helpful to create processes and delegate when needed and keep focused on the task at hand while avoiding distractions that take that focus away. Being effective at everything you do and with the thinking you do is a major contributor to a productive and prosperous business. Use these following ideas to get the most out of your work day.
Keep your desktop free of clutter
At the end of office time for the day put everything in its place, which can be a combination of drawers shelves, wall files, filing cabinets and any other organizing elements you are utilizing. Clutter in your environment clutters your mind and can lead to inefficient practices from disorganization.
Keep this great little saying in mind: “Everything has its place and there’s a place for everything. If there’s not a place for it then you don’t need it!”
Create a space to put papers
This may be a box (sized slightly larger than standard letter sized paper and 3-4 inches in height) on your desk, a set of stack-able organizer inboxes, or a multi-pocket/single pocket wall file (great for freeing up desktop space.) Unless you feel that you need the separation, don’t create one space for work and one for home. Consider this a one-stop drop for anything you can deal with later and schedule a regular time that you attend to these papers. Don’t let it pile too high so that you feel daunted by the effort to go through it.
Create systems for your business
The most efficiently run businesses are made up of regulated and unique groups of tasks that are created once and repeated again and again and again. If you’ve been in business for any length of time you probably have a few systems in place already, even if you don’t realize it. Make the time to write down a step-by-step guide to the mechanics of your business and what you do in your home office that affects your business.
This process will not only help you in defining and organizing the tasks you do (or should do) as an entrepreneur, but will also allow you to have someone else keep your business running if you’re unavailable for various reasons.
Outsource business tasks
Every entrepreneur has “stuff” to do that isn’t part of their skill set and isn’t enjoyable to them. Generally, finances don’t allow them to pay others for essential business tasks, especially when starting up, yet many people will find that as soon as they offload those unappealing chores they become more efficient at other jobs and their business really starts to flourish.
In our multi-communication society, outsourcing business projects is easier than ever and definitely has various benefits to hiring an employee. You can find freelance professionals that are eager to do any project you may have through a variety of avenues. Whether you post a job on one of the many freelance bidding sites (Upwork and Freelancer, to name two), search for a virtual assistant online or through your local resources, or just have a friend or family member complete some work, you can put yourself in a position to achieve more with less time.
Do business tasks only during business time
This may seem like it’s the opposite of being productive. After all, with our technology at the level that it is we can have the devices and access to our business 24/7. And why not attend to a few emails or phone calls if time permits during non-business hours? First of all, because those business matters won’t really have your full attention if you’re out shopping or visiting with friends, and secondly, just as you should give your business your full attention, you should also give the other areas of your life your full attention.
Focus on one project at a time
Whether it be work or personal, remove all other programs and browsers that aren’t related to what you’re working on. As well, clear your desk/working space of anything that is not related to the task at hand.
Set boundaries of when you answer emails and telephone calls
Try to keep in mind that these various forms of communication are for your convenience and not for the convenience of others. You can’t be as focused and efficient when you’re letting distractions always take you away from the task at hand. Schedule in a period of time once or twice a day to respond to and initiate conversations, whether it be through email, texting, phone calls or any other form of communication with customers, business associates and personal contacts.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
This technique was created in the 1980’s by Francesco Cirillo, which assists in achieving greater focus and better time management. It’s a fairly simple concept of breaking down your work day into blocks of 25 minutes and builds on that main practice to teach more in-depth techniques of blocking out distractions, accurately estimating the length of time to do a task, and other organizational tips. You may not want to be a true ‘Pomodoro’ follower, but reading the details about this technique will definitely provide you with some insightful ideas to better manage your home business.
Schedule closed-door and quiet periods of time
While it can be good to be accessible to family members if needed, you may need to make at least a couple of ‘no interruptions times in your week. Some tasks just need your full uninterrupted attention and if you can do them without any chance of an interruption, then you will be able to produce much better results. Not everyone will need to use this tactic, but if you find that you’re less productive due to minor interruptions then stand up for yourself and your business and make your family aware of the times you have set aside to complete your high concentration tasks that may also mean a quieter time for everyone in the house.
Do productivity checks
This will be a great new habit to foster that will help to keep you focused and stop lots of those time-wasting activities. Every hour or two check in with yourself asking “Is this the best use of my time?” Set an alarm to go off, set up Google Calendar to send a notification to your desktop, or simply stick a note on the wall in your direct sight with this question on it. Eventually you will get in the habit of asking this question regularly without external prompts and stay away from unproductive work to begin with.
Don’t get lost in multi-tasking
Creating an environment that is extremely efficient involves a sustained time of focused work. It can be difficult to really get focused when, each day, you’re switching from one activity to another, just to get things done. Being able to schedule your time so that you complete a months’ worth of blog posts in one day or set up some email broadcasts for the next two weeks allows your brain to really get into the one project and produce better work in less time than if you broke up the same kind of job over several days.
Always generate a growing sense of optimism
Expect that good things are going to be plentiful. Have the sense that life will bring good rather than bad outcomes and that when you encounter less than ideal situations you will be able to overcome them. Living your life with an optimistic mindset will allow you to see the possibilities and take advantage of opportunities that come out of hardship.
Create your business around your passion
The most successful people have attested to the fact that their passion for their business drove them to be innovative, determined and keep focused on their tasks. Be sure that your business focus is somehow connected to something you’re passionate about and you’ll find that staying motivated and productive feels much easier.
Schedule your more challenging work during your prime time
Are you a morning person, or does your energy rev up after 6pm? Determine when you are at your peak performance and schedule the more difficult work, or the stuff you are not so keen on doing, during these times. The routine tasks and more enjoyed activities can then be scheduled for
the other times of the day.
Incorporate a reward system for a job well done
Although you’ve got “the big picture” incentive of having an awesome online business for long-term motivation, it’s useful to create some short-term incentives to help you get through a challenging undertaking or detailed project. Gear the incentive to your own preference of what you see as a reward.