Productivity and tips for being more productive are topics I’ve been hearing a lot about lately. In a way it’s kind of crazy, right? I mean, at no time in the history of the world have there been more gadgets and gizmos designed to help us focus on our time on getting things done. But you know what? I kind of think that’s the problem…and it’s true whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, working full time, or building a business as an entrepreneur.
Being more productive with all of our distractions can be a challenge.
Back in the day when people like my cute Grandpa was raising his family, things were crazy busy. But there were a lot fewer distractions. Don’t get me wrong—I can barely remember how I functioned before my iPhone and love all of the modern conveniences we have, but there was a heck of a lot of advantages in that time when it comes to productivity.
Grandpa didn’t have a smartwatch reminding him he needed to move (he took care of that himself), his cell phone ringing when he was driving to and from work…and the only spam he knew about was the kind in a can. It wasn’t piling up in his email inbox. I’m not even sure that multi-tasking had even been invented…although he and Grandma sure got a heck of a lot done in their day!
As I’ve built my online businesses, I’ve had to work on being more productive. To find ways that reduced all of the “squirrels” that tend to pop up all day every day so that I can get you-know-what done as a wife, mom, and ecommerce entrepreneur.
I’m sharing my 11 (yep—weird number, but I like it) tips for being more productive.
- Write everything down.Seriously, once a week I sit down and do a total brain vomit into my notebook. Sure, it’s not a pretty phrase, but it’s basically what happens. I just get everything out onto a page to empty out my brain. From soccer practice and piano lessons to ordering products to planning my next Facebook lives, I get it onto a page in all of its magnificent, messy glory.
- Circle the Big 3.Priorities make or break productivity. That’s why every Monday I go through the ginormous list of things to get done and choose the top three that I need to accomplish. Those are the things that I’m going to be laser-focused on because they are my very top priorities. (Side note: I may or may not have referenced “This is Us.” Why do I watch a show that makes me cry every freaking episode?! But I digress.)
- Plan the day—every day. Planning my day is an absolute. If I don’t, I find myself at the end of the day wondering where the time went and feeling like nothing got accomplished despite having been running around like the proverbial chicken. Plus, one of my kids may still be waiting for me to pick them up at piano lessons and I’ve completely spaced a call (or five.) When you identify what needs to be done in a day and when you instantly take a load off your brain and discover time you otherwise might never have known you have.
- Establish power hours.What the heck are power hours? Essentially, it’s a time when you can knock work out like nobody’s business. Mine are usually two-hour blocks—often from 5 am to 7 am before my kids are up and going. You might find that yours are late at night. Essentially, it’s what works for your schedule (and your sleeping habits…but we’ll take about that in a few minutes.) It just needs to be a distraction-free, focus-like-crazy time.
OH…AND HERE’S A RULE: When you are doing 1-4, turn off your phone and stay away from anything else that’s going to pull your attention away from being productive.
Do NOT let calls, texts, social media scrolling or anything else get in the way of what you’re doing. (You can call your mom and binge-watch every episode of Struggle Meals another time.) Planning and power hours should be practically sacred in your online business-building life.
- Batch work.Batching—essentially focusing on one type of task over and over and over—is my FAVORITE. If you are getting ready to list products, for example, photograph them all at the same time. Then edit those photos all at the same time. Then write the product descriptions all at the same time. Your productivity will soar every time you batch work because it lets your brain get in a groove. I promise you will get way more done in way less time. Trust me. Batch away.
- Finish. The. Task. At. Hand. I added a little emphasis there, and for good reason. When you start something, finish it, then move on. Don’t start it, make a random phone call, go grab a beverage, shop on Amazon, start making dinner, and then try to get back to it. You’ll waste soooooo dang much time. Is it hard not to multitask? Yes. Absolutely. We’re programmed to do it by the world we live in. But just say no.
- Keep a distractions list. So there you are, focusing merrily away when it suddenly pops into your head that you are nearly out of ranch dressing. I’ve been there, and yes, it strikes fear into the hearts of parents of chicken-nugget-eating children everywhere. Now’s not the time to run to the store. Instead, keep a “distractions” list handy, where you can just scribble a reminder. The same goes for those “Oh! I need to call…” or “I need to remember to text…” moments. Write them down on your distractions list and move right back over to what you were doing.
- Create templates and checklists.I admit it. I’m a list maker. There’s almost nothing more satisfying than checking off a box that says “I did it!” More importantly, however, is that checklists keep us focused and reduce the likelihood we’ll forget something. For example, a standard checklist for every product that you’re going to list in your e-commerce store or on a deal site might taking/editing/sizing the photo, writing the product description, verifying the shipping weight and cost, and double checking the profit margin. The other benefit is that if you get hit with the flu, or something takes you out of commission for a few days, a checklist gives you the option of having a trusted friend or family member help you out and keep your business moving.
- Turn off notifications. I used to adore the “cha-ching” sound I got on my phone when a product sold. But honestly, those and other notifications drew my attention away from what’s important. Unless you have a will of steel that prevents you from wanting to check your notifications, email or other things that just pop up, you will see ginormous strides in productivity if you turn them off.
- Reduce decision fatigue.Why did Steve Jobs always wear jeans a black mock turtleneck? Why is Mark Zuckerberg the king of gray t-shirts? (I’m the queen of them, by the way.) Because these two tech geniuses and countless others like them know the benefit that comes from reducing the number of decisions you need to make in a day. Believe it or not, making decisions drains the life out of your productivity. Setting schedules, having checklists, and pretty much everything else listed above will reduce the non-important decisions you have to make moment to moment. Being more productive is the result.
- Self-care. Wait…what? Yep—this one may seem like it’s a little out of nowhere considering the other productivity tips in my list are a bit harder hitting. As business builders and e-commerce entrepreneurs, we too often overlook the importance of taking time for ourselves. But raise your hand and promise me that in all of the “getting things done” you take time out to take care of yourself. You cannot be your most productive if you’re not getting the right amount of sleep, eating well, staying hydrated, getting some movement into your day, and spending quality time with the people you love. Your body, mind, and spirit need and deserve some love. You’ll get so much more done when you’re feeling good.
So there you go! My 11 tips for being more productive.
Oh—and did I mention that I’ve even prepared a .pdf of ideas for being more productive so that you can have these tips handy? Print it now—because that’s one less decision you have to make. (And Grandpa would be proud.)
Talk again soon—