Do you ever feel like you’re running on empty? Struggling to get through the day and all the never-ending to-do lists that come with running your own business? Head buzzing with those invoices you need to chase up, that new pitch deck to prepare for the client meeting, the kid’s doctors’ appointments, sports, and school trips, all while trying to figure out how to get more Instagram traffic? Well, that is the overwhelming reality of life as an entrepreneur in the digital age – trying to do it all and become it all, all while looking good doing it! So what can you do? Working even longer hours usually isn’t an option unless you want to completely burn out. Caffeine can only do so much. But accepting feeling overwhelmed isn’t the answer either.
Instead, adopting as many simple productivity hacks as you can into your working and personal life can let you reclaim some of your energy, and free up time to focus on other commitments outside of your business.
Don’t Run On Empty
Many of us feel a little defeated before we even begin our working day, but a huge part of becoming a more productive entrepreneur is figuring out how to start your day with a full tank. If you’re not properly rested because you’ve been burning the candle at both ends – a common problem for those who lead business start-ups – then you aren’t going to make to lunchtime without low energy levels which leave you zoning out mid-meeting. When you start work rested and recharged, it’s a game-changer.
Start by ensuring you get enough good quality sleep. This means assessing your habits and environment to make sure you’re practicing good sleep hygiene – make sure the room is not too warm and is well ventilated, that you have good quality blinds or curtains and bedding, ban melatonin-disrupting electronics from the room and make sure you’re going to bed in enough time to achieve seven or eight hours of sleep before you need to be up. Take time to wind down before bed – whether that’s with a relaxing aromatherapy bath, a pillow spray and a sleep mask or even a mindfulness app.
Get into the state of mind to sleep, and know that being well-rested is a significant key to daytime productivity – so don’t feel guilty for prioritizing it.
Do Less At One Time
We’ve all been sold the myth that multitasking is essential, and while it’s true that you do have to wear many different hats as a business leader, you certainly don’t have to wear them all at once. In fact, studies show the quality and pace of our output significantly decline if we try to focus on several tasks at once – so it’s far better to deep-dive into one thing at a time.
Use a scheduling app to pace out your work and aim to ensure that major deadlines never overlap if you can avoid it with some planning.
A large wall calendar can really help you visualize the timelines on a project and set out your priorities so that you don’t get overwhelmed – and so that you can deliver quality work. Make sure you have the tools to support your working day.
Choose cloud computing systems so you can collaborate and work across multiple devices and locations, and make sure they are well equipped with the right software and running well.
Create Time To Breathe
How many disruptions do you deal with during an average hour at your desk? Disruptions cost you mental energy and time, so focus on eliminating them where possible.
Studies have shown that it takes the brain up to fifteen minutes to re-focus on a task after an interruption – that’s a lot of lost time. Mute all notifications on your smartphone and lock it in a drawer during work, or look at apps for your computers like Concentrate which block social media and other websites. Batch process your email at set times rather than jumping on every message as it comes in, and always write buffer time into your schedule directly after a meeting – this means you can process the actions and fire off a few notes or memos straight away while everything is still fresh in your mind – and tick off a few things before they have a chance to fester away on your to-do list.
Remember to take regular screen breaks and try to get outside for a walk at lunchtime, no matter how snowed under you feel – doing this will kickstart your brain again and give you a productivity boost, so what you ‘spend’ in time you’ll gain back later in the day.