When I first started my business I was inconsistent when it came to productivity. One day I’d finish an entire list of tasks and others I’d struggle to finish one thing. Or I’d spend the entire day bouncing between my inbox, Asana, my paper planner and back again, only to look up at the clock and discover the day was over and I only half-finished tasks that were on my list.
Now, as an Operations + Project Manager, I’m excited to be hitting new productivity levels, and help my clients get there as well.
#1 Plan when you’ll work on and in your business
Most entrepreneurs don’t set specific days to work on projects and tasks that will help move them closer to their goals and grow their business. Instead, they focus all of their time and energy on their clients, and any spare time they have gets devoted to their goals and other business-related things.
A recent step I’ve taken to become more productive, is to change my schedule so I spend more time on my business than in my business. I currently work 4 days a week on client work and 1-2 days on my business, whereas, I used to spend one day a month or a quarter focused on my business.
Here’s an example of what a typical week could look like:
Monday: Discovery + client calls, client work
Tuesday: CEO Day (time to work on your business)
Wednesday: Client calls, client work
Thursday: Client work, work on quarterly goals
Friday: Client work
Look at your calendar. When do you generally have meetings? Can you consolidate those days into one or two days a week? Next look at your client workload, do you have specific days that you do client work? Look at your week and determine what day you’ll do what. I recommend keeping it broad so that you don’t feel restricted. You may choose to split CEO Day into two days, with some client work during part of the day. How you break your week up is up to you, just make sure it fits with the way you work, it’ll make it easier to stick with!
#2 Create a daily wind-up routine
Whether you start your day at 6am or 6pm, you can have a wind-up routine. A wind-up routine is what you do to start off each day, the best part is that it’s not dependent on a specific time of day, so you can do this even if you’re working odd hours.
I’ve found that I work best in the mornings and evenings, and less so in the early afternoon. Because I have allowed myself to loosely structure my days, I work when I feel productive and take breaks or work on less brain-draining tasks when I’m not feeling overly productive.
Here’s a look at my daily wind-up routine:
- Walk the dog and enjoy some fresh air
- Read and journal for 20 minutes while I enjoy a cup of tea and a muffin
- Add appointments happening to my planner
- Check email and Asana for tasks that need to be done today
- Determine top 3 MUST DO’s and 3 WANT TO DO’s and add them to my planner
- Add the rest of the tasks on my task list to Asana — if I complete my top 3 must and 3 want to do’s, then I can work on these ones
- Head into my home office and get started on the top 3 tasks
Write out your ideal wind-up routine and keep it in a place you’ll see it until it becomes a consistent habit.
#3 Break down your day into your top tasks
I use a paper planner for my day-to-day tasks and reminders. While I’m a huge fan of keeping tasks and projects in Asana, I still love physically crossing things off of a list and seeing only the things that need to be done today in one place.
As a project manager, I’m a part of several Asana accounts, so instead of hopping around Asana, I write only the tasks that need to be done today in my paper planner. This has helped me to cut down on time spent going between accounts and projects figuring out what I need to do. I do it once, upfront at the beginning of the day.
Go through your task lists, calendar, and inbox, and determine what are the top 3 things that must get done today and 3 things that you want to do. If you complete those 6 things, pick 3 more things from your main to-do list.
#4 Use sprints to break down your day
In addition to planning a rough outline to my day, I use the Pomodoro Technique to break my day into small sprints.
Break your day into smaller sprints of 25 or 52-minutes with a 17-minute break using an app to keep you on track. Try the Focus app, Tide App, or the WorkBreaker app which lets you set custom work and break times.
Not everyone works well with a strict schedule, and what has helped me overall become more productive is to start small and get consistent with one strategy. Then once you’ve gotten consistent with that strategy, start to increase it and add more structure to it. Before you know it, you’ll become a productivity machine!
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