“There is never enough time in the week.”
Everyone says it, but no one has an answer to help make the work we do an easier process. We could all use some guidance to help prioritize and attack our workweek but just don’t have time to research better ways to work. Well here are a few tips you may be able to skim and pick up on.
As a freelance “Marketing Guru” that has multiple small businesses for customers, I often find myself in the middle of several projects going on at the same time. While gaining anxiety from the “unread emails” piling up in my inbox, I attempt to finish the project I didn’t finish yesterday …
Before we head into a downward spiral of procrastination, let’s take a look at a few habits and techniques that can help you boost your productivity, or at least, give you a good checklist of things to score through your day.
Stop Late-Night: Start Early-Morning
There was a time that I would stay up until 2AM editing photos, getting in that last social media schedule, or finishing that report I wanted to get to the customer ASAP. It doesn’t need to be that way. Chances are, your customers, or coworkers, are not up until 2AM eagerly awaiting that “Oh, so important report.” It can wait.
You aren’t doing yourself or your business any favors by sending emails while you are running on empty. Get yourself a decent nights rest, approximately 7-8 hours of sleep each night. You’ll wake up refreshed, fully aware, and productive. By calling a stopping point in your productivity, you are becoming self-aware of when the quality of your work becomes compromised. Often times, you may find that the work you are doing late at night needs to be redone or corrected the next day because you overlooked some details (aka you were too tired.)
Whatever the time limit should be for your personal life, set a time, stick to the time, and STOP. You will be more productive and efficient by getting a good nights rest.
Get in a Workout
Since you got a good nights rest, why not get up an hour earlier and get your workout on? Try and do it first thing in the morning. You get a chance to focus on yourself and get the blood pumping so you can tackle the day. Take a long run and listen to a podcast, hit up the gym and lift some weights, or work out to a home program with your online subscription. All of these options give you the opportunity to be in your own mind, and to plan/strategize for the day ahead, while improving your personal fitness.
Once you have completed your exercise and have a decent checklist of things to do in your head, hit the showers and get ready for the day where you can…
Make a To-Do List
This is the most visual way that you can track your accomplishments.
You can use apps like Todoist to write reminders on your iPhone. All you need to have is a visible list. Simply pick out the top 5 things you can accomplish in a given day, and then add on a few things to your “wish list” for extra bonus points!
Personally, I would put down major projects with upcoming deadlines, emails to important clients, and things that generate revenue (invoicing, marketing campaigns, and promotional opportunities) as major items on my to-do list. Things I would put in the “wish list” are extra bonuses like scheduling social media postings, networking emails, promotional gifts for customers, making new business cards, and promotional swag, etc. These are all things you can do after the to-list list is complete — making your “wish list” like frosting on one hell of a cake.
You should also take a look at things on your list that MUST BE DONE by you. If you can delegate the work to one of your employees or vendors — do it. You should only be working on projects that you are really good at. If you are terrible at invoicing, hire someone to do it faster. If you are terrible at making flyers, hire the local graphic design kid to do it for you for $35.
Things you don’t get accomplished, it’s okay, no problem, just start with a new list for tomorrow.
Take a Smoke/Coffee Break
I have personally found that when I am getting stuck on a project, I find the answers when I walk away from my desk and clear my head. Sometimes you get to a point and you just need to say “Screw it, I’m going to grab a smoke…” and head outside, or grab coffee, or whatever. This gives you a chance to have some human interaction with other people in the world and possibly find your solution.
You give yourself a chance to get outside of the development realm of your business and just be social. You may meet up with a smoking/coffee buddy and talk about your frustrations. So step away, find a human, and vent a little. You never know what solution you may be missing out on!
Only Check Email and Social Media 2 Times A Day
This can be one of the biggest distractions that keeps you from finishing what you have started. It sucks any momentum you have. You know it’s true.
Example: You’re in the middle of a project, the email notification goes off, so you flip your desktop to check the new message. “Oh, it’s only a Best Buy newsletter about the new Destiny 2 game coming out. Wait, Destiny 2 is coming out in September?! Let me check on this..” So you head over to Twitter to check out the news on their official page, and see they have a Facebook article linked. Head over to Facebook to check out the article, and notice you have notifications that you must check while you are here…
And the downward spiral begins…
Limit your email and social media to lunches or at the end of completing a project on your list. Once you can check something off of your to-do list, reward yourself with 10 minutes to check in with the rest of the world. But set a timer!
Just like this article you are reading now, you should be fired up to make a list and get some work done. So get to it, the alarm has gone off on your social media time. Let’s get to work! Tweet us @StarterNoise.
Mike has great experience in the areas of Photography, Graphic Design, Videography, Web Design, and Social Media Marketing. He serves as the “Marketing One-Stop-Shop” for several small businesses in the Milwaukee area, and continues to push the envelope with stunning visuals and upcoming trends.