Being super duper focused and getting entire piles of work done in a day is not one of my strong suits. Sure, I get quite a bit accomplished each day, but I know I also squander a lot of my time. So this year, it has been a goal of mine to improve my focus and my productivity. Not that spring is upon us, it feels, more than ever, like it’s time to kick that goal into high gear.
I’ve picked up a few new habits that I am sure will help you burn through your To Do list at a faster rate. After all, it’s not always about getting a lot accomplished, but getting the right things accomplished that will help your creative business succeed.
1. Track Your Hours
Like many business owners, I used to believe that running around like a madwoman and checking things off my list was proof that I was successful. Just because you are sitting in front of a computer doesn’t mean you are getting important things done. After signing up for FreshBooks and segmenting my day into “projects,” I realized that a good part of my time was spent doing busy work and unimportant tasks. I’m still working to get this under control, but keeping careful track of how I spend my time is making it better.
2. Break Down Your To-Do List
I tend to get overwhelmed easily, and I think it’s easy for all business owners to feel this way. Something that helps me avoid stress is breaking my large weekly to-so list down into smaller daily task lists. I’m able to make a dent in larger projects by completing smaller, manageable tasks.
3. Prioritize the Night Before
As you prepare for tomorrow, pinpoint three tasks on your daily to-do list that you must complete. Try leaving them on a brightly colored post-it note on your desk or computer so you see them right when you begin work the next morning. These are essential tasks that should have your full attention.
4. Get Comfortable Saying “No”
If you are having a hard time keeping up with what you have already set out to do, say “no” to all other inquiries coming your way. I find it very difficult to “leave money on the table,” but this just leads to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Now when I’m asked to work on a project I take a bit of time to reply. I think about what I have going on and whether I really want to work on the project or not. Is it worth the amount of time I’ll lose to work on my regular work?
5. Automate Repetitive Tasks
I often found myself working on the same old repetitive tasks. Automating some of these tasks helped me streamline my work. For example, if you find yourself answering the same questions from customers over and over, you might need to clarify your Shop Policies or add a FAQ section to your website or blog.
6. Avoid Procrastination
Many entrepreneurs struggle with procrastination. It can be tempting to focus on non-essential tasks instead of tackling more important ones. I find that it is important to me to get the three big tasks for the day completed first thing. That way, I feel successful and motivated and I’m less likely to allow myself to get sidetracked. Also, if there are tasks that I find unpleasant for one reason or another, I get to those right away too.