How to be more productive by doing less
It’s a common misconception that being productive and being busy are one and the same thing. In fact that couldn’t be further from the truth. Have you ever had one of those days where you literally don’t stop all day but at the end of it feel that you have actually achieved very little? This is a perfect example of being busy without being productive.
It’s better to tick off one task on a to do list that will actually drive you towards your business goals, than to tick off ten that aren’t really valuable.
Cutting the busyness from your business means that you will be less stressed, able to focus clearly on the bigger picture and develop a path towards your goals.
Here are our favourite tips for how to be more productive while being less busy.
Set up the foundations for a productive day the night before.
At the end of your working day always start by writing a to do list for the next day. Having a brain dump at the end of the day ensures you don’t forget anything over night. It also ensures you can forget everything overnight. You really can leave work after you’ve done this and not think about it until the next morning and have a good quality relaxing evening.
The more you relax in the evening the more energised you will feel in the morning and more ready and equipped to tackle the day’s challenges.
Before you go to bed, prepare for an effortless morning.
- Get your clothes ready the night before for the next day, make sure the outfit you want is clean and ironed and ready for you to put straight on in the morning.
- If you take your own lunch to work prepare the night before.
- Pack everything you need for work the next day – laptop, paperwork, glasses.
- Pack anything else you might need if you are going anywhere immediately before or after work, such as gym kit or bottle of wine to take to your friend’s for dinner that evening etc.
- Decide what you are going to have for breakfast.
Doing all of these things the night before may seem a pain when you just want to go to bed, but it pays off. Having everything prepared the night before means that in the morning you can get up and get ready pretty much on autopilot without having to use mental energy on low value decisions. There are only a finite amount of decisions anyone can make in a day so don’t expend mental energy early on anything trivial. There’s also no risk of a last minute panic if you can’t find anything which will set you off on the wrong frame of mind.
This also frees up time for you in the morning to concentrate on an activity that will boost your energy and set you up for the day.
Try some exercise, even for just a few short minutes to get your energy flowing. Notice how this affects not just your body but your mental alertness.
Alternatively, try meditation, just for a very short period of time at first and gradually build up. If you’re not comfortable with meditating just sit and clear your mind and relax for a few minutes to put you in the right frame of mind to tackle your day.
When you start work.
1. Spend a few minutes with a drink planning your day out. As Brian Tracy said, ‘Every minute spent planning saves 10 minutes in execution’. Look over the, to do list from yesterday with fresh eyes. Look at the list objectively, should all of these items really be on your to do list? Are they genuinely tasks that will help you achieve your business goals, and no one else can do them.
2. Tackle the most difficult tasks first. Get the biggest challenge out of the way first thing. you have more mental energy first thing in the morning so even a difficult task will be easier for you to accomplish first thing in the morning than it would be later in the afternoon. Also completing your tricky task first thing in the morning puts you in good shape for the rest of the day. You feel spurred on and motivated to take on other challenges. Conversely if you put it off until later in the day it will haunt you for the rest of the day and you won’t fulfil your other tasks to your full potential, so tackle it head on first thing.
3. Plan in breaks. Crazy as it sounds breaks are crucial to getting more done. At key points throughout the day have breaks factored in. This serves as a reward for completing your important tasks and to signal the end of a work section. Having regular breaks gives you the mental energy you need to reenergise and tackle the next block of work with more focus.
4. Make a plan to outsource. If you’re not already outsourcing tasks in your business, it’s something you should seriously consider. If you’re spending time on tasks throughout your week that are mundane and time consuming you could easily free up time outsourcing the tasks.
If you feel afraid of letting go or aren’t really sure where to start with outsourcing then take a look at our Ultimate Guide To Small Business Outsourcing for ideas on what to outsource and how to go about doing it in the most effective way.
Saving time each week through outsourcing tasks frees up your time to concentrate on the important stuff without being busy with lower value tasks.
5. Automate wherever possible. Automation is pretty much a no brainer as far as I’m concerned. If things can be done automatically, with little to no input from you that saves masses of time. There are so many tasks that can be automated, from emails to invoicing and much much more. The beauty of automation is that it takes an automated system no longer to produce, say 1000 invoices than it does 1 so even as you become more productive and generating more income, you are not creating extra tasks for yourself. QuickBook’s Invoicing Software, for example enables you to schedule recurring invoices, so you only need to do the work once. There are so many great apps and online tools to help you and the great news is so many of them are low cost, or, even better, FREE.
Read our blog post to find 17 things that you can automate in your business today.
You will need to spend a bit of time up front setting up your automation, but once it’s set up it will keep working away in the background, keeping your business running while you sleep.
So now you have freed up some time by outsourcing and automating what do you do? Focus on what is truly valuable to your business and what will produce results.
Want to take your productivity and business to the next level? If you really want to learn how to be more productive take our FREE Productivity Mini Course today.