As the year draws to an end, it becomes more and more difficult to stay focused and be productive. Here are some tips on being productive for the last push of 2018.
Use time blocks
It takes seven minutes to get back on track after just one minute of distraction. Prioritise your time according to activities scheduled throughout the day. For example, put aside 30 minutes to check and answer emails. Emails can often take up a lot of your time. Elon Musk sets aside half an hour to answer critical emails. He filters out any emails or communications that are not important and only responds to those items that are most important.
Focus on the very specific task you set in the time you allocate it. This will allow you to cross off the said task and move on to the next. Get started with the important items that require the most effort.
This cannot be emphasised enough! Lists are great. They create structure and a plan for you to stick to. There are also not many feelings more gratifying than crossing an item off a list or deleting it from your phone. Interestingly, every time you cross an item off of your to-do list, you are hit with a drop of dopamine, your reward hormone. This encourages us to keep going and tick off those items. Tie this into your time blocker and cross out the task and time as complete once done.
Lists are also a great way of tracking your progress. It also decreases the changes of overlooking an item. Prioritise your list according to High, Medium and Low items. Focus on completing the High priority items before moving on to Medium. Low priority items should be dealt with last and can be moved to the next day if necessary.
Based on the time block mentioned above, you should only focus on one task at a time. Multi-tasking is one of the worst things that you can do. You are not giving your full attention to the task at hand. Rather focus on one task at a time and getting that done before moving on to the next task. If you dart between tasks, you are likely going to be left with a lot of open and incomplete tasks at the end of each day.
Cut out distractions
Don’t be pulled into the abyss of social media for example. You could waste time browsing through Facebook, etc. If it is necessary to check out your social media sites, why not set aside a specific time to do so. Block it in your schedule.
Some recommendations to defeat distractions:
Plan, prioritise and set deadlines
Turn off social media and all the notifications that come with it
Avoid unexpected meetings or visits
Stay clear of noisy or uncomfortable environments
Avoid personal phone calls and texting
Learn the power of no
Allocating your time and resources to do the things that are important and worthwhile to you will ensure optimised productivity. Say no to projects that will lead you in a direction that you don’t believe will not grow you or your business.
Steve Jobs was known for being a rather brutal leader. He would focus on only the best ideas. The top executives would create a list of 100 ideas on how Apple could improve the following year. Steve would immediately cross off ninety “no” items until he had a top 10 list. Following this he would only focus on 3 ideas. Meaning only 3% of ideas were worth spending his time on.
As an entrepreneur, you may feel the need to be everything to everyone. But know your strengths and your weaknesses. Time is money. Know which activities produce income and have the greatest impact on your business. What activities drive revenue, increase clients and produce results. Focus on the things that you are capable of in order to create results. Those other items that you are not too great at, look at hiring them out. Do not waste time or energy on them.
To meet or not to meet
How often are the meetings you attend a total waste of time? Meetings, although an opportunity to network, communicate or collaborate can often be chaotic and drain your time and energy. Meetings need to be highly organised, planned and executed in order to run efficiently.
Jeff Bezos implements a “two-pizza” rule and never invites more people to a meeting than two pizzas could sufficiently feed. Loss of time is directly correlated to the number of people at a meeting. Fifteen minutes of wasted time can turn into three hours when there are twelve or more people in a room.
Organise your week smartly, and keep one day a week meeting free. This frees up travel time to and from meetings and of course the time spent in the meeting itself. Clear all events from your calendar that day. This ensures at least one full workday a week is spent productively focusing on income generating tasks.
In conclusion, with access to data so readily available at our fingertips, it is often quite difficult to shut down. It’s really important to set your own boundaries. Create office hours and do not work outside of these. Shut off when you can and stick to it. Taking breaks has been known to increase productivity. Think of ways to recharge yourself. Being productive relies on you having a positive mental state and energy to complete tasks. Some habits you can look at implementing:
Eat healthy. Refrain from eating junk food. A balanced diet is key to energy
Sleep well. As an entrepreneur you end up putting in a lot more hours than the standard 8 hours a day. Make sure you get enough rest. This will improve your mood and ability to focus.
Work out. Exercise will make you feel alert and is a great way to boost energy.