Are you juggling a full time job and a home business? Productivity Tips will enable you to use your assets as leverage so that you can use the time you have more effectively and get more done with less stress.
What are you hoping that your business will give you? In order to answer this question you must know what you want.. Running a business is going to impact on every area of your life.
Maybe you're hoping that it will give you financial or time freedom. Maybe you want more time with your family. You're going to have to make sacrifices along the way. The main sacrifice being your time.
You may spend so much time on your business that you neglect your health and your family. You may get your financial and time freedom but become ill or lose your family along the way.
When you neglect aspects of your life they become a distraction and affect your productivity. If you have poor health you may suffer from low energy and poor concentration.
If you neglect your family and significant others you may find that you're having more arguments and this will affect you emotionally. When you are emotionally drained this has a negative effect on your productivity.
So here are the 9 Productivity Tips To Get More Done In Less Time For Home Business Owners Who Want To Stay Focused And Minimise Distractions
TIP #1 Know Your Goals In Each Area Of Your Life
You must take some time at the begin to identify all the areas of your life that are important to you and set a goal for each. The Wheel of life is a great tool that can help you to identify those areas of your life that are most important to you.
You need a way of prioritising areas of your life so that you know where you should be putting your attention. Your business will be one of these areas too. Use the Wheel of Life to find out where you are right now and where you want to improve.
We're not talking about work life balance in terms of every area should have equal attention. When you are building a business it takes a lot of focused work, time and effort. There are going to be times when you literally drop everything else to focus 100% on growing your business.
Identifying the goals in each area of your life means you can factor them into your monthly, weekly and daily regime. For example, if being part of a loving family is important you can schedule family time each week and date nights with your significant other.
If being healthy is important, you can schedule exercise into your daily and weekly schedule.
So go ahead and complete the Wheel of Life and identify the areas of your life and business you want to focus on
Now follow these 3 steps to get started.
In each area of your life decide where you want to be in 12 months time. In order to achieve that where do you need to be in the next 6 months. Now break it down into smaller milestones. 90 days, 30 days and 7 days.
Finally decide on the specific actions you need to take on a daily basis to achieve your goals.
It helps to write your goal out in the present tense as if you've already achieved it. You can do this for each of the milestones – 12 months, 6 months, 90 days, 30 days and 7 days.
Here is an example:
It is the 31st July 2017 and I am so happy and grateful that I now weigh 12 stones and I found it easy following my exercise regime and eating healthily every single day.
It is 31st July 2017 and I am so happy and grateful that I now have 2000 email subscribers which was so easy because I created and shared content on a daily basis.
You must have a purpose for your goals. It is not enough to just set a goal. As a part time home based business entrepreneur you'll be working hard and making sacrifices to achieve your goal whatever that may be. It may be that you:
– don't want the commute to a 9 to 5 job anymore
– want to provide a stable financial future for yourself and your partner as you head into retirement the years
– have health problems and you are worried about becoming ill and losing your job
– want to spend more time with your family
– have gone as far as you want in your career and want more out of life and on your terms
Whatever the reason, when things get tough (and they will) it can be easy to forget why you're making the sacrifices. The last thing you want is to lose your drive.
Knowing your purpose and keeping it within sight of you every day is the best way to keep you motivated and juiced up. Your purpose is the fuel that keeps you going towards your goals.
So as you write out your goals in each area of your life ask the following questions:
What is your purpose for achieving that goal?
Why do you want to achieve this?
What will it give you?
What will your life be like?
What emotions will you feel when you achieve this goal?
What will happen if you don't achieve this goal?
To avoid losing sight of your goals you can re-write them or read them out loud on a daily basis. I do a combination of both. I write out my goals and my daily outcomes in my journal. I also have my goals written on index cards that I keep in my journal too.
I use a journal to write out my goals and my daily outcomes.
TIP #2 Set Your Business Hours
When you get in from your job do you groan at the thought of sitting in front of a computer for another 3 to 4 hours. You are tired. All you want to do is sit in front of the TV and catch up with your latest favourite box set series.
I know what it feels like to feel as if you don't have enough time for yourself. Working a business alongside a full time job is not easy. If you also have school aged children this is an added pressure on your time.
There is nothing worse than trying to grab a bit of time here and there. When you're here, you're thinking about there. When you're there, you're thinking about here. It is difficult to be 100% focused on what you are doing in the moment.
I leave my house before 8 am each morning to get to my job and start my travel home at around 5 pm. On some days I start earlier and other days I finish later. Many productivity experts advise that you get up early and work on your most challenging task first thing in the morning.
This is a great idea but I have struggled to be part of the 5 am club. The idea of being able to work on my business for a couple of hours before commuting my job is great but I've not yet been able to sustain this for a long period of time. So my benefits from the productive me in the mornings.
If you can get up earlier in the mornings and put some time into your business that is great. If not, you need to be able to budget your time and your attention so that you can be your most productive during the hours you have.
I learned from Tim Sales a successful network marketer to split my 24 hour day in three thirds. It looks like this:
Sleep – 8 hours
Job – 8 hours
Everything else – 8 hours
This is a good point to take an audit of how you use your time. For a week keep a record of what you do for every 30 minutes of your day. Create a spreadsheet to help you to record this. It is important that you are completely honest with yourself.
Don't try to hide those 2 hours each evening watching your favourite box set, playing a computer game or candy crush on your phone. Once you have completed that exercise review the results.
Now review your goals. What is it that you want? How much of those 8 hours can you devote to working on achieving your goals? It is up to you.
My number one goal right now is building my business to a point where it will bring in a monthly income to replace my 9 to 5 salary. I can devote at least 4 hours each day to working on my business. I also devote 2 hours per to personal development and training. This is my travelling time to and from my job.
What about your weekends? Are you willing to make some sacrifices on Saturday and Sunday to devote time now to creating freedom for yourself in the future?
Check your goals. Make time for your other goals too.
Decide on the working hours that suit you and your personal circumstances. The important thing is setting them and then letting the significant people around you know that during those times you are working on your business.
Having set work hours means that you can also schedule other things in your life. Time with your family, time for exercise, time for fun and time for yourself. It will reduce burn out. It will help you to stay focused on what you are doing during that time.
TIP #3 Plan Tomorrow Today
You sit down at your computer to start work and before you know it an hour has gone by. You made the mistake of checking Facebook and got caught up watching funny videos and catching up the latest chatter.
Remember you only have a few hours to work on your business. You cannot afford to lose precious minutes or hours because you will not get them back.
You can be forgiven for dreaming that things would be a lot easier if you could work your business full time. Here's the thing. Why do you think you'll magically be able to be more productive if you had double the time?
It may help if you treated your business like your job. Depending on the type of job you have you probably know what you need to be doing each day.
It might help if you treated your business similar to how you treat your job. However, you are both the boss and the employee. You work on your business as well as in your business.
You must give yourself time to plan and prepare in advance. I first came across the time management quadrant in The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. I learned to focus my time on working in the not urgent not important quadrant and avoid as far as possible spending my time in the urgent and important quadrant.
This is not about planning every minute of your day from the point you get up to the point you go to bed. It is more a state of mind and an approach. It is being aware of your broader goals and prioritising those daily tasks that will take you to those goals eventually.
You must be willing to spend some time thinking about your outcomes for the following day. You may have a goal to visit the gym three times per week and work your business each day. If you visit the gym after work it means you will have less time that day to work on your business.
If you plan the day before it allows you do decide what task to prioritise in the time you have available. You get up in the morning and review your outcomes for the day.
You are reminded that you will be going to the gym so you make sure you pack you gym clothes. You get in from the gym and start working straight away on your prioritised task.
The other benefit is that your brain is not having to work overtime or use up energy having to think and make decisions on the spot. What do I need to do today? When can I fit that in? Have I got everything I need to get that done today? You get the picture.
Use your journal to write out your outcomes for the next day. Whilst you sleep your brain will have already started to work on whatever you've planned for the next day. You wake up feeling that you have control of the day and being able to respond to whatever may come up rather than being in reaction mode.
TIP #4 Determine Your Top 2 Priorities To Get Done Today
You may or may not be someone who uses a to do list. There's a lot of advice out there about to do lists. Some people say you shouldn't have a to do list. Others say that a to do list is essential to getting everything done that you need to get done.
Over the years I've tried various to do lists to help me keep on top of the work I need to do. I've used them in my job and I've used them in my business. I've spent hours learning a strategy, got started with it and then over time fallen off the wagon.
It does feel good to cross off something from your list. You get a hit of dopamine. What I do know though is that I don't like having a never ending list of tasks that I never get through and just gets bigger and bigger each day.
My whole approach to creating to do lists changed when I used Tony Robbins' The Time Of Your Life RPM Life Management System. It taught me to set goals in each area of my life, identify my why and create a massive action plan to take me towards the achievement of my goals. Does this sound familiar? This is where we started.
Now I don't use the system fully but it rewired my brain so now I think in terms of outcomes rather than to dos. I will set an outcome for the next 30 days and for the week based on my long term goal.
When I prioritise on a daily basis I'm focused on those specific tasks that will result in the outcome I'm looking for. I then get to work on the tasks required to complete that outcome.
The idea is to have less on your list so that you get that dopamine hit when you cross it off.
Now you may be forgiven for thinking that having less items on your list means you get less done. This is not the case. By having less on your list it means you will be more focused and more able to complete those tasks.
It is important to understand that there is a difference between a task and a project/goal. Some people put goals as tasks and then wonder why they never complete their goal.
A task requires just one step to complete it. A goal/project usually requires more than one task to complete.
So if you wanted to process your emails that would be a task. However, if you wanted to set up a system to process your emails that is a project or goal because you would be completing a series of tasks to complete it.
Step 1 – Create a list of 5 tasks to be completed today. (Remember you do this for the next day)
Step 2 – Decide which two tasks are the most important to complete today.
Step 3 – Choose the one task that you absolutely must get done today if you couldn't get anything else done.
You have gone through a process of prioritising and then picking just one task that you are going to start and finish no matter what happens today.
This has everything to do with task completion. This is all about getting that feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day.
TIP #5 Focus On One Thing At A Time
When you have little time to get things done it is tempting to want to multi task. Somehow you believe that if you're working across several tasks at the same time you'll compress time and get them done faster.
The thought of focusing on only one thing at a time is counter intuitive to you. If you're anything like me multi tasking makes things more interesting and less boring.
When you have a to-list with lots of items it is natural to want to get them all done. You start on one thing, get distracted and flip to another. You go back to the first but then find yourself dipping into something else on your list.
Each item on your list is vying for your attention. You are not finishing anything but you feel as if you're moving several things forward at the same time.
You are talking on the telephone whilst trying to read your emails or scrolling through the newsfeed on your social media account. You miss something that the caller says but you don't want to ask them to repeat what they're saying.
You carry on having the conversation hoping that there'll be a clue to what was said previously. Whilst doing this you're still checking through your emails.
Once you put down the phone you go back through the same emails because you've forgotten the contents. You were splitting your attention and only partially engaged in a conversation. Two times incomplete does not equal a whole.
You see when you're multi tasking your brain is actually focusing on one thing at a time. It is having to rapidly switch from one task to another, refocusing and then using up energy to refocus on the next task. This is terribly inefficient and a lot of work for your brain.
Computers give the illusion of multi tasking. They are in fact doing one thing at a time but at super speed. The sad news is that you are not a computer.
Keep doing this and the consequence is burn out.
Just like time you need to budget your attention. You want to be able to give your full 100% attention to whatever you're doing at that time. When you give your full attention to something you become more purposeful in what you are doing. You allow your brain to do what it does best and that is to process information and be creative and innovative.
For many years I happily described myself as a multi tasker and was proud of it. I thought I was getting a lot done. It was an illusion. I now know that I could have been more productive and efficient if I focused on one thing at a time.
Even whilst writing this I'm tempted by my internal distractions but I now know the benefits of disciplining myself to stay on one thing.
Once you have identified the most important task on your list that is what you work on until it is done. Once that task is done you can move onto the next one. Decide to do this for a week and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
TIP #6 Plan Your Breaks, Meals And Keep Hydrated
You finish your job and either drive or use public transport to get home. You decide to stop off at the local gas station or corner shop to grab a quick snack. You get home, sit at your computer and work straight through into the early hours of the morning.
When you're passionate about something and in the flow of work the last thing you want to do is take a break. You're tired but you keep yourself going by grabbing smalls snacks. You get up in the morning feeling sluggish. It's not surprising that after a full day at work you get home and cannot face working on your business.
Your purpose is one type of fuel that is driving you but without proper nutrition and water your health will eventually suffer. You cannot spend your money if you're dead.
That may seem extreme but lack of self care will play a toll on your productivity, your focus, concentration and ultimately your health.
When you plan tomorrow today that is a good time to plan your breaks, when and what you'll eat and hydrate. You're getting two jobs done in one. There is a lot of information out there about when is the best time to take a break, how long and what you should do in your break.
The important thing is to find something that suits you because we are all different. You may have to do some experimentation to begin with. Make a commitment to take a break even if you don't feel that you need to.
I used to work for hours without taking a break. I'd get in from my job quickly prepare a meal and then straight onto the computer. The next thing I knew it was the early hours of the morning. I hadn't even gotten up for a comfort break.
In the evenings I'd keep myself going with packets of crisps, biscuits or make myself toast to keep myself awake. It was the same at the weekends too.
I wasn't getting enough sleep. I was eating junk food late at night. I felt lethargic. I put on weight too.
I now take regular breaks. I use the Pomodoro technique. I work in 30 minute blocks. I use a timer and when the alarm goes off I stop. I take a 5 minute break. I drink a glass of water. I visit the bathroom. I take a short walk. I keep a bottle of water on my desk. I've also started to use an app to monitor my daily intake.
I have started preparing meals for the week at the weekend. On the days that my partner is not home I have pre prepared meals that I can heat up for my son and I.
It is important to follow this same process for the weekends too. Plan your breaks and what you're going to eat for the whole day.
TIP #7 Start The Day By Eating A Frog
“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day” Mark Twain
I have just finished reading the book “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy. So it is fitting that I include it here as one of my productivity tips.
There is usually a task that you don't like that you keep putting off. We all hear about students leaving their assignment to the last minute, right up to the deadline. We all have tasks that we procrastinate on. The idea of eating a frog is that you tackle your least favourite task before you do anything else.
When you procrastinate you put something off to do at a later time but it still takes up space in your brain. So although you may be engaged in a task that you enjoy, that other not so pleasant task is still sitting there reminding you that it has not been done. Usually you force yourself to do it because the consequences of not doing it outweighs the consequence of continuing to procrastinate about it.
One of the tasks I do daily is prospecting. I use social media to meet new people and build my network. This is vital to grow my business so that I have an audience to promote my services to in the future. Meeting new people is my frog not because I don't like meeting people but it is more about me being an introvert. Once I get into it though and start having conversations with people I really enjoy it. I procrastinate on getting started.
When I eat my frog first thing I get a great feeling crossing it off my to do list. Now even if for some reason I don't complete the other tasks on my list I already feel a sense of achievement.
So each day when you plan tomorrow today you must identify your frog and commit to getting that done first thing. It will set the tone for the rest of your work session and watch out because you'll become unstoppable.
TIP #8 Use Time Blocking
Your business requires you to take on many roles. As well as the owner you have to do a variety of tasks including admin, content creation, prospecting, marketing, budgeting, sales, follow up and this does not cover everything. It can sometimes feel as if you're only scratching the surface.
You have the idea for an epic blog post or you want to create a free give away for your prospects. You decide to work on it over the next week or month. A month later it is still not complete. You've been able to do bits here and there but you've just not been able to really dig deep into it and give it your best.
Time blocking has become my secret weapon staying focused on a task until completion. This is all about protecting your time to complete tasks that are important to you. Now we've already talked about identifying your most important tasks and then focusing on one thing at a time.
I used time blocking to create this productivity tips eBook. I chose a bank holiday weekend. I blocked out time over the three days to research and produce a first draft.
Here is what happened. On the third day I reviewed what I'd written and decided I was not happy with how I'd structured the content. I found it easy to come up with new ideas and revamp what I'd written.
I would have found this a lot harder to do had I been working on it an hour here and there over a few weeks. Working in larger uninterrupted time blocks allows my brain to do what it does best which is to be creative and come up with new ideas.
You can decide to set your business time into time blocks to work on specific tasks in your business. Whether you have only a few hours or you have a whole day this can work for anything.
Think about when you arrange an appointment with someone. Maybe it is with a client or maybe you're going to meet a friend for a social activity. You schedule that time in your diary and if anything else comes up you say you already have a commitment for that time. You protect it. Unless of course there is an emergency. You attend that meeting or that social event. You are there for the duration.
You treat time blocks in much the same way. You set an appointment with yourself to work on a task to completion. It requires that you estimate how long it is going to take you. It is an estimation because you may not actually know how long it will take.
The important thing is to not underestimate the time. Give yourself a bit more than you think you will need.
TIP #9 Keep Distractions And Disruptions At Bay
According to some experts it can take an average of around 25 minutes to refocus after a distraction. When you have only a few hours to work on your business and even less if you're working on specific tasks this is time you cannot afford to lose.
Distractions come from different sources:
Communication tools. The internet, email, phone, instant messaging and social media are just some of the communication tools that are now part of our everyday life. They can be a real help to us but they can also control us.
You must be willing to set clear boundaries. People do not need to have immediate access to you. People should not expect to have an immediate response from you.
We've talked about time blocks and how they can be your secret weapon to being super productive. You can also use time blocking to control and handle the communication tools you use.
Use time blocks to communicate with people at certain times during the day and for how long you are engaged in that activity, for example, social media. Let people know that you have a schedule for getting back to them and at the beginning of a communication be sure to let them know your time is limited.
Processing emails. This warrants some time to discuss because many people suffer from email overwhelm. A lot of people work out of their inbox and continuously review the same emails without dealing with them. I use David Allen's Getting Things Done approach to processing emails. I follow his 2 minute rule. If I can deal with an email within 2 minutes I deal with it there and then. I delete and then process emails into the following folders – Action, Waiting For, Reference and Read/Review.
Other people. These include people you work with such as business partners, people within your business network, your family and friends who are around you in your home. If you are a parent your children are dependent on you and time can be a constant challenge.
For the adults in your life, let them know your business hours and that you don't want to be disturbed during certain times. You must be consistent. If you are too flexible and keep changing your time this will give them permission to expect you to change your time to suit them.
If it is difficult getting uninterrupted time at home consider going to a different location. I have worked out of the library and hotel foyer before.
If you are a parent you may need to be more flexible. However, it does mean setting boundaries for both you and your children. Can you work when the children are asleep? Can someone sit with them?
Internal distractions. You're probably not so aware of this but our own thoughts and ideas will distract us from what we are working on in the current moment. This can sometimes happen when you are sleep deprived and feeling very tired.
If you are tired you must work on getting sufficient sleep. Decide how much sleep you need. At least 7 hours is recommended. Set a routine to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
When thoughts keep streaming into your mind, you're constantly having to refocus yourself onto the task at hand. Have your journal open so that when ideas come into your head just jot them down. This means you won't forget them and you can easily review the ideas later.
BONUS TIP #10 Delegate And Outsource
You believe that if only you had more time you'd be able to do more and achieve more in your business. For a long time I wondered how so many people achieving success managed to achieve success in their business managed to do so whilst holding down a full time job. I was in awe of people who building successful business in only a few hours a day.
If you've heard this too you're probably thinking what is it that they have that you don't have. Well they have a secret. It is not because they are better than you. That secret is outsourcing. A number of them delegate and pay a third party to complete a task.
If you've not started delegating tasks it is probably because you think you can do it cheaper, better and faster than a third party.
When you're starting out you don't have the free cash to hire labour so you believe you can do it cheaper.
You know what is required to get the task done because you created it, so you believe you can do it better than a third party.
It would take time to train a third party and do checks. You get it done faster if you do it yourself.
I was reluctant to outsource for some of the reasons above. However, I realised that there were some repetitive tasks that I could outsource that would release me to do those tasks that required my creativity.
When I wrote and published a series of children's eBooks I learned how to format the books and make the contents clickable in the eBook. However, it took me quite a while to do this.
I quickly realised that jut because I knew how to do it didn't mean I had to do it myself. I paid someone $5 to complete that task. I spent the hour that it would have taken me to work on higher value activities.
You have to consider what your time is worth. If you consider your time is worth $50 per hour is it really time and cost effective to spend an hour on a task that you can pay someone $5 to do. You want to be working smarter not harder.
In order to multiply the time you have available and the quality of that time you need to consider outsourcing. If you create written content for a blog consider outsourcing uploading the content to your blog and sharing it to social media. You can create videos and outsource the uploading of the videos to video sharing sites and sharing across social media.
You may not be in a position right now to outsource but you can start preparing for the time when your business will allow you to do it. The first thing to do is to create a checklist for every task you do in your business.
When you are ready to delegate and outsource you have your operating processes in the form of checklists to give to the person you hire.
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