There are only so many hours in a day and even less in a work day. You may think that 8 hours is a long time, but when you have a laundry list of things to do within your day, it's really not that long. So how can you get everything done and not have to work late? You need to find ways to be productive and find ways to get all of your tasks done within that work day. We've learned a lot in the years that we have been in business and we have learned through trial and error the best ways to be productive.
It's important to start the day knowing what you have to do that day and when you plan to get that task done. Write down everything: meetings, business appointments, phone calls, personal appointments and even tasks. Schedule it all! This will help you to see exactly how much free time you really have in your day and will allow you to schedule blocks of time for absolutely everything. If you find yourself spending too much time on one task, scheduling it out into a chunk of time is the way to go! Don't allow a one hour task take you more than that one hour.
Work on Your Business During Work
As tempting as it may be to text friends,hop on phone calls with long lost relatives, play Angry Birds or surf the web; keep those personal tasks for after work hours. Once you get distracted, it's hard to get back into the swing of things.
Distractions are one of the main killers of productivity. Think about this: That one hour phone call with your Uncle George takes away one hour of your time from an important business task. If you waited until after work hours to talk to your Uncle George, you could have a task crossed off your to-do list!
Create a To-Do List
Take a half hour each morning to start your work day off on a productive note. Write down the most important business tasks first. This should include any time-sensitive tasks or tasks that you know have to get done that day. After you write down the most important business tasks, prioritize your tasks after that. The last group of tasks should be tasks that you can either delegate to another employee (or VA) or tasks that can wait until another day. Chances are, you may not get to that task by the end of the work day. As you knock out those tasks, check it off the list. This will help you to see that you are making headway and you will feel motivated to keep going.
If you don't finish every task, don't worry! Rome wasn't built in a day! Migrate that task to the next day or another day that week. Do you see a task that keeps getting migrated day after day? Consider if that task is really important to you. Will it make or break your business? Can you just cross that off your list?
Hire a Virtual Assistant
When you hire a Virtual Assistant you get an independent contractor who is there to serve you and your business. If you have a laundry list of to-dos, you can easily delegate a good portion of those tasks to a Virtual Assistant so that you can focus on the main aspects of your business or have more time with your family. A Virtual Assistant dedicates their entire career to trying to make life and business better for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Keep Your Work Area Clutter Free
When you have a desk full of paperwork that is spread everywhere, it's extremely difficult to concentrate and stay productive. In fact, it has been proven that clutter hinders productivity! I suggest to get a file folder and label it "Immediate Action"; put all papers that are important and need to be acted on inside that folder. You can keep that folder on your desk, but your papers will be neatly inside that folder and not all over your desk.
Another suggestion is to only keep the essentials on your desk. Keep a notepad, some pens, pencils, scissors, white out, etc... Anything that you use on a consistent everyday basis. This will allow you to easily reach the items that you use frequently and other items that you use less frequently can be housed in desk drawers.
Keeping your desk free of clutter will allow you to boost your productivity and feel less stressed!
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is something that I think a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners take for granted. Getting enough sleep each night is vital in refreshing your body and allowing you to think more freely. It will also help you boost your productivity because you won't be tired when you arrive at your desk.
It's important not to take your work home with you, don't work late into the night and if your mind is too cluttered; perform a brain dump. A brain dump (very simply put) is getting out a piece of paper and writing down anything that's on your mind. It could be business related, personal life related, things you have to purchase, etc... This will help to clean out your mind and allow your brain to rest. It's extremely hard to sleep when your brain keeps running a million miles a minute.
Take a Break
I like to take a few short breaks throughout the day because running a business is stressful. I limit my breaks to 10 minutes here and there just to get up, stretch and allow my brain to reset. You can do anything non-work related in that 10-15 minutes but I suggest to get out of the office or away from your desk and take a short walk.