One of the things people seem to struggle with, consistently, is productivity. We all know the majority of people have trouble taking action, but those of us that take action, always want to improve our productivity.
There’s nothing more I hate than a day where I have a big to-do list in front of me, and at the end of the day, realizing I didn’t accomplish anything worth while.
While technology advances and takes up a bigger part of our lives, we can use it to benefit us for sure. However, it can also cause internet attention deficit disorder and be a business killer for those wanting to be in charge of their income.
Facebook can suck hours out of our day, email, instagram and other social media can cause us to lose focus. Just random thoughts and questions you may have, can lead you down the rabbit hole of information overload with Google at your fingertips.
So what do we do?
We have to have a system for increasing our productivity.
7 Tips to Boost Productivity And Make More Money
You’ve heard a lot of tips before, usually generic stuff like check email once a day and other things that aren’t really practical for business owners. Maybe for 9-5 drones but not for business owners and entrepreneurs whose work days often start the moment they open their eyes, and end when they go to sleep at night.
So here are some tips that are going to boost your productivity, and also increase the money in your pocket, because time is money and whatever we can do to increase efficiency and allow us to have more time, is going to bring us more money.
Tip 1 – The Truth About Email and Productivity
You’ve probably seen it in forums, other blog posts, generic business articles in big magazines, that you should check your email once or twice a day.
These people obviously don’t understand what it means to run a small business.
If someone emails you or fills out a contact form on your website, and they’re interested in an estimate or quote… you better be quick to respond. Waiting longer than an hour, drastically reduces your chances of closing the sale.
Sure, checking email shouldn’t be an obsessive thing, but you need to check regularly. You just need to limit how often.
I recommend checking your email once an hour. Only to see if there is a revenue generating email in your inbox. All other emails and inquiries can wait until a dedicated time.
You know the difference between a newsletter style email and one that can be a potential client. Don’t even read most of the junk that clogs your inbox when you glance once an hour, just look for possible revenue generating inquiries.
Tip 2 – Have a Block Schedule For Tasks
Having a to-do list is great. I have one, actually 9 full sized legal pads next to me at my desk. I always write things down as I need to, for things I need to do, either now or later.
A To-Do list isn’t enough though. You always end up moving certain tasks to the next page or avoiding them for whatever reason. Maybe the reason is a good one, like if you want to focus on the higher impact tasks. Other times, we avoid doing things because we just don’t want to do it.
What I like to do is use Google Calendar, and schedule my week in advance. I break tasks into categories, for example, if I want to use social media for business purposes, I will schedule a 30 minute block. 30 minutes, and that’s it, no time later for social media.
For this blog, 30 minutes would give me plenty of time to queue up buffer for my twitter feed, share and contribute in a couple Google+ communities, maybe answer a few questions on Quora. There’s a lot you can do in 30 minutes.
The same applies for cleaning and responding to emails. Even though you should take a glance each hour, schedule a 30 minute block to catch up, and respond to less urgent emails once each day. If it only takes you 10 minutes, then spend the remaining time on other time sucking things (Google analytics, any kind of statistics) so you don’t get distracted later.
Having a schedule with 30 minute blocks, doesn’t replace your to-do list, it just helps you complete tasks in batches, which is usually more efficient than jumping around from thing to thing.
Or you can use a similar strategy like the Pomadora Technique. The video below describes it pretty concisely.
Tip 3 – Use Technology To Help Your Productivity
Technology can be a big distraction for those that can’t keep themselves under control. Here are some tools to help you be more productive.
Buffer to schedule social posting: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or whatever your poison is for generating a bit of traffic can be time consuming. I use Buffer for this blog and have used it for clients in the past. Using this once a week will save you a lot of time overall.
Toggl / Rescue Time to understand how you spend your time. Using Toggl you have to enter everything you do, and can analyze how you spend your time. Where is the waste? Rescue Time is a more automated solution for computer specific activities.
Zapier or IFTTT to setup workflows and automate tasks. I use Zapier for this blog and a few other things I do. Some are basic things like when someone buys my Ultimate Blueprint to Start a Web Agency it zaps their information from gumroad and adds the email to a list in Aweber. You can use it to save client attachments to dropbox, get a text message when someone fills out a contact form, etc. A ton of things you can do with this.
Evernote to save interesting information. I use evernote a lot. I use it to help manage my email, using “The Secret Weapon” method. I also use it for content I come across that I want to read but don’t have time to yet. It’s a must for any marketer!
Teamwork for Project Management. I’ve used a lot of project management platforms in the past and it always seemed like you spend more time working around the platform than the time you save by using it. Teamwork is different, very easy to use, you can use task list templates for projects that require the same basic grunt work tasks, etc so you save time managing projects.
Unroll.Me for Managing Email. Unroll.me is pretty cool, it helps unsubscribe from things you probably want to unsubscribe from but don’t have the time to go through the countless emails. You can also round up the subscriptions you WANT, all in one overview. Great for managing all the social alert emails you get.
Of course, you shouldn’t put your income bully subscription in the overview, you want that the second I send out an email, right?
Tip 4 – Know When To Say NO!
This seems like one of the most basic things but people have a hard time doing it.
One of the biggest time wastes and killer of productivity, is being unable to say no. Now, I’m not referring to clients or helping family members, though sometimes you should still say no to them too, but I’m talking about your own projects and ideas.
Sometimes, it’s what you’re working on, that you should say “No, this isn’t worth it, it’s not going to help me get closer to my goals”. Or maybe it’s a project you’ve been working on and it just isn’t coming together, it isn’t profitable and you’re at a cross road where you need to decide whether to keep at it or dump it.
Steve Jobs once said (most likely paraphrased):
What made Apple, Apple, isn’t what we chose to build, but what we chose to ignore.
While knowing when to say no on a macro level is important, it’s even more important to say no on a micro level.
You’re working on something, your phone goes off and you know it’s a text message. Are you going to let that interrupt your work flow, or are you going to say no and check it later?
These tiny decisions occur probably a hundred times a day. How often are you saying no?
Dikembe Mutombo has it down..
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Tip 5 – Knowing Your Strengths and Understanding Your Weaknesses
As much as we would all like to think we’re superheroes, we have to come to terms with reality.
We all have our strengths, and we definitely have our weaknesses. You probably already know what your strengths and weaknesses are, but maybe you’re not being very efficient in maximizing them or hedging them.
I’m a firm believer in working on your weaknesses, but for the purpose of being efficient and boosting your productivity, you should delegate certain tasks.
For example, I can probably make a banner ad with photoshop and it’ll take a lot of time, following tutorials, and still won’t turn out great. Or, I can delegate/outsource the task for a minimal amount of money, and be able to focus on the things that generate revenue.
What are you strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Can you use your strengths to teach a virtual assistant to replicate what you do to maximize your returns?
Can you delegate tasks that are some of your weaknesses?
Placing your focus on the areas you have strengths, and identifying what is important and valuable to you, will allow you to have much better productivity.
Sometimes people want to be cheap, and trust me, I understand completely, but being cheap to the point that you refuse to invest some of your money in order for you to be more productive with your time is a losing strategy.
Tip 6 – Stop Trying To Multitask
I don’t understand it, but about 75% of the resumes I would receive in my agency, the applicant would highlight that they are “excellent multi-taskers”.
This was always a big problem for me. How can I hire someone that I need to be result oriented, and disciplined in their work ethic if they can’t stay focused or prioritize the tasks they have?
It’s not their fault, for some reason a lot of different businesses claim they want someone that is excellent at multitasking. Making this some sort of important feature, but in reality it is a devastating habit to have when you’re wanting productivity.
National Geographic had a segment on multitasking a few years back, which they claim only 2% of the population can actually multitask without a serious decline in performance.
For most of us, multitasking or “switch tasking” will actually result in more overall time taken to complete the tasks, and a lower quality of work.
Don’t believe me? Take a test for yourself.
Tip 7 – Take Care of Your Mind and Body
I’m no stranger when it comes to working long hours, until the wee hours of the morning, and then getting up again hours later.
I understand the temptation to have a pizza night or fast food so you can focus on getting a couple projects done and “getting ahead”.
These are things I struggle with to this very day.
When I’m up until 4AM, sometimes even later, then wake up again at 7:30am my productivity for the day is shot. In fact, often times I will end the day not knowing what I’ve accomplished.
One of the most important ways to take care of your mind and body is sleep. Lately I’ve been getting better about deciding whether I should stay up to finish a few tasks, or if my mind is shutting down and I should just get some sleep.
Sleep plays a huge role. So does exercise and diet.
What I’ve been trying to do more often is first thing in the morning, work out, do some sort of exercise. I have the Insanity DVD’s and a few other programs, and when I stick to a routine, I usually feel better, more confident, and I definitely have more energy.
Working for yourself, you likely are going to have a more sedentary lifestyle during the day. Don’t make it worse by not having an exercise, food, and sleep plan.
How you take care of yourself, can directly impact your business, and how productive you are.
Not everyone works the same way, but nearly everyone can pick up at least one thing in this blog post to implement and save time each day.
Remember, even if something you implement only saves a couple minutes on a daily basis, it adds up over the course of the year. Everyone has the same 24 hours that you do. The only difference is how you choose to use those hours.