There is nothing quite like becoming an Entrepreneur to really test your self-control and productivity. Especially in the early days of business and if you work from home. (Or, if you’re juggling running the business around your family!)
All of a sudden you’re technically the BOSS of your own time.
But you’re not necessarily a pro at managing it like a BOSS yet.
Things that (can) get in my way of managing my own business time productively are:
- Sick kids (or sick husband, sick parents, being sick myself, sick animals – basically sick everything and everyone!!!)
- Phone calls/text messages
- Social media
- Last minute networking
- Other peoples ‘urgent’ problems
- Late night Netflix binging leaving me tired the next day (wait did I just admit that out loud…)
- Unannounced visitors
And that’s just one day worth of distractions…
THEN there’s the challenge of overcoming people’s mindsets of thinking that because I work from home, it’s more flexible, so assuming I can just juggle things around because they need something during the day.
Working from home IS more flexible. BUT, the work has to happen sometime or all of a sudden the $$$ wane. And the money is what keep us in the lifestyle we are accustomed to, so it is important to keep being productive at earning it yo.
Here are 6 of my top tips for supercharging your productivity and keeping your work-life balance sane:
1. Draw the line and establish a routine
What I mean by draw the line, is to draw a clear line between work and play (or rather the rest of your life – aka the unpaid part). Yes, many of us are Entrepreneurs because we want freedom and flexibility, but decide for yourself what flies for you and doesn’t in terms of work/life routine and stick to it. We all work most productively when we have a routine. Then it happens organically and you don’t have to think about it.
For me, that mostly looks like regular office hours with a couple of weeknights and occasional Saturday morning. I start work at 9 am every single day. That’s just how it is. I take lunch at around the same time every day, and I finish at the same times (although the finish times vary depending on the day of the week). My family also (mostly) knows and respects that those are my hours, which makes it easier too.
Part of this is also making sure that I dress the part. Even though I work from home, I usually dress as I would if I was going to an office.
2. Know your flow and don’t fight it
What the heck is your ‘flow’ you might ask… Your flow is your path of least resistance within your business. The path where you’re at your happiest and most productive. You’ll generally be ‘in flow’ when you’re doing the parts of your business that you love the most, and potentially ‘out of flow’ when you are trying to do tasks which you’re not naturally good at or interested in.
Of course, there’s always parts of our business that we don’t want to do, and have to do. But, in my opinion, they should make up the minority and always be the first you delegate when you can.
You’ll probably have a reasonable idea already or what floats your boat and what doesn’t. But, if you’re feeling out of flow (or like everything is too hard), then I recommend taking The Wealth Dynamics Profile Test. It’s the best test I know for Entrepreneurs to help you work out what your genius superpower is and what tasks in the business you should totally avoid doing (and delegate).
It helped me immensely, and I’ve since seen it help so many others.
I have a limited number of tests at a special price here. Check them out. I also offer 60-minute debrief sessions once you’ve done your report, to help you work out what to do with the information in a practical sense. Contact me here about booking one of those.
3. Group your tasks by energy
Ok so that felt woo to write, but stick with me… Each task during your day has an energy, right?
When we need to do anything detailed or financial related, we need to have our detailed/concentration brain on.
If we need to do anything that involved talking to people, we need to have our friendly, extroverted brain on.
When we are coming up with content or social media we need to have our creative marketing brains on.
Switching between all those energies takes *energy and depletes your energy tank. So, grouping your tasks by like to minimise the number of times you switch between all the different energies just makes sense from a productivity standpoint. Then you’ll have more stamina to get through your day.
The way I like to do this is to have a theme for the day:
Monday is my details day. I try to save up all my details tasks for a Monday
Tuesday is my creative day. That day I can write, or create content, etc.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are my people days. I try to take all of my meetings and do all of my networking/customer services these days.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t do any of the rest of the tasks on the other days, it just simply means that that is the overriding theme for the day. And, within the days, I’ll group my like activities together.
Once you know you’re super power from The Wealth Dynamics Test and understand the energies from all of the different Genius Profiles, this becomes a lot easier to understand and become second nature.
4. Use a system to keep track of your to-do list
If you are spending all of your energy trying to remember to do stuff, you are not working at your most productive. One of the first systems that I always ensure my clients have, is a way to manage their tasks. For most that’s the free version of Trello. It’s a great place to dump all your thoughts and sort them out visually. You can set due dates so that it reminds you and you don’t have to store it all in your head. You can make yourself checklists. It’s so easy to use, and you can get it for your phone.
You can also share it between your team and use it to communicate with each other (which will free up your inbox no end).
Other options are Asana or potentially your CRM of choice
5. Create workflows
You may know them as standard operating procedures (SOP) or operations manuals, but I like to use the term ‘workflows’. The other terms make me think of a document that nobody uses because it doesn’t get updated often enough. But, the philosophy is good – doing things consistently the same each time, and having a workflow to follow, makes things go so much more smoothly.
There are so many benefits to creating workflows:
Doing things consistently the same each time…
- Uses less thinking energy
- Means you (or your team) won’t forget how to do something if there’s a long gap between doing it
- Makes it easier to teach someone how to follow your system
- Means the entire team are taught to do something the same way (a consistent quality)
- Provides a consistent experience for your clients
The way I generally encourage people to create workflows is by keeping a Business Blueprint board on Trello which is shared between the team.
Each task in the business would be put on a card and have a checklist of how to do that task.
For example; right now I am writing a blog post, so I’ll be following my blog post workflow. That provides me a checklist of tasks that need to be done for each blog post – for example, draft, get proofread, create images, upload to blog, check links, post on all my social media, etc. etc.
I can also video myself doing processes and put the link to the how-to video on the card.
This system is easy to share, easy to follow, and easy to update when things evolve.
6. Track where the heck your time is going
Where are your time-sucks? Or biggest distractions? Do you need to upgrade your systems, or do you need to simply stop fluffing about and get some accountability? (Spoiler alert: it could actually be both)
There are two ways I recommend to work this out:
The first is of course to take The BOSS Test. Within 30 minutes you’ll then know which systems need a reboot in your business.
The second is to start tracking your time and seeing where it all goes.
For this, I use Harvest which I use to power my business. (Use the coupon THEHELPFULBRAND to get 50% off your first month).
Another option is Toggl.
It can be challenging at first to get into the habit of tracking your time, but it will show you where you need to make changes in how you use your time.
What are your favourite tools? Let me know in the comments…
About the author:
Kat Soper is the Founder and Head Trainer of The Helpful Academy Online Business School.
Kat is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses succeed and achieve their business goals so that they can achieve the lifestyle they desire (and deserve).