How to gain extra time every day
I’m sure there are many frazzled business owners who would love to be able to fit more in to every day. An extra hour or two here and there would mean you’d finally get that fascinating article finished, or you’d at last be able to put a really satisfying cross through some lurking items on your to-do list.
However, I came to realise that it’s not extra time that I needed, it was actually making better use of the time I had. I used to be pretty good at procrastinating when I set my mind to it, but in a bid to get more done here I’ve come up with 5 super easy and practical tips to maximise your day-to-day productivity.
Embrace your rhythm
I came to realise that I’m at my most productive and creative first thing in the morning. I then have a bit of a lull by late morning and during early afternoon, and then by 3pm all systems are go again. So instead of forcing myself to plod away when my brain is giving me nothing to work with, I decided to maximise my peak performance hours:
8-10am: Creative writing, planning for clients
11am-1pm: Social media work, admin tasks
3-5pm: Marketing, client work
Now these hours are of course not set in stone, and I obviously take breaks during those time slots. I go with the flow if something is working and I improvise if an urgent client-related issue comes up. But I don’t feel guilty about taking breaks or going for a walk when I know these are often the times when I have my most creative ideas.
Turn off the volume
Now I was as guilty as anyone for having the volume turned up on my laptop and all email notifications switched on. And even though I’m sure people were very impressed by my unnecessarily quick email response time it was actually extremely counter productive. Constant pausing and attempts at multi-tasking result in half-finished sentences and lost trains of thought. Much kinder to your brain and your schedule to switch off distractions and focus solely on one task at a time.
Coping with distractions has become a business in itself, with a multitude of tools available to keep you on track and tell you how you spend your time. These apps are two such examples:
There’s plenty of literature on the subject of multi-tasking if you’re interested in reading more:
Set an auto-response
To lessen how frequently you check your emails, try out an auto-response email (aka an out of office). The sender will immediately receive an automatic reply to their email with a standard message so they can manage their own expectations in terms of your response time. You can then maximise your productivity by replying to emails in bulk at a time that is most sensible for you.
The auto-response can be short and sweet:
‘Thank you for your enquiry. I will get back to you within 24 hours.’
Ever looked at your calendar and felt daunted by the sheer amount of stuff that’s packed in there? Colour coding by category is an easy way for your brain to process the number of things you need to do. A traffic light system is easy to process, or you can get creative and turn your calendar into something that would rival Candy Crush:
Orange: social media
Red: initial client calls
Purple: personal errands
Green: client 1 work
Blue: client 2 work