Previously, I have discussed how I use a weekly work schedule and block time for specific tasks to increase productivity. A few people wrote and asked if I had any other productivity tips for getting work done. I really appreciate the emails, I have tried a lot of methods over the years to squeeze more time out of each day.
And during the year, I find my energy changes and have to adapt even more. But, here are some tips I have used: Not only am I sharing what has worked for me, but some tips–while they have NOT worked for me–may also help you.
1. Streamline Your To-Do List to increase Productivity
You To-do list should have tasks that you either need or want to-do. So if you have a task on it that doesn’t get done, perhaps you need to eliminate it.
Sometimes we put things that we think we should be doing on our list and from week to week it never gets done. If it is too difficult for you to just delete it, then put it on a yearly to do list and tuck it away.
2. Set Daily Goals
Having a goal of what to accomplish each day helps maintain focus, avoid procrastination and stay motivated.. Each day, when you have finished working, set the goals for the following day. On you goal list, prioritize what needs to be done first, second, etc This will ensure that the most important tasks get completed.
3. Batch Similar Tasks
I am a huge fan of batching. My Instagram posts are batched for the month and I schedule them out using Tailwind. When I make products, I make multiple products at once which is more productive than doing each task separately. When I make Pinterest Pins, I make and schedule 15-20 pins at one time to multiple boards.
Even when I write blog post, I usually write in a 2 hour block and complete multiple posts at one time. It saves time when you do several tasks at the same time instead of doing them individually at separate time.
4. Break Up Large Projects
It can seem overwhelming to have a large project that takes hours or days to complete. Instead, break up large tasks into smaller steps and schedule over several days. This will allow you to focus greater energy and be more productive.
When I am making a product to submit to a bundle, I start with research. Then I create another day. I also need to create images, the landing page, sales page, descriptions. Most of the time, I will also create an upsell or bump offer. Each of these smaller tasks gets listed on the to-do list individually.
It is satisfying to check of the smaller tasks and before long, the large project is complete.
5. Use Gaps of Time
When I am driving, I am also listening to podcasts or audiobooks. When I am waiting for an appointment, I am making an outline or notes. When I am having a lunch, I catch up on reading. This doesn’t mean that every minute of the day I am working, because I relax as well. I just try not to waste 5-10 minutes unnecessarily.
6. Analyze with the Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle says that 80% of the results comes from 20% of the efforts. Another way of looking at this is that 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your customers and 80% of your profits come from 20% of your products.
I know this is true of my TPT store as well as my ETSY store. My nearly 200 product in the ETSY store do not all sell equally. Most of the sales come from a small percentage of my products. The same is true of my TPT store. Despite over 800 products, it is the same portion of products selling repeatedly that drive income.
Analyzing your to-do list by looking at where you can spend your effort to trigger the bulk of the results. In my case, right now, I am putting my effort into bundle participation, emails to subscribers and continued marketing. Are there other tasks I could be doing? Yes, but at this minute, those tasks are not as important to my results.
Which tasks are generating the 80% of your results?
7. Don’t Multitask
Whenever possible, complete on task before beginning another. There is momentum in working on a task which is disrupted if you stop to do something else. It takes longer to begin again, and less likely to be completed.
The only exception is an “emergency” and I define an emergency to be something that will cause harm or require police, fire or ambulance.
8. Hire Others More Skilled
While I believe that everyone is capable of learning new skills, if you have a task that requires a level of skill you do not currently have, consider hiring someone. I have someone who takes care of my website.
I have built websites in the pasts, taken care of all those details but at this point I would rather pay someone to take care of my backups, updates, server issues and incompatible plug-ins than do it myself. It saves me time so I can focus on the doing things that bring me pleasure.
I also hired someone to create logos, and video intros on Fiverr. I know people who also use Upwork to find people for small jobs. As with any job you might need done, be clear on your expectations and the costs involved before you begin or you might have an ugly surprise.
9. Use Software When Possible
I use a several types of software or programs to make tasks easier. I use Canva to create social media images and images for products. I use Tailwind to post Instagram or Pinterest. MissingLettr is a program that takes my blog posts-images and quotes- and posts to Social Media automatically to drive traffic to my blog.
Recently I have begun using Repurpose.io for repurposing my videos to other platforms besides YouTube. Thru that software, I can select snippets of videos to post to Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook and Twitter. I had a 15 day free trial to get used tot he software and I do like it. I notice that I have picked up a few followers on Twitter and Instagram both, and have had some comments on Facebook.
If you can find software to streamline some of your tasks, go for it. Some of these tasks are jobs that a VA could perform if I had one, and at some point that will be an option. At this moment, I use programs to help streamline my work.
What Has NOT Worked for Me
Just as there are tips that have given me more control over my time and have helped me become more productive, there are also tips that have not helped.
I have tried a lot of things over the years, and gotten a lot of suggestions from others about what worked for them. These ideas did not work for me. But like everything else in life, we are all different, have different motivations, different needs and what works for one, doesn’t work for someone else. So be open to experimenting to see what helps you. :
Get Up Earlier
Ok, I know the old adage about the Early Bird Getting the Worm. But I am not a morning period and I am not interested in worms. I get up at 5:30 AM during the week to go to work. I don’t drink coffee, so my only method of waking up and getting started is to just get moving and driving, but the brain is not active until about 2 hours later. Even then, I am not at my best until about lunchtime.
I know people swear by getting up an hour earlier. They tell me that early hour of meditating, exercising, journaling, etc. is the best hour of the day. I am happy for them, but it is not for me. And quite honestly, meditating for an hour at 5:00 am would just help me doze off again.
Eliminate All Distractions
Yes, when my students are off task, I gently direct them back. I remind them not to get distracted. But, I have the TV playing when I work, I check my email once an hour, I read Facebook messages, etc. I think because I live alone, I like to have noise in the background. If it is too quiet, it is disconcerting. Especially if I am listening to Dateline or Homicide Hunters.
I have tried this several times and it does not work for me. Many people still do not understand online entrepreneurs and all the small tasks that are required to be successful. I do know people that have accountability partners and gain a lot of success from that relationship. Just not me.
I have tried mastermind groups, group coaching and even had a few 1- on – 1 calls. It was not productive for me at the time. While I did learn a lot, at the time, it was not a wholly positive experience. In the future, I may try again.
I think because I have lived alone so long I am just used to my own way of doing things. And because I am surrounded by people for 8 hours all day talking, I just try to avoid talking to others when I am at home. When I retire, it will be a different story but I’m not there yet.
Declutter the Workspace
The popular opinion seem to say that if your workspace is clutter-free, and organized you will accomplish more. It could be true, but I have spent a lot of time reorganizing both physical and digital clutter, trying to streamline my work area only to then spend a great deal more time trying to find everything. So now, I just leave things as they are. I guess I have learned to zone out and not focus on the clutter.
Well, I do like this idea, but I don’t need any rewards to complete work. I naturally give myself breaks and treats. And if I want to go to the spa for a massage or get my nails done, I just do it. It is not an effective tool to get more done–for me.
I use timers in my classroom, but they are to help students stay on task and make the best use of their time. In general, timers to stay on task are not useful for me. Using timers to tell me when to stop work is not necessary either–I either stop when I am done or stop when I am tired.
Other people find great success in using timers to limit distractions and keep a steady pace on completing jobs. I have even heard people say that they work at a greater pace with a timer. I do not.
I hope you have found at least one tip that can increase your productivity. Sometimes we are more productive that we give ourselves credit for being, we need to be realistic about our time and our other priorities.
If you have any tips that you use that help you get more done, I would love to hear them. I am always looking for more ways to get stuff done. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org