Are you tired of feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that you need to?
Do you wish you had a magic fairy who could wave her wand and give you three extra hours a day?
As an entrepreneur, you get to determine how you spend your time. Which is great, and if you’re like me, it’s probably one of the main reasons why you decided to go into business for yourself – for the freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment that comes with working for yourself. But on the down side, if you don’t know how to use your time efficiently, you can very easily end up spending lots of time doing stuff, but not getting much done.
Particularly if you’re a mother who’s also running a business, you’ll know that every minute in the day counts and it’s up to you to squeeze every drop of productivity out of the hours you have.
There are limitless articles out there about productivity and time management hacks. The following techniques are the ones that have allowed me to be an engaged mother at the same time as growing my business. It’s still a huge challenge and my life is messy and imperfect, but with the help of these strategies I’ve managed to achieve great things in my business in recent years.
I hope they help you too.
My Golden Rules of Productivity.
I’ll be sharing the details of the Golden Rules in the video and article below.
Productivity Strategy #1 – Stop Going with the Flow and Start Planning
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”. – Benjamin Franklin
If you’re someone who likes to ‘go with the flow’ and deal with whatever arises each day, you’re not doing yourself any favours. You need to change this if you’re serious about succeeding in business. Going with the flow means you’re perpetually in a state of reaction, which is highly ineffective.
Fall in love with planning, and you will succeed. One of our coaching clients tripled her income within a year and she contributes her success to her decision to make planning a central part of her business. Her results speak for themselves.
Here are 3 planning strategies that have helped me transform the way I do business and skyrocket my business results.
1.1. Take the Time Every Quarter to Set 90-day Goals
While it’s essential to have five year and 12-month goals (discover how to develop yours here), ninety days has been proven to be the most effective length of time for getting stuff done. The reason being that 90 days is enough time to get something substantial done, while also being close enough in time that it feels urgent. It’s the ‘sweet spot’ of goal setting.
Schedule a morning or afternoon in your diary every 3 months to develop, revisit and redefine your 90-day business goals. This approach has been one of the game-changers for me. It allows you to stay adaptable while being highly focused and effective.
1.2. Weekly Planning
Block one hour in your diary every Monday morning or Friday afternoon to plan what you will work on in the coming week. Refer back to your 90-day goals, and look at the commitments you have in the diary for the week. Can you delay or cancel any appointments in order to work on your goals? Eliminate non-essential things from your diary and schedule time for things on the critical path to progress.
1.3. Time blocking
Once you have your goals defined, you need to set aside the time to work on them.
Use time blocking to block out chunks of time in your diary to get the work done. If you must move a block of time (and you inevitably will), don’t delete it but instead move it to another day – don’t delete them! Time blocking is how you fiercely prioritise and protect your business goals.
Productivity Strategy #2 – Stop Multi-Tasking and Start Batching
It’s well-known that multi-tasking is highly ineffective and causes stress. Multi-tasking generally results from being reactionary (i.e. sitting down at your desk and just responding to everything that comes up), as opposed to being proactive, which means taking the time to plan and focus your time on the tasks that matter most.
You’ll significantly increase your productivity through ‘batching’ your time, which means allocating chunks of time to similar tasks or assignments. If you’re working on a batch of work, turn off all distractions (email and social media notifications, the phone) and focus on the task at hand until it’s done or the allocated time is up.
Here are some examples of how you can batch your time as a business owner:
- Spend four 3-4 hours writing multiple blog articles and schedule them to go out once every two weeks, so that you only have to write blogs once every few months.
- Spend 2-3 hours per week creating and scheduling your social media posts so you only have to focus on social media once per week.
- Spend one whole day recording multiple videos that can be scheduled to go out once every 2 weeks, meaning you only have to prepare videos once every 3 months.
- If you’re a coach, allocate three days a week to coaching and block out the remaining two days to work on your business with focus.
Productivity Strategy #3 – Get on Top and Stay on Top of Your Email Inbox
Email is the biggest distraction and cause of multi-tasking!
Here are three recommendations with regards to controlling your email.
3.1. Turn off your email notifications!
They’re the biggest cause of time loss because you’re constantly shifting your focus. Allocate time each day to read and respond to your email,and outside of that time, don’t check it.
3.2. Reduce the amount of mail you receive.
Become ruthless with the emails you allow into your inbox. If you have too many subscriptions, use the Unroll.me app to give you an overview of all your subscriptions, and then unsubscribe from any sources that are not essential. When I first used this app I was in email overwhelm because I had more than 100 subscriptions! I can’t tell you how good it is to finally get out of email overwhelm and on top of your inbox.
3.3. Use the 321-Zero Rule for Email.
This is a great way to control your email. Check your email three times a day, and get your inbox to zero within 21 minutes (set a timer!). You’ll be surprised how quickly you can get on top of your email when you get ruthless and use these three options to handle them:
- Action it.
- Save and action it later.
- Delete it.
Productivity Strategy #4 – Stop Revisiting Small Tasks. If it Takes Less than Five Minutes, Do it Now!
Another way you significantly decrease your productivity is by revisiting small tasks. When you’re in the middle of your allocated time for email, take action on the items that require less than five minutes of your time to complete. If it’s going to take longer than minutes, flag it as important and put on your list to action at a later date.
It takes time to revisit small tasks, so try to reduce the amount of time you spend revisiting things.
Productivity Strategy #5 – Aim for Progress over Perfection.
Perfectionism is a huge cause of ineffectiveness. If you keep waiting to get something perfect before it goes out, you’ll never get anywhere. If you’re someone who gets stuck in trying to get something ‘perfect’ before you send it out, pin up this statement somewhere where you can see it regularly. And stick to the 80-20 rule. Eighty percent perfect is good enough.
Productivity Strategy #6 – Get Organised with a Project Management App.
You need to find a system that works for you to keep you organised. I’ve tried so many different applications over the years to help me capture and prioritise important tasks, but I never really implemented them seriously until I found Trello. I can’t tell you how much this free software has transformed the way I do business. It’s simple, user friendly and super convenient with its phone and desktop versions. Without this tool I simply wouldn’t be able to achieve my business goals!
I hope these strategies will give you some insight into how you can better use the time you have to achieve more. If you have any comments or new insights, please reach out by leaving a comment below. I love hearing from you!
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In service to your success,
Kate De Jong