The burnout is real. We can come up with a lot of great ideas for being more productive, but it won’t be helpful if you get burnout and quit. Here are some helpful hints to help you manage your time and hopefully decrease your chances of burnout.
Compact Your Daily To-Do List
Created a to-do list is an important part of time management, but often we create too large of a list with unreasonable expectations for the day.
Create your list with the top 3-5 most important things to accomplish that day. That goes on the top of the list. Next, you list out a few items that can be done that day but are not as important or urgent.
Create your to-do list for the next day right before you leave for the evening. When you get to the office in the morning, you will be ready to start!
Cal Newport describes Deep Work as “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task”. If you have an important task or project at work that requires a lot of brain power, set aside a few hours on your calendar that you intend to not be bothered unless it is a real emergency.
During this time, shut down your email applications and put your phone on do not disturb. In fact, put your phone in a safe place as far away from your reach as possible. Minimize all possible interruptions during this time.
Set up intervals during your day to check email outside of this period where you will solely focus on one task.
Find Your Peak Work Period
This may be different for every person. For some, this may be the first thing in the morning once you get to the office. This is the time of day where you are physically and mentally more focused.
Trying to get an important report done right before bedtime may not be optimal because you are tired and distracted by things going on at home.
Create a routine around this time period where you perform the day’s most important tasks during that time period. Creating routines will train your body to be ready for being productive. Leave the tasks that do not require the same amount of focus for later in the day or during your less optimal period.
Focus on the Result, Not the Task
The key here is to commit to finishing the work. Focusing on just performing a task may result in having to perform the task over again, wasting more time.
Start tracking the about of time that you are spending on tasks.
Chances are we are not estimating the amount of time it should take to complete it. Focus on what it is that you want to complete.
By focuses on the end goal, we can make sure that the things we are doing are meaningful and make the best use of our time.
Although setting deadlines may sound stressful, they are helpful in setting healthy boundaries. We tend to be more productive and focused when there is a time limit. When there is an on-going project, try to make some short-term deadlines to work towards.
Break large goals into smaller projects. For instance, if you want to write a book, set a smaller goal to write the introduction paragraph this weekend, and next weekend write 10 pages for Chapter 1. It is rewarding when you feel you have completed a goal on time!
Use Productivity Tools
Use this helpful list of tools that are designed to help you focus on what is important to accomplish for the day.
- Hootsuite: cut down your social media time by scheduling your social media posting.
- Evernote: Take your notes with you wherever you go. It is cloud based so you can access your notes from your phone, home, or office. If you can’t jot down your idea, try using the voice memo on your phone to remember to jot your ideas down later.
- Dropbox: Dropbox or any other cloud-based storage like OneDrive or iCloud will also help keep your most important documents close by for review and sharing at any time.
- Asana: This is a great project management tool for individuals and businesses. You can plan you plan and organize your work or choose a plan that will help you collaborate with a team.
- Rescue Time: This app helps track time spent on different applications to give you a sense of how you are spending your time. The paid version will even help to block distracting websites while you are working.
Productivity is more of a Journey than a Destination
As an entrepreneur, you may feel that if you can get that speaking engagement, hit your sales projections, or open your brick and mortar shop that this event will signal your success. However, it is the commitment to the process that makes you successful.
It’s getting up every day and doing something toward your goal. If you want to become great at anything, you must practice it every day. You must love not just the outcomes, but the process in creating the outcomes.
Have some Fun!
Don’t forget to reward yourself. In project management, we have celebrations after completing big projects. Schedule that vacation or put that concert on your calendar.
Having something to look forward to is a great motivator for getting your goals accomplished.