As an independent professional, what is the one thought that comes up at the end of every work day? A sense of achievement that you ticked off every single task on your to-do list? Or wishful thinking for more hours so you can complete what’s pending? Productivity has become a top priority for solopreneurs, especially since remote working has become a norm. It’s a performance metric that is getting more attention than ever before, and that’s why we’d like to discuss the ways you can improve your productivity habits.
1. Hold yourself accountable to your to-do list
Based on a study conducted by RAIN Group Center for Sales Research from a sample of 2300 business professionals; 76% agreed that they stuck to what they said they would accomplish during the work day. Being accountable to your to-do list is ranked the #1 frequent behaviour of extremely productive people. So make sure to build out an achievable to-do list, so you can spend the end of each day celebrating small wins vs worrying about what’s pending and draining your mental energy.
2. Minimise distractions
The average attention span of humans in 2000 was 13 seconds. In 2013, it was just 8 seconds. That’s a second less than the attention span of a goldfish. Clearly, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted. More-so when you’re wearing multiple hats as an independent professional. Checking your phone every five minutes for texts, e-mails, and social media notifications are just a few of the reasons that can stop you from being truly productive. So how can you avoid these time-consuming distractions throughout the day?
A. Check your emails and texts in three pre-scheduled time slots in a day and inform everyone you work with of the same, so you can manage expectations and can focus on deep work in the hours in between. Make sure to keep your phone in either silent mode or offline when in the flow zone so that Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat reminders don’t keep popping up!
B. Use a Chrome Extension called OneTab to group alllllll your open tabs into one single tab. Digital declutter will declutter the mind.
3. Move over Task Batching. Hello Day Theming.
Ever wondered how Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, gets so much done in a day? How does Dorsey run two companies when most of us struggle to keep up with one job? What’s his secret to getting it all done? He assigns themes to each day of the work week!
“The way I found that works for me is – I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company. Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing, communications, and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company, the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week,” he shares.
A solopreneur often has to pay attention to marketing, sales, product development, and customer support, all at the same time. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, are there? Do you spend too much time in “reactive mode”, responding to emails and messages? Battle constant interruptions?
Instead of setting aside time blocks for each area of responsibility, try day theming; dedicate a full day each week to each responsibility.
For example: “Every Monday, I will focus on business development. Every Tuesday, I will focus on content writing and promotion. Every Wednesday, I will focus on scheduling content, and a weekly check-in with my mentor,” and so on.
Pro Tip: You could use a tool called Serene to organise your workflow and keep you focused on the task for the day. The tool encourages you to set a single goal for each working day, which constantly reinforces the idea of focusing on individual tasks.
4. Learn to say no.
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” — Warren Buffett
You know it as well as we do, but this one’s a toughie (even for us!) Taking on too much always ends up compromising the quality of the work you’ll be able to deliver – not only for the client in question, but for other clients as well. By learning to say “no” and maximising productivity in other areas with the time you’ve freed up for yourself, you’re naturally able to do more for your customers than if you blindly kept taking on everything!
5. Switch off after work
According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report, switching off after work is the hardest part about working from home. Automation should help you with this. Schedule notifications so you don’t see them outside of working hours. Make it clear to your clients when you’re available and use apps like Daywise to block notifications until 8am, Monday-Friday. When you switch off, you rejuvenate yourself and this is crucial to maintain your productivity for the long term. Embrace ‘me time’ so you can be your best for the days ahead.
Becoming productive is mostly about your mindset. You have to be willing to change the way you think about organising and completing tasks, but you also need to take a moment to re-examine your relationship with work. Hopefully, these hacks will help make 2022 your most productive year yet!