I’m asked ALL the time: “How in the world do you do everything?” And on some days, I wonder how I’m going to get it all done, too. It’s especially hard in a creative field where you have to switch from thinking with the right side of your brain as a designer to the more business-oriented side as a company owner.
That really isn’t easy. In fact, scientific studies have proven that you need some time to make that switch to be your most effective and efficient, so switching tasks over and over isn’t actually a great way for you to work. I have a few tricks that have really helped me boost my productivity so much in the last year or two! And they include an idea to keep my brain on the right track, no matter which “side” I’m using. Try these out for yourself and see how much more you can get done in a day!
1. Keep TWO to-do lists. Yes, I hear you. It’s hard enough to keep up with one, right? But hear me out. I have one long list with everything on it that I need to get done, categorized by project. That helps me avoid dropping the ball on anything that I need to do. But my second list is just for things that have to be done TODAY – only 3-4 things. Because it can be really intimidating to have to look at a 15-page to-do list every single day – and really discouraging, too. You feel like you never get anything done that way. Being able to cross things off a list, and actually finish a list each day, keeps me feeling productive and motivated!
2. Block your time. This was THE game changer for me. Instead of just taking on whatever hits my desk next, or allowing anyone and everyone to bring me yet another task or issue whenever they want, I block my time each day. This allows me to set aside blocks of hours that are exclusively and ONLY for design, for example. Or I have several hours blocked out just to work on my client outreach or financials. The understanding in my office – and the promise I keep to myself – is that I won’t take on anything else during that block other than what I’ve set it aside to accomplish. It really keeps me focused and boosts my productivity into the stratosphere! Try this yourself – I promise you it will make you more productive.
3. Turn off your phone. You read that right – turn it off. If you’re over 30, I know you remember a time when you couldn’t be reached 24/7. And we all lived through that, right? So you can live without your phone for an hour or two. Because your phone isn’t just a phone anymore – it’s email, Facebook, Instagram, news, texts, weather, shopping, photos, cute dog videos, etc., etc., etc. It is a MAJOR distraction and you need to shut it down. The world will not end because you check out and focus on a project for two hours. Trust me.
4. Stick to your systems and processes. Remember those processes you defined for your business? The ones that you were going to follow to the letter? Well cutting corners and dropping steps are what get you into productivity trouble. The reason is because you usually end up having to take 15 more steps to fix problems you created when you didn’t follow your process. If you don’t have processes and systems – and these can be for client experience, for client outreach, for project management – then create them now! They really do act as a reminder of all the things that need to get done for a smooth and efficient project.
5. Take a break. That one probably surprised you! But if you read this blog, you know how important I think it is that you are operating at your very best. The only time that I am my absolute most productive self is when I’m healthy, well rested, and rarin’ to go! If you’re tired and stressed, you are never operating at peak productivity.
Use these 5 tips to squeeze every single productive moment out of your busy day! It takes discipline and commitment, but it also helps you get it all done. Good luck!