10 Ways to Stop The Procrastination Train In Its Tracks
As creatives we can be easily distracted and as entrepreneurs we wear many different hats, juggling everything from accounting, marketing, social media and answering emails to meeting client expectations, developing product and keeping up with life in general. For creative entrepreneurs, it’s a double whammy. We are pulled in so many different directions throughout our day and productivity can be a challenge. Try to implement these 10 simple steps to creative a more productive environment.
1. Calendar Block. Calendar blocking is simply using your calendar to literally carve or block out time dedicated to specific tasks. This allows for you to set realistic expectations with what you can actually accomplish during a day. When you are realistic with yourself about the amount of time you have per day, you don’t over-commit, reach burn out or feel guilt for not meeting a deadline. It’s okay to allow yourself to move your blocked time around. Don’t forget to leave room for between tasks.
2. Have a Dedicated Workspace. Sitting at the kitchen table can lead to doing the laundry or unloading the dishwasher. Try to create a space in your home or rent a workspace that is dedicated to your business. It’s ever better if it has a door. Put a sign on the door and keep it closed so when you are “at work” you are focused and when you are ready to end your day you are able to focus family and not work.
Tweet it: "The true price of anything you do is the amount of time you exchange for it." - Thoreau @StationeryEDU #statacad
3. Limit Social Media. Spending time mindlessly wandering through Facebook or Instagram can make you feel like you are accomplishing something when you actually aren’t. If you are having trouble keeping yourself from social media, download this app for Google Chrome: Stay Focused. It limits your time spent on social media to the number of hours you determine. If you don’t use Chrome, there are plenty of other options to choose from to keep the social media urge at bay.
4. Stop Multitasking. Switching between tasks is actually less productive. When you find yourself loosing focus, call yourself out and keep yourself tuned in to the task at hand. You’ll end up completing your tasks more quickly and more efficiently.
5. Commit to 3 Tasks a Day. Having an endless to-do list never allows you to feel like you accomplished something. "They" say you can really only achieve three tasks in a day. Celebrate checking these three items off the list and move other items throughout the week.
Tweet it: "Therefore, to maximize your productivity, deliberately focus on precisely one thing at a time." -Oran Kangas @StationeryEDU #statacad
6. Say “No”. This can be one of the hardest things to do, especially if you are just getting started. Focus on your ideal client. If someone comes to you with a project that isn’t exactly in your wheelhouse, refer them to a friend. If the project isn’t a good fit, you’ll end up spending too much time trying to meet the client’s expectations and not be profitable. Saying “no” is so liberating! Plus, you’re sending someone business who is perfect for the project. It’s a win-win for you, the potential client and your friend.
7. Outsource. As small business owners, we tend to think we need to do everything ourselves. This week, try to write down every task you do. At the end of the week, circle the tasks you absolutely hate completing. Don’t like reconciling your accounts? Hire a bookkeeper to do it for you. Don’t like updating your Etsy listings? Find a college student to work part time or hourly to simply add new listings for you. Are you printing in house and sick of cutting down, assembling or packaging your product? Get help. You’ll find it’s worth it so you can spend more time doing what you love!
8. Exercise, Eat Well and Sleep. No need to explain here. You think more clearly when you exercise, eat right and get a good nights rest.
Tweet it: "There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the way out is through." -David Allen @StationeryEDU #statacad
9. Hire an Assistant. Even if you feel like you can’t afford it. If you hire someone to do the tasks you don’t love, it frees up your time to focus on what’s important in your business and you’ll be more productive than ever. Hire someone you trust and pay them so much it hurts. We promise, you’ll be more productive and more profitable.
10. Email Management. Did you know that when you are interrupted it takes 11 minutes to refocus on the task you were trying to complete? Email is often the distraction. Set scheduled times that you answer your emails during the day. Try to start your day with out opening your email to complete the tasks you already have on your to-do list. Start answering emails later in the morning around 10A.M. and then again at the end of the day. Set expectations on when you answer emails with your clients too. If you are able to answer the email immediately, say something like, “Wow, great timing! You caught me answering my email”, and then respond to the request. Keep your email closed or offline when you aren’t in those dedicated times.
BONUS: Inbox Zero. Another email management tool! Inbox Zero was created by a man named Merlin Mann, also creator of 43Folders.com, and is a really popular way to manage your emails. It is also a wonderful practice. An option that works great for those of us in the stationery industry who work on a project basis is to create the following three folders in your email: A1 Action Required, A2 Read, A3 Projects. Using A1, A2, and A3 will keep these at the top of your folders. When an email comes in and you can answer it within 2 minutes, answer it. If not, move it to the Action Required folder. If you need to read it or hold it, move it to the A2 Read folder. If it’s a project, move it to a folder nested under your A3 Projects folder named for the project. The idea is to get your inbox to zero at the end of the day. If you can delete the email, delete it. This process will change the way you look at email as a task list and keep you totally sane.
Remember that practice and self-discipline is key. Try to implement just one of these items a week so you can meet your goal of being more productive. Do you know someone who is struggling with reaching productivity? Share this with them!
Do you have any ways to maximize productivity in your business? Stationery Academy is all about sharing our knowledge and bettering the industry. We’d love you to share in the comments below!
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