Are you drowning in a sea of papers on your desk? Unable to meet deadlines? Wishing you had the secret to better productivity? Well not to worry, because I’m going to give you 10 precise ways to step up your game, get smart, and get more done.
1. Use One Tool for Each Function
If you’ve been hassling with more than one digital calendar, battling between CRM systems, and bumping along with various other software programs, let me simplify your life: get rid of all but the one solution that works best in each category. If you use Google Calendar on your phone and have been inputting appointments separately into your iPhone’s calendar, you’re wasting valuable time. And there’s an app for Google Calendar, so you have no excuse!
2. Prioritize Tomorrow Today
Before you pat yourself on the back for making a dent in today’s work at quitting time, take a moment to look at tomorrow. What are the three most important priorities for tomorrow? Identifying them now will put you in the right frame of mind to prepare for it. If, for example, you have an appointment in the morning, you can plan to dress accordingly and map out your travel plans ahead of time.
3. Limit Meetings and Have an Agenda
I don’t know why we’ve become a meeting-hungry culture. Meetings suck. And they suck time, too. So if you have to meet with your staff or a client, set a time frame of 30 minutes. And send an agenda beforehand. Anything outside of that scope will need to be addressed at another time, otherwise that short meeting turns into an all-day meeting, and nobody benefits from that.
4. Take the Time to Map Out Processes
I know, I know: this totally sucks. Slowing down to write out how to do something is worse than waiting on hold with the IRS hotline. But it will save you a ton of time down the road if you need to do that process again and forgot how, or if you hand the task over to someone else.
5. Save Your Passwords
Passwords are stupid but essential. I can never remember which version of the same password I use on most sites (sad but true) I need to input, and honestly, I could use that brain space for something else. I like to use LastPass to save not only my passwords but also my credit card details so I don’t have to hunt for a card to make a purchase.
6. Build Your Productivity Around Your Day
Most of us can identify the hours when it’s easier to get more done because emails aren’t coming in quite so frequently, the phone isn’t constantly ringing, and employees aren’t popping in to say hi. Find this time and use it for tasks that require more mental energy, like business strategy or writing a business proposal. Then when it’s harder to focus, do easier work like fulfilling orders or responding to emails.
7. Write Down Your Ideas
Even if it doesn’t seem to make you less productive, having ideas rattling around in your brain and trying desperately to remember them saps your brain energy. Write those suckers down! If you’re out and about, send yourself an email or record them in Google Keep. I often have ideas for blog topics that I’m not ready to write, so I put them into a spreadsheet. Later when I’m brain dead and need an idea, there is one waiting for me!
8. Invest Time in Productivity Apps
Again, this might slow you down initially, but finding tools to become more productive is priceless. You can use apps to track the time you spend on client projects (Freshbooks), store and share files in the cloud (DropBox), and manage your business travel (TripIt). It may take you a while to adjust to using these new cool tools, but believe me, you’ll be glad you invested the time when they start saving you some.
9. Only Subscribe to Blogs/Newsletter You Can Benefit From
If you’re like most people, you get a lot of newsletters or blog feeds that you just delete when they come in your inbox. You just don’t have time to read them! I encourage you to unsubscribe from any that aren’t bringing you benefit right now. Then be picky about signing up for future emails. What value will it give you? AppSumo has a really useful email newsletter that I’m likely to open, as it gives me tips for increasing my email subscribers. Now that’s valuable.
10. Don’t Power Through It
Have you ever kept plugging away at something you were working on even though your brain had gone fuzzy and you had trouble concentrating? Yep. I know it seems like “just a little longer and I’m done!” but it will likely take you longer if you’ve lost the ability to focus. Instead, get up, stretch, walk around. That can be enough to shake of the fug and get you refocused on what you’re doing.