Are you feeling frustrated or experiencing a lack of motivation since starting your online business? You are not alone. It’s easy to feel like work is never done, and that it will always be this way.
However, there are many ways in which you can improve the situation for yourself and maintain productivity levels without burning out too quickly! Check out these tips so you can get back on track:
1. Your Number One Priority – Setting Priorities
If there is no clear vision or purpose for the day, then people will end up doing whatever grabs their attention at the time. This leads to time wasting activities like browsing social media or watching cute cat videos on YouTube, instead of focusing on work that should have been done hours ago.
But when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks on your to-do list, it’s not always easy to prioritize what needs doing first. The best way we’ve found is a method that gives preference for urgent and important items while giving less priority (though still some) for those which are both low in urgency but high in importance.
Each day, make a list of 3-5 tasks in this order:
- Most urgent
- Important, but not urgent
Start with the most urgent things first, and work your way down the list. You’ll feel a sense of relief after you check off the most pressing items on your list. You may not be finished yet, but at least you have a few less things to worry about.
A List of Less Important Tasks
You can also make a separate list of things that need to be done that are neither urgent or important, but need to be done none-the-less. Keep it handy and add to it as you think of things. As you are able to check off more and more of the urgent and important items each day, you will be able to work your way down to these less important tasks.
A List for Occasional Tasks
You may also want to create another list of important tasks for this week/month/quarter. Check this list weekly, so you don’t forget them and have them end up on the urgent list.
2. Time’s Up! Next!
There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing that you only accomplished half of what was on your to-do list for the day. But does anything ever go exactly as planned? Of course not.
For example, you might have decided to allow one hour for project A, and two hours for project B. When it turns out that project A is going to take much longer, it throws off your whole schedule for the day.
Setting a time limit on your work can be really beneficial. If you scheduled an hour for project A, then spend a maximum of one hour on project A. If you don’t finish, you can pick it back up again tomorrow.
You may get so involved in the project that time gets away from you. Set a timer to limit yourself.
3. Distract Me No More
It’s often hard not to get distracted during your day. We let so many little things take our attention away from the tasks at hand. We might keep checking our email because we are waiting for a response from a client. But other emails grab our attention and before you know it, you’ve spent 20 minutes watching a video ad for vitamins that will give you more energy, or checking out the latest sale from your favorite online store.
Besides all the online distractions, there may be phone calls and visits from family and friends, or kids and pets that want your attention. Sometimes we find ourselves spinning our wheels, going back and forth between distractions, without any progress being made at all.
So how can you avoid all these distractions?
Start by turning off your phone, or putting it on silent. Let everyone around know that you are not to be distracted.
If you work from home, and the kids are a big distraction, you may need to set a time limit. “Do not disturb or distract me for one hour! And after that, we can talk.”
Make an attention-grabbing sign with something like, “I am not to be distracted!” and hang it on the doorknob, or the back of your chair. This way people near you will know that they need to leave you to your work.
Create a folder on your computer or in your browser and call it “later”. If you really want to watch that video, read that article, or check out that sale, put it in your later folder, and go back to it at lunch time, at the end of the day, or when your work is finished.
Of course, you’ll need to allow for any urgent interruptions.
4. You’ve Got Rhythm
The human body is complex. There are hours of the day when we’re most alert, and other times where our energy quickly spikes, then fades away into exhaustion. It’s important to know these cycles so that you can schedule the toughest tasks during your peak periods while allowing yourself time for rejuvenation during your low points.
For example, you may need to be more alert while working on writing content or designing graphics, and need less energy for answering emails and responding to social media comments. If that is the case, do your writing and designing when you’re at a high point in your cycle.
Some people are more energized first thing in the morning, while others may be more able to focus after breakfast or coffee. Others may be the most productive late at night. Whatever your time is, that is when you want to eliminate all those distractions, and focus on your most important tasks.
There are also certain times of the day when people have specific strengths. Some people can solve problems better in the afternoon, while others might be more adept first thing in the morning, after they’ve had a chance to “sleep on” a problem. You might find that watching the sun go down while feeling the cool breeze of evening is when your brain feels most creative.
If you learn your own rhythms, you can schedule specific tasks to be accomplished during your most appropriate times, which will make your work easier and more efficient.
5. Eyes on the Prize
If you’re looking to be more efficient with your time, try keeping your goals in mind and making sure the tasks you spend time on are getting you closer to them.
Start by defining your company’s goals, and then list out the steps you need to take in order to reach them.
Then, prioritize your tasks according to how much they help you work towards those goals.
Finally, stick with those priorities and do not let yourself get distracted by less important things that are getting in the way of success!
Make sure you’re spending time wisely and accomplishing tasks that will help bring you closer to achieving your goals.
6. Last, But Not Least – Balance Your Life
I get it, you love your business. It’s your baby, and it’s exciting, and you want to devote all your time to it. You may be skipping meals and sleep time, just because you are so into what you are doing. But it’s also important to make time for the other things in life that are important. Things like spending time with friends and family, taking care of yourself by eating well and moving more, and giving back through volunteer activities.
When you’re not rested, your brain is foggy and it’s harder to focus on the work that needs to be done. If you’re not eating right, not getting enough sleep, or not exercising regularly, your productivity will suffer. You may be less creative and have a harder time coming up with innovative ideas. Your business will not thrive if you are too worn out and run down to do your best work.
If you find yourself sacrificing your health, or getting less sleep than you need to be productive and get things done in a timely manner, it’s time to go back to prioritizing, with you at the top of the list.
It’s not easy to make changes to your time management habits, but it is possible. Follow these 6 steps to take control of your time and start prioritizing your way to success!