Do you feel like there are never enough hours in the day to do all you need to do? Maybe the problem isn’t time, but how you’re using it. Try these 10 tips to power up your personal productivity.
- Streamline. Are you juggling two paper calendars, an organizer and a Blackberry? Get control by paring down to one master organizing system. Whether that’s an organizer binder, a PDA or a computerized system doesn’t matter, as long as it works for you.
- Go step by step. When big tasks seem overwhelming, you’ll be tempted to procrastinate. Break big tasks into small steps. For instance, if you’re looking for new office space, the first small step might be “Look up commercial real estate brokers in my area.” Take one step a day, and you’ll make steady progress.
- Don’t over-schedule. Be realistic when setting deadlines and goals. Figure out how long a task should take, then build in a “cushion” of time in case something goes wrong. Leave at least two hours each work day unscheduled so you’ll have time to deal with the unexpected.
- Harness your natural rhythms. Observe yourself for a week or so to figure out what times of day you’re most (and least) productive. Schedule tasks that require complex thinking, creativity or interaction for your energetic hours. Fill your natural down times with easier tasks like handling paperwork or organizing your office.
- Pinpoint time-wasters. Are you constantly interrupted by the phone ringing or employees dropping by to chat? Figure out how to eliminate time-wasters. If you need uninterrupted time, set your phone to go to voice mail a few hours a day. Visitors lingering on your comfy couch? Pile it with books so it won’t be inviting.
- Prioritize. Before the week begins, write down your key goals and tasks for that week. Try to predict problems that might arise and how you will handle them. Every night, jot down a to-do list for tomorrow with three key goals.
- Delegate. Entrepreneurs often hang onto tasks that employees could easily handle. Learn to delegate, and free up time to focus on growing your business. (Plus, employees appreciate the chance to gain new skills and experience.)
- Fit in fitness. A little activity each day makes a big difference in your productivity. Whether it’s getting up extra early to squeeze in a gym workout, walking instead of driving to a client meeting, or a brisk 10-minute walk at noon, find ways to fit in fitness.
- Get rest. I know it’s hard, but you must make every effort to get the sleep you need for peak performance. Keep laptops, cell phones and other business tools out of the bedroom. Give yourself time to wind down at the end of each day.
- Think long-term. It’s easy to get caught up in checking off your to-do lists and putting out fires. Also make time for long-term thinking and strategic planning. Whether you spend one day on this, or every Friday morning, set aside a regular block of time to focus on your business’s future.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Before launching her business, she was Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Follow Rieva on Twitter @Rieva and read more of her insights on SmallBizDaily.com.