Being an entrepreneur has some amazing benefits. Not only do you get to follow your passion and work for something you really believe in, but you also get to set your own goals, work ethic and hours. However, those benefits can come with some downsides too. If you are an extremely driven person, getting a healthy work/life balance can be hard; if you are at the other end of the scale, your targets can start slipping because you haven’t set firm deadlines. It might seem like these different approaches don’t have anything in common, but, in actual fact, they both struggle with the same thing – PRODUCTIVITY.
Productivity isn’t about working longer and longer hours, it’s about making those hours count. You know the saying, “quality, not quantity?” Well, that is good productivity for you. Everyone likes a quick fix. How many times have you seen adverts for exercise programmes that offer better results with less time in the gym? Sadly, there’s no magic formula to making your business run at 100% with only 50% effort, but if you can increase your productivity, you can make every second you put in count.
Here are my 6 tips how to boost your productivity…
1. An Honest Assessment
First things first, it’s time to have a good, hard look in the mirror. Self-reflection is a very valuable tool in business. If you feel like you need more hours in the day, stand back and see where your hours are going.
Workaholics, are you spending too long obsessing over tiny details? Are you unable to delegate or let things go? If that sounds like you, it may be that your long hours aren’t productive ones, and that is stopping you from achieving your goals. Don’t worry, keep reading, I’m here to help.
Procrastinators, you’re not bad at business or lacking skills. If you’re struggling to stay on track, and find it hard to get your priorities in order, your productivity will suffer. My tips can help you regain focus and get your productivity soaring.
2. Stop the juggling act
I understand. As an entrepreneur, you are CEO, social media guru, secretary and tea-maker. When there are so many things to take care of, you can lose your way. You can find yourself trying to tackle everything all at once. Although it may feel like you are dealing with it all, if you spread yourself too thinly, you could be putting your business at risk. What is it that makes your company stand out from the crowd? It’s YOU. But if your “you” gets lost as you try to do too many things, you will lose the thing that draws your clients in. Better to juggle 2 or 3 balls at once, than try 6 and have them all crashing down on your head!
Sometimes there can be so much to do, that you just don’t know where to start. It’s overwhelming, and it’s demotivating. Unfortunately, there’s no getting away from the fact that running your own business does require a lot of juggling. However, if you can increase your productivity, you’ll be able to start ticking those tasks off quicker than you ever imagined.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Do you know what has been my productivity lifesaver? Planning. Every Sunday I take 20-30 minutes to plan out my week and look at my goals. Just 20-30 minutes. It doesn’t take long, but making the time to look at my week, see if anything needs moving around and focus on what I would like to achieve, saves me so much time. Not only that, but I can start my week feeling on top of things, focussed and ready for anything.
Another little bit of advice I would like to share with you, is to make the most of the technology available to you. I love the Calendly app. It helps me to keep track of all of my meetings, and even allows my clients to book Discovery Calls with me directly. Having everything all in one place and getting rid of the need to keep going back and checking things is so liberating! I highly recommend it.
4. Set goals
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your goals have to be huge ones. That in itself can put a stop to your productivity because it can be too overwhelming, or it can send you off in a hundred different directions, instead of you pushing on steadily forwards. It’s great to have long-term goals. They are an essential part of a good business plan. However, if you are struggling with your productivity, bite-sized goals are best.
As part of my weekly routine, I try to set part of my Fridays aside for business development. It gives me the chance to look at what I have achieved that week and make sure that I have stuck to the plans I made the Sunday before. This cycle of goal-setting, planning and reflecting means that I am always moving forwards. It also means that I am regularly checking in with myself to make sure that I am staying true to my brand and myself.
This can be the difficult bit! Once you have reflected on what your productivity barriers are and planned out how you are going to tackle the next stage of your business, you need to stay focussed. You know as a woman, that we are blessed with being able to multitask. Unfortunately, sometimes this ability can get in the way of our productivity. Of course we can fill the dishwasher whilst brainstorming product ideas or nip out for a coffee in between client meetings. But how does that affect your productivity trajectory? I think if you’re honest, it might cause a dip.
One of the keys to amazing productivity is to be strict with yourself. You might be working from home or setting your own schedule, but make your working hours, actual working hours. Simple tips like creating a proper working space away from distractions can help trick your brain into making you feel like you’re at work, even if you’re just in your kitchen. It might seem like you have the flexibility to squeeze some non-work activities into your day, with the promise of making that time up, but you’ll end up constantly chasing those lost hours. Better to be strict now and not have to pay later.
If you are more focussed in your approach, it will be reflected in your business. There’s no better feeling than going into a meeting knowing that you are fully prepared and ready to shine. If you have put off your prep or got distracted by other important tasks, either business or home-related, you won’t have that same air of confidence. Winging it can only get you so far. The same goes for social media posts, publications or promotions. If they aren’t focussed or released at regular intervals, you run the risk of looking a bit chaotic and that could be a turn-off for your clients.
We all know that we can’t pour from an empty cup. If your lack of productivity is taking away from “me time,” there is only so long you can carry on before you burn out. Setting up and running a business is hard work. It can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. Making time for yourself is not wasting time. Don’t feel guilty that you aren’t working. If you are so exhausted that you can’t focus, then you won’t be working productively.
Listen to your body and allow it to guide you in what you need. Self-care can look different to different people. For some it is hitting the gym, for others a pampering session, or even just a short walk around a park or half an hour with a good book and a cuppa. You know what your body craves. Allow yourself to feel nurtured and cared for regularly, so that when the stress comes, you won’t find your reserves empty.
I schedule time in my week for self-care. It is that important. When I decided to set up my business, I did it because I had a passion for photography and supporting female entrepreneurs. If I didn’t make time for myself, I know that that passion would start to dim, because everything would be about my work and nothing about me. It’s not wrong to be self-centred sometimes, especially when you are the centre of your business. You are the reason for your business, so it’s only right that you take care of yourself.
A mentor can help boost your focus and productivity
Sometimes, even with the best will in the world, staying on track and working productively can be difficult. If it is something you have recognised in yourself and feel that you need help with, a mentor can be the perfect solution. As part of my business, I get alongside female entrepreneurs as a mentor, to help guide them and keep them moving forwards. By setting targets and having regular mentoring meetings, I build a bond of accountability with my clients. Something as simple as having someone check in with you can boost your focus and productivity. And having someone walk your journey with you can give you the reassurance that you can stay on the right track. I would love to be that person for you.
Read more how I support proposed driven entrepreneurs here.