The key to being more productive on any given day is to focus on what you need to do and make sure you get it done before moving on to the next task or activity. If you keep this daily routine, you’ll be more productive by focusing on one task at a time instead of juggling different tasks from one moment to the next. Here’s how I stay focused throughout my workday.
Define Your Overall Mission and goals
Before you tackle anything else, be sure that you’ve set your end goal clearly in mind. It can take a little time to grasp what you want for yourself in terms of accomplishments and future opportunities. However, once you know what you’re aiming for—and why—the next steps will become more clear. Remember: Write down your mission statement and keep it somewhere easily accessible like your journal or on your phone so that it is always on your mind. Remember that working on the right thing is more important than working hard.
Do what’s most important every day
Build a daily routine that centers on your top priorities. I call it my critical-path method, and I use it to make sure I get the most important things done every day. It’s simple: Every morning, I sit down and write down my top 5 most important tasks for the day. Then tackle those things in order of importance. I try to complete all five tasks each day, but if I don’t, the uncompleted tasks get transferred to the next day.
Focusing on just five tasks helps me stay focused and on track. I have another sheet where I jot down random things that still need to happen but aren’t as important. This way I always have a master list of all the things I need to do while still staying focused on the important tasks.
Do What’s Important Before You Do What’s Urgent
The importance of making priorities
It’s not always easy to make your daily schedule fit your goals, but it’s important to try. Organizing your time and tasks using a prioritized list will make you more productive and help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Getting organized is an essential first step to take when setting goals or tackling new projects; otherwise, it can feel like you’re busy working all day, without much to show for it. There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive.
Timeboxing my business tasks
One of my methods to getting things done is what I call timeboxing. Timeboxing is a time management technique that requires you to designate a specific time frame for a specific task. During this time, you only focus on the tasks and remove all other distractions. Again, instead of bouncing from task to task, you focus on something specific. The best part about timeboxing is that it’s very flexible. Just about any work activity can be timeboxed–whether you’re writing an email, preparing for a meeting, or building a spreadsheet. As a small business owners it’s easy to try and do all the things all the time and lose focus and momentum in actually getting anything completed. I would rather focus on one project and get it done in a few hours than work on many little things and get nothing done.
Working at the right time
Another really great way to be more productive is knowing what time during the day you do your best work. I used to wake up and the first thing I would do is jump in my inbox and try and answer all my emails. Some days it would take me a few hours in the morning (also the time of day I usually feel the most energy and most creative). And realized that after answering my emails and taking a lunch break, I felt more tired and less inspired to work on other projects.
I now use my morning hours (where I feel most inspired) to work on important projects and leave the afternoon and evening hours to answer emails. Something that doesn’t take much inspiration, but certainly a lot of time. Take some time to figure out when you feel most productive vs when you don’t seem to get much done and get your important work done during the right time.
Do What’s Important Before You Do What’s Urgent
Although there’s a ton of advice that encourages people to focus on urgent tasks first, which might be a good idea for some, but it can be incredibly damaging as an entrepreneur. When things feel urgent but aren’t actually important, it’s easy to become distracted from what really matters. The best way I’ve found to avoid that trap is by creating a daily list in a separate area in my notebook for all the things I still need to do and then hand-select which ones make it to my priority list each morning.
Balance Work And Life
It can be hard to find time for everything you want and need during a workday. The less time you have outside of work, though, the less effective you’ll be at work. To stay motivated and productive at your job—and happy in your personal life—it’s important to make sure that you’re making time for yourself and your priorities. Although I’m often guilty of putting time for myself last, I’ve realized that when I find a good balancing between work and life, I end up getting more enjoyment out of the work I do.
With a never-ending list of things to do, business owners have to become good at time management and know-how to maximize their results with the time they have. Identifying your top priorities, time-blocking, and knowing what time you do your best work is the perfect way to get more done in less time! Just don’t forget to find the right balance between life and balance so it’s something you can continue long-term.