How productive are you?
A holy grail for entrepreneurs, yet what is easy in theory it is very difficult in practice. Primarily because most of us have some form of entrepreneurial A.D.D. (I know I have) and the internet is built to be the world’s most effective distraction.
Here’s 9 productivity tips that have increased my productivity enormously:
1. Zero Inbox
There’s nothing that stresses me out more than knowing I’ve 100+ emails waiting for me. Infact when I look back on times that I felt stressed about my workload, it usually correlates with my inbox being fuller than a German at Oktoberfest.
The only way to take control of your inbox (and your life) is to operate a zero inbox. That means having an empty inbox everyday.
It’s possible, and when you do it, prepare yourself for a feeling of control you probably haven’t felt in years.
Time to accomplish: 2 hours
Want to know more: Check out my post: 5 Steps to a Zero Inbox
2. Working out
Ever heard the story about Sharpening the Saw? Hop on my knee and let me tell you…
A man was struggling in the woods to saw down a tree. An old farmer came by, watched for a while, then quietly said, “What are you doing?”
“Can’t you see?” the man impatiently replied, “I’m sawing down this tree.”
“You look exhausted,” said the farmer. “How long have you been at it?”
“Over five hours, and I’m beat,” replied the man. “This is hard work.”
“That saw looks pretty blunt,” said the farmer. “Why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen it? I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”
“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”
Working out is the best saw sharpener I know. But don’t take my word for it:
A conversation between Richard Branson and Tim Ferris:
Tim: “How do you become more productive?”
Sir Richard Branson leaned back and thought for a moment before answering.
He went on to elaborate that working out gave him at least four additional hours of productive time every day.
If you were to get one takeaway from this list to make you more effective, it’d be to work out. When I work out in the morning I get more done without fail.
Time to accomplish: 40 mins a day
Want to know more? You know what to do
3. Get it out of your head
Ever suffer from idea paralysis or things to do overwhelm? Hell I know I do – these days it’s not a case of lack of opportunities – but knowing what the next most important thing to do is
There are 2 major problems when we’ve got 50 ideas/things to do swimming around our head
- We forget some of them (yes, my girlfriend will agree with this one)
- Our brain is clogged up with stuff, this stifles our ability to think creatively
Solution: Write it down! Have a place you write down all your ideas and things to do as they come into your head (I use a mix of one of these and the notepad on my iphone). You’ll feel better
However that’s only half the solution as this only works if you review your ‘idea places’ regularly (say, every Sunday), otherwise your notebooks become a virtual filing cabinet that never gets looked at.
Time to accomplish: 1 hour initially, then 30 minutes once a week to review your notes
Want to know more? Read David Allen’s Getting Things Done for the world’s best ‘get it out of your head’ exercise
How many passwords do you have? Ever forget any? How much time every year do you think you lose by just by trying to type in correct passwords and remember passwords?
If it was anything like me it was a lot. And time is money.
So I use this great little piece of software called Roboform – it stores all my passwords and just logs me into any site I want to visit. Nice.
Check this video of me using Roboform:
Time to accomplish: 10 minutes setup
Want to know more? Try the free trial first. Click here to get Roboform (affiliate link)
5. Focused Pompodoros
A few years back I got addicted to To-do lists. The feeling of accomplishment when you strike off each task is seriously rewarding. But as we get more stuff to do and begin juggling multiple projects, standard To-Do lists just don’t cut it anymore.
After trying many different attempts of improving this I’ve recently found a system that is rocking my To-Do list world. It’s from the Pompodoro technique and involves listing the items you need to achieve in the day and working through them in uninterrupted, uber-focussed 25 minute segments.
The benefits – you get more done, you know what you’ve achieved and you get better at predicting the length of work.
Time to accomplish: 5 mins setup each morning
Want to know more? Check out the Pomodoro Technique Free EBook here
(Thanks to Gary from Paperbag for tipping me off to this one)
6. Focused Recovery
Top athletes now that the rest period in-between work outs are as important as the work outs themselves.
This means both taking time off (at least 1 day a week) from work and getting recovery breaks during the day (I try to take 5 mins every 25 mins, when working with the Pompodoro Technique (see number 5 above)
Sports psychologists Jim Loehr, Ed.D., and Tony Schwartz say:
“Managing energy, not time, is the key to enduring high performance as well as to health, happiness, and life balance…We must learn to live our lives as a series of sprints – fully engaged for periods of time – and then fully disengaged and seeking renewal…”
Time to accomplish: 10 minutes every hour
Want to know more? Check out the book The Power of Full Engagement
I began using mindmaps approx 1 year ago after reading Bill Liao’s inspiring book Stone Soup
Now I’m hooked.
I use mindmaps to plan out every sizeable piece of work I do before I begin. It not only allows you to think of better ideas but also gives you a structure to follow when completing the work. The few minutes it takes to plans out your mindmap is returned x10 in total time saved for writing the article, and the quality is always better.
It’s another example of ‘Sharpening the Saw’ (see above)
Time to accomplish: 10 minutes before you begin a sizeable piece of work
Want to know more? I use Mindmeister (affiliate link) – it’s great.
8. Leverage your time
Leverage your time by hiring a virtual assistant (VA). You can hire great VA’s starting from $1.50 an hour and they can do everything from web design, SEO and social media to design, web research and data entry stuff. If it’s in anyway repetitive, you really should have a VA doing it.
Leaves you more time to focus on other things
Time to accomplish: Depends on the task, but it’s always a timesaver
Want to know more? Watch this space for a post on hiring a VA
9. Leverage your reach
Most of us have multiple profiles across different web 2.0 sites (blogs, video sites, social networks). To take advantage of these you really should be posting to all of them. Ah but this takes time.
Unless of course you can post to one site, and it automatically posts to all your other profiles for you.
Sites that do this include:
- Ping.fm (social media)
- Tubemogul (Video)
Time to accomplish: 1 hour setup for each
Want to know more? Will follow this post with video examples of how I use both of these sites for leverage – stay tuned!