This is one of the biggest questions people ask me: how do I stay productive in my own business? As yarnpreneurs, we often work from home, and we’re usually the only ones responsible for our productivity. (We don’t normally have a boss breathing down our necks to finish something.)
These unique conditions, along with the majority of us being right-brainers, can make for a tough time getting things done in our businesses.
So I’ve put together this quick guide to steer you through unlocking your productivity potential!
1. Know your strengths.
We’re not good at everything in our businesses. And we don’t all like to do things the same way. I read an amazing book called Work Simply, that takes you through a series of quizzes to determine your productivity type. This made me realize that we’re not all going to respond to the same productivity techniques the same way. Some will work, and some will not. That’s okay!
The key here then becomes finding what works for you. Are you more productive during a certain time of day? Do you find it easier to work with music playing, or do you find that more distracting? Is it easier for you to “batch” tasks, or does the variety of doing different tasks keep you from being bored?
I encourage you to pay attention to your working habits for a week or two. Take notes daily on what works and what feels like it needs improvement. Only once you know how you work, can you change things and create better habits and working conditions.
2. Know your limits.
All types of entrepreneurs are susceptible to work overload and burnout. Knowing your limit can keep you from becoming either a work zombie, or a workaholic; neither of which is helpful for your productivity, your business, or your health.
A work zombie is someone who is zoned out or just going through the motions. They’re not able to grow in their business or take advantage of opportunities because they’re too stuck in the day-to-day.
A workaholic is someone that simply can’t seem to stop working. They work harder and harder and yet usually don’t see results. They’re extremely susceptible to burnout and sometimes blind to the effects of their habits.
Take note in your journal of how many hours you spend in your business. Do you feel like the time you’re putting in is generating the results you’re looking for? If not, it may be time to reevaluate the tasks you’re doing. You might be spending time where it’s not needed or where it won’t get you ideal results.
3. Set goals.
Without goals, it’s hard to know if we’re making progress. However, I set goals a little differently than most people. Here’s why: goals are meant to be achieved. They want to be achieved. And not in 2 years or more, but relatively quickly.
These types of goals keep us not only reaching for new heights, but also they allow us to accomplish things.
So I encourage a few things when goal setting in your business:
- Turn your projects into goals.
- Break your goals down into bite-sized tasks.
- Don’t set a goal for more than 3 months from now.
I know some of this might seem counterintuitive, but it will help you become more productive in the day-to-day. Setting goals this way is way less intimidating and that means we’ll wind up accomplishing more. And here’s the bonus: over time all of that goal-achieving adds up!
(What do I do with “goals” that will take more than three months? I call them dreams!)
4. Find focus.
There’s a word for that state where you’re engrossed in a task to the point where it’s not only very hard to get distracted, but the task itself seems to come easily… it’s called Flow.
That’s why my last tip is to find your flow and focus. This is where your notes on your working habits will come in handy. Take a look at those notes and see where you were when things were flowing well, or you felt really focused. What were the conditions? Did you feel that way during certain tasks only?
The biggest question you’ll want to ask here is: what can I do to replicate that focus as much as possible in my business?
Now that you have some data and ideas to work with, you get to start experimenting!
Apply what you’ve learned and take notes again. Was it better? Are there still improvements you can make? Continue to refine the way you work until you’re satisfied. (Hint: you may never be 100% satisfied. You’ll most likely continue to refine the way you work for the rest of your life!)
The goal here is to increase your productivity, your work enjoyment, and your focus. These four keys should help you unlock your best productivity state so you can work smarter and accomplish more.