Working from home is a goal for many of us: No alarms, midday puppy cuddles, and nobody to answer to other than yourself. Sounds like a dream come true! But the reality is when you have the freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want, it can be hard to stay motivated and keep productivity levels high.
Being an efficiency nerd, I made it a mission to perfect how to get more done in less time. (Because more time for me means more time for puppy cuddles!)
- Know when you work the best
Everyone has different productivity peaks. I tend to get the most work done right after I wake up, so I plan out my most difficult task for the day first. If you are unsure of when you are the most productive, keep a log for a week and really analyze when you get things done and are feeling the most motivated. Once you know, work your schedule around that!
- Set 3 priorities a day
You read that right, only three.
As an entrepreneur, our to-do lists are constantly getting longer, which can make them very overwhelming. Ever had that moment where you sit down to get things done, have so many things to do you panic and have to take a break before you actually even do anything? (Okay, maybe that’s just me.) The way I combat this is every single morning before I get out of bed I mentally decide on the 3 things I need to prioritize for that day. Then I have a specific plan and can break each priority down into the steps I need to take to complete it.
Another benefit is it helps you keep your day on track. Has anyone else ever gotten out of bed and thought, “Let me just check my email really quick.” and before you know it it’s noon, you’ve spent the entire morning putting out other people’s fires, and accomplished nothing? Yeah, setting those priorities cuts this scenario out, too. And speaking of emails…
- Schedule a set time to check your inbox
Let’s just be honest here….when you are trying to run a business, emails get super overwhelming super fast. I set aside thirty minutes each morning before I start working and each evening before I shut down to go through my inbox. I literally set a timer, do a quick scan to see if there are any emails of immediate importance that I need to read or reply to, and then work from there. And when the timer goes off? I close out of my email.
- Batch your work
Psychology Today states that we actually lose up to 40% of our productivity if we multi-task. FORTY PERCENT. That is massive! To combat this, I started batching my work and let me just say…it’s a game changer. Here’s how I implemented it:
I sat down and made a list of all of the processes in my business that are regularly repeated. For me, this was taking photographs for clients, editing photographs, curating and planning out social media posts, writing email newsletters, writing blog posts, and more. Once I had my list, I sat down with my calendar and set aside one full day a month (or more if necessary) for each task. So now instead of having to sit down each and every week and write a new blog post, I sit down once a month, write and schedule 4-5 posts, and then I don’t have to think about it again for another month!
This method of work has not only increased my productivity, it has given me back so much of my time! When I’m able to mark something off of my to-do list for an entire month it frees me up mentally, takes away a significant amount of stress, and allows me to be much more present to live life and not just be constantly working (or thinking about that massive to-do list).
- Set work hours
When I first became fully self-employed, my work hours went from 9-5 to from-the-time-I-open-my-eyes-to-the-time-I-go-to-bed. As I’m sure you can imagine, that was not a healthy situation. I was neglecting my family, my friends, and myself. I would be eating a meal with my entire family (who I flew to another state to see and who are never all in one place) while replying to emails. I would open my eyes every morning and immediately roll over to grab my phone to check for client text messages. I would be in bed trying to fall asleep and then pull out my computer for “just a couple more edits.”
But the thing is…I did not leave the comfort of a normal 9-5 with a regular paycheck and benefits to be working more and making less. So I changed it.
I decided to set hours for myself. I now work from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. When 6:00 p.m. hits? I close my office door locking my laptop inside. As entrepreneurs we love what we do, so “working” doesn’t necessarily seem like work. But setting boundaries for yourself and your clients is important and necessary if you want to maintain a healthy balance in your life.
Build boundaries, set hours, and show yourself some self-love. Because every time you say “yes” to working outside of normal hours, you are saying “no” to everything else: your family, your friends, and yourself.
About the Author:
Nicole Riccardo is a flutist, educator, and social media + branding consultant. She specializes in content creation and social media management for other musicians and music businesses. Grab her FREE guide on the 5 apps to help you crush it on Instagram! https://bit.ly/2RowFOk