If you’re like most entrepreneurs, then you may have a hard time getting and staying productive. That’s partly because you find ideas everywhere. While it’s great to have so many ideas during the start-up phase, new ideas can keep you from completing tasks. There’s always something new pulling you away from the tasks that will move you closer to achieving your goals and seeing your vision through.
In some ways, slowing down the new ideas is the path to productivity. Let’s cover a few ways you can use switching off for the greater good and increase your productivity and motivation for your business.
1. Too Much Technology is Like Too Much of Anything
As an entrepreneur in this century, you are likely connected to your devices most of the time. Checking emails, writing proposals, and managing clients, all requires the use of technology meant to be helpful and reduce time and energy spent on tasks.
But using your laptop, cellphone or tablet too often can also lead to burnout and deplete your energy. Studies have shown that the increase of LCD time and blue light exposure over time can lead to higher levels of stress, anxiety, and even insomnia in most adults. It’s important to have some time away from screens completely to restore balance to the ratio of red to blue light humans need to function at the highest productivity levels.
Disconnecting, spending time in nature, and getting natural sunlight exposure will help to restore this balance even faster.
2. It’s Okay to Ignore the Little Things
Okay, maybe some little things are urgent, but cell phones always in arms’ reach have trained us to hear, see, notice, and check for every notification throughout the day. It’s important to realize just how much valuable time you can waste throughout the day, with every little notification interrupting you.
Think about it, in most corporate structures, there is a chain of command. If someone wants to talk to the CEO and alert them of something, there tends to be several other people to go through first. It’s your phone so people can reach you directly, but there should be a filtration system nevertheless.
Most apps and browser notifications have minimal urgency — turn them off completely, or selectively for something like banking apps or other high priority items.
Silence everything but phone calls, and then only select priority numbers. If you’re expecting a call, you will likely notice it come through, or you can set the alarm to allow all call volume for a specified period of time.
Allow yourself some breathing room and watch your focus and productivity soar. You can always come back and check everything you “missed” once you miss it.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee
3. Prioritize Rest
The next way to increase productivity may be unexpected, but it’s rest. As an entrepreneur, you must prioritize taking breaks during the day or even taking naps. These breaks can help to reset your brain and your mindset. Especially when it comes to complicated or stressful problems, just taking a break and coming back to the task later can significantly reduce frustration and lead to more creative thinking and problem-solving.
Another way to get and prioritize the rest you need is through vacations. Whether a short day or weekend trip or a much longer multi-week vacation, it’s essential to step away from everything every once and a while to keep you fresh and focused when the time calls for it.
4. Create a Comfortable Workspace
If you’ve ever read, or even heard of the Marie Kondo Method, you know just how much mental clarity you can gain by clearing and tidying up your personal spaces. The same idea can easily apply to your workspace.
By cleaning, decluttering, and personalizing your desk, office, and workspace, you create a welcoming environment in which to focus and work. Decluttering is especially important if you work primarily from home to help you separate work from your home life.
Seeing your favorite motivational or business success quotes in the same place each day can do wonders for your mental clarity, focus, and productivity. Let alone having your entire space tidy and organized!
5. Remember Your Mind Has Limits
We would all love to pop a pill and have limitless mental resources and energy, but sadly, this technology only exists in the movies. To that effect, to keep up maximum efficiency with all the tasks you can handle, take note of the tasks that are particularly stressful and mentally consuming.
Many times it can’t be avoided, but you can manage it. Try only taking on one such task per day or if many are necessary for a shorter time, schedule quick, but frequent breaks while you are completing these tasks.Not only will it help keep your frustration low, but you will have more clarity, motivation, and persistence while you work.
On the subject of clarity and persistence, note that while multi-tasking does exist, it does not help your productivity. Instead, focus on one task at a time and give it your complete attention. By avoiding switching from task to task, you allow your brain the opportunity to experience deep focus, which is the key to actual productivity.
In deep focus, you problem-solve more efficiently and complete tasks more accurately. One such method for encouraging this deep level of focus is called the Pomodoro Technique. After walking through your important and urgent tasks for the day, estimate how long you expect each task to take. From there, create your Pomodoro.
A Pomodoro consists of a period of intensely focused work time on a singular task followed by a break period where you detach entirely from work. A typical Pomodoro work to rest ratio is 45 minutes: 15 minutes. For 45 minutes, you have absolutely no distractions and focus on your work; if you get interrupted or distracted, you must start over. Then afterward, you get 15 minutes to eat, use the restroom, check your Twitter, walk around the block, or whatever you need to do to detach yourself from the task at hand completely. Rinse and repeat.
Try this technique out and watch your productivity soar. Of course, you are free to adjust the time ratio to what works best for you. For example, if you’d rather work in 30-minute blocks as opposed to 1-hour blocks, a 25 minute: 5-minute ratio may be better for you. Give yourself longer 15-minute breaks after every 2-4 cycles.
“Effective performance is preceded by painstaking preparation” – Brian Tracy
7. You Are Still Just One Person
One last thing to note, especially in today’s culture which idolizes the sovereign hero or heroine who “does it all,” you are still only one person. It is simply not possible or even practical to attempt to do everything yourself. Some tasks are better suited for someone with different experience and training. Other times, you may be the best person for the job, but there is not enough time in the day, or you would have to run your wellness into the ground to accomplish it all.
In these times, it’s better to outsource the task and prioritize keeping yourself well to focus on what you can do and where you are needed most. Take care of yourself first, and watch your business productivity soar — after all, as an entrepreneur, you are your business.