20 ways to be more productive

Do you ever feel like there just isn’t enough hours in the day? Struggling to complete deadlines and never seeming to be able to get through your to do list? The truth is it doesn’t have to be like this. When you run your own business, you can literally design your working day. Managing your time to be your most productive is key but it can sometimes be hard to know where to start…

Here are 20 ideas to help you get more done:

1. Do the biggest task first and complete it

There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is the biggest task, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re done with the worst thing you’ll have to do all day.

Read the book Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy for more in depth details.

2. Reduce your working hours

Try working a 6 (or even less) hour day. There have been many studies indicating that a shorter work day reduces stress and laziness from overwhelm at the same time increasing efficiency and subsequently profits.

Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

3. Be proactive not reactive

Don’t let daily distractions like phone calls and emails dictate how you spend your day. This means setting 2-3 times in the day (preferably in the afternoon) that you check your emails, make calls or have meetings.

Taken the book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

4. Implement the 2-minute rule

The two-minute rule is about forming habits and reducing procrastination, rather than the results you achieve. It’s a way to focus on the action and then the rest will follow. So, if a task takes less than two minutes, then do it now.

Read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen

5. Turn off your phone

Resist the temptation to check emails, messages and answer calls. Put your phone on silent turn it upside down and place it over the other side of the room. Smartphones are ranked one of the biggest distractions of modern life.

6. Drink more water

Keep a refillable water bottle on your desk. When you’re dehydrated, you’ll have far less energy and get less done.

7. Split tasks up into smaller chunks and use a timer

Divide tasks up into smaller chunks of under an hour and set yourself the challenge of completing within a certain time. Even just the act of timing each task helps to keep you working fast and focussed.

Install an app like the free Flexible Timers on your desktop. Alternatively check out the Pomodoro Technique

8. Reduce your to do list

To do lists are great but when you run your own business the sheer number of tasks can just keep multiplying. Take a less is more approach and have no more than 3 things on your days list that you confirm the night before. 

Use an app like Trello on your desktop. Viewing your big goals and projects on the same screen as your tasks allows you to keep aligned with the big picture. Check out their templates for inspiration.

9. Stop multitasking

It can be tempting to want to take care of a few tasks at once but it’s counterproductive. Also changing tasks more than 10 times a day drops your IQ an average of 10 points.

10. Split the day up and take breaks

Trying to focus all day just isn’t sustainable. Begin your day by focussing on 90 minutes, uninterrupted, on the task you decide the night before. The idea is you do 3 or 4 of these sessions in a day. Making sure you set a clear stopping time to get up from your desk, perhaps do some body weight exercises, eat a healthy snack or just have coffee or water.   

Tony Schwartz, founder of The Energy Project, teaches this technique. He believes that humans are designed to “pulse” between expending energy and renewing energy.

11. Use tools to simplify tasks

Use tools to help make your life easier and automate as much as possible. Here are some free options:

Slack makes sharing documents, images and messages easy, if you work in a team.
Rescue Time helps you track the time you spend on various websites.
IFTT helps automate and connect your apps.
Loom helps you get your message across through instantly shareable video.
Trello boards, lists, and cards enable you to organise and prioritise your projects.

12. Update your workspace

A comfortable clean workspace helps you feel your best. Natural light is important, as is personalising your space to increase an emotional connection to your work. However, limit this to just a few items like a lamp, plant, photo or scented candle. You need to strike a balance. Research also shows that decluttering your work environment helps alleviate stress and anxiety, which in turn increases productivity.   

13. Say no to meetings

Meetings are time consuming, especially if you have to travel there. Most of the time they could be a lot shorter than they actually are. So, make sure you actually have an agenda and leave when you are done. More importantly, before you book a meeting, ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals through video call, email or phone. And can it be done whilst you travel or in between tasks.

14. Work elsewhere

A change of scenery is a great way to break up the week and keep you engaged. If you work from home, try working at a library, coffee shop or even hot desk at a coworking space. If you work from an office or studio, try working from home. Even one day a week can make all the difference.

If you’re in London TOG the Office Group offer a drop-in workspace in a choice of 27 locations for under £100 / month for 32 hours use.

A cheaper alternative to traditional co-working spaces is AndCo. With 60+ locations in London, they utilise hotels, bars and restaurants during quiet times. Providing bookable places to work at a fraction of the cost of co-working and at unlimited usage.

15. Set smaller goals

Big goals are exciting, but they can set you up for failure when we set the bar too high. They can even de-motivate and discourage you from even getting started. Author and speaker Dorie Clark says setting smaller goals for shorter time periods makes you more flexible and quicker to adapt to new information or changing circumstances.

16. Listen to music

Listening to music while you work will be a matter of personal preference and will depend on the type of work you’re doing. However, it has been shown to increase productivity when doing certain tasks.

Brain FM uses scientific research to provide functional music to improve the activities you do.

17. Take care of yourself

It goes without saying, looking after yourself is critical to your overall well-being and physical health which has a knock-on effect on productivity. Self-care requires you listen to your body and mind and responds to it’s needs. Whether that means eating better, doing more exercise, or simply taking more rest when needed.  

18. Stick to the 80/20 rule

Also known as the Pareto Principle, this rule suggests that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. Therefore, you need to eliminate the things that don’t matter during your workday as they have a minimal effect on your overall productivity.

19. Create an ergonomic desk set up

Give your desk a makeover, making sure you have an ergonomic set up. The correct chair height, adequate equipment spacing and good posture all help you stay comfortable and prevent injuries.

20. Have a life

Last but not Least creating a work / life balance is one of the biggest challenges of building a business. However, from the start you should be thinking about the bigger picture and build your business around you and your life’s goals. There will always be a million different things fighting for your attention. You just need to ascertain what is important to you and learn to switch off.

If you’d like help with your sustainable fashion business, get in touch.