As an August baby, I have constantly needed to hustle my way through running a business and celebrating my birthday during a time when many people leave town.
I generally will not let simple things like “it’s a quiet month” and “we’re going to decide in September” or “let’s wait till after the summer” stop me from making things happen. In fact, August is the perfect month to get those procrastination projects picked up and done, ready for September. And a time to try out new habits.
Since I managed to solve the email problem – yes, really – I realise that while we all have the same amount of time in a day, there are ways to be more effective and productive, using simple strategies. And I consider myself a really productive person, but still love to discover new productivity hacks to save time – so I can do even more!
Diarise co-working sessions
Why not meet up with your business friends and clients and work together? You have to be strict with your agenda. I allow 15 mins to 30 mins for catching up, followed by 45 mins to an hour of actual working time. You need a coffee shop or a members club with wifi, and to share the tasks you are each working on with each other, so you hold each other accountable.
Anything that needs to be done regularly needs a name and a template
This is a matter of training yourself now, to create working systems on an ongoing basis. It’s recognising, every day, that there are things you do that could be templated. This means next time you get asked a question you have heard before, you already have either a pre-written explanation, a blog post link to send, a how to, or a set of questions you need to ask to get more information. It works internally too. For example, our newest intern just began and we gave her a printout of “11 things you need to know on your first day” this is something we can give to future interns now, to ensure they know the answers to questions about our working hours, dress code, how to make tea, and where we save our files. That’s just one example! Do this sort of thing every day, and life will just get easier, and you will be more productive.
Block your time and batch your tasks
People diarise their meetings, appointments, and phone calls, but diarising your time to work on specific tasks means you have an appointment where that’s exactly what you focus on for the duration. And while blocking out your time, put your tasks into batches – such as “send 10 invoices”, or “write 4 blog posts” or “Reduce the number of emails in my inbox by 20!” and this will help you focus and get things done!
Outsource and delegate
How do you decide what to outsource or delegate? By asking yourself questions like:
- Do I enjoy this?
- Am I learning?
- Am I really, honestly TRULY the only person in the world to do this?
If the answer to all three questions is “no”, then ask someone else to do it. It takes time to teach them what to do but then you have someone else in the world happy to work on this.
Decide on a point of completion, and write down next steps
You can’t work forever! And you will never really run out of things to do. But at a certain point you need to stop working or you will burn out. So decide at the beginning “I will do 2 out of 10 pages now” or “I will finish 3 of these” or “I will get to the 1/3 mark” and then when you get there, make a list of the next steps. This is because if you are in the middle of a task, you have the next steps fresh in your mind! You can then pick up the task and continue easily.
Tools like Trello can change your life.
There are lots of different online tools which are built for productivity and efficiency. Just Google “tools for productivity and efficiency”. I have listed some of my favourite in my blog post about how I reached Inbox Zero – and these tools also help me to be more productive. Trello specifically has been life changing. Seriously!
I have shared boards with each of the team here at TLD, and whenever we have an intern I invite them to a board.
It’s really flexible and intuitive. In each board you can have the things you have to do and the things you can very satisfyingly move to the “Done” board. You can decide yourselves how you want to name your lists and boards – and create a system that suits you.
Here are some of the things I use Trello for:
- Keeping track of what I have to do daily
- Keeping useful information relating to projects (so I don’t need to dig through emails so much)
- Storing lists and details for things I want to do and places I want to see
- Keeping ideas for creative projects, blog post ideas and marketing ideas
- Keeping track of the things I have to do each month
- Knowing what each of the team is working on, in the middle of, has coming up
Keeping this in Trello means I always have a place to go to jot things down, and get it out of my head but there at my fingertips. If you are trying Trello