There are days when you dread doing work as a business owner. But it’s ok! We all experience bad days because we’re human.
But what if there was a deadline?
When a deadline occurs, you either try to force yourself to do the work or you can outsource it to someone else. But if you can’t do the second option, then you need some ways to get productive again.
In this post, I’ll share my strategies on how you can have a productive week as a business owner.
Create your To-Do List
Look, you can’t remember all the tasks in your brain. That’s why it’s better to put those down on paper. This is what we call a ‘to-do list’.
To create a to-do list, you got to know your SMART goals first. This stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Then, you split those goals into smaller attainable tasks. For example, your goal is to lose 10 kilos within 2 months. So one of your tasks is to do “30 minutes of daily exercise”.
Once you’ve got your tasks down, figure out a way to install this into your daily routine. Remember, you can’t get to where you want to be without the work (action is key)!
Here are three goal-orientation strategies.
- Put down 6 goals (or tasks) for tomorrow the night before. When the day comes, try to complete the 6 goals as much as possible. If you don’t remember, refer but don’t change it. At the end of the day tick off the tasks that you’ve completed. If you have goals that have not been done, move them on to the next day.
- Another trick is to list down the most prioritised to least important tasks. You usually have the most energy the moment you wake up. Once you completed your important tasks, you can end off the day doing smaller tasks.
- The last way is to start with little tasks and then work your way up to the bigger tasks. You can do this if you need the motivation to work on things (or if you’re a perfectionist- we’ll talk more on this later on).
There are many ways you can create a to-do list, whether that be on paper or on phone.
- For digital to-do lists: you can use your phone’s default reminder or notes app. If you need a tool that syncs with all your devices, you can use Microsoft’s To-Do app. It used to be Wunderlist but they merged into Microsoft’s To Do.
- For physical to-do lists: use a simple paper you have lying around and write down your tasks. You can use a notepad, a to-do list pad (which I like to use a lot), a blank journal, a bullet journal or even a monthly/yearly planner.
Choose which to-do list works for you. Doing this will ensure you’re being consistent in building a habit that leads the path to your main goal.
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Use a Calendar
Using a calendar timetable is one of the best ways to organise your life. You can add in blocks that cover the time you’re using.
This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to schedule meetings. Skim through your calendar and you’re able to view your deadlines, holidays, birthdays and more.
I recommend using a digital calendar like Google Calendar. This software connects with your Gmail, Chrome and all other Google extensions.
Or you can use a different calendar software depending on what apps you used the most. If you use a lot of Microsoft Office apps, you can use their Calendar app. For Microsoft users, it’s already integrated into your desktop.
There are four ways you can view your calendar: Day, Week, Month and Year. It all depends on your preference. I used to use the monthly view as a beginner but after learning how to block the schedule, I now use the weekly view.
You can create coloured tags that allow you to categorise your blocks. Here’s a tutorial for Google calendar:
- Make sure you go to calendar.google.com on your desktop browser. Not the app OR mobile devices (it won’t work)!
- On the top right, you will see a screwdriver (it should be between the question mark icon and the view dropbox). Click on the “Settings”.
- Click on the “Add calendar” drop box and then click on “Create new calendar”.
- Here is where you put your tag name and your time. Adding the description is optional. Once you’ve done that, click on “Create calendar”.
- Your new tag should appear on the left side under “Settings for my calendars”.
- To change the tag colours, click on any tag you created. Scroll down until you’re under “Integrate calendar”. Then click on “Customise”.
- On the left sidebar, scroll down to “Calendars to display”. On any tags, you want to change the colours, move your cursor to the tag until the 3 dots show. Click on the dots and it will show you a bunch of colours to choose from.
Set a Pomodoro Timer
The Pomodoro technique revolves around 25 minutes of focused work and 5 minutes of break. After completing 4 Pomodoros, you have a longer break between 15 minutes to 30 minutes.
This method was created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. He used a kitchen timer to break the work times into intervals. Then separated by shorter breaks.
You don’t have to use the exact time mentioned above. You can change the work time, break time and long breaks that suit your focus. For example, I like to set myself a 1-hour work time, 15 minutes short breaks and 30 minutes – 1 hour of long breaks. Do what works for you.
Fun fact: “Each interval is known as a Pomodoro, from the Italian word for tomato.” The kitchen timer Cirillo used was shaped like a tomato that he used when he was a university student. Pretty cool right? That’s why when you search for Pomodoros, you will see a tomato kitchen timer.
This is one of the best hacks to staying disciplined. I like to mention this method a lot because it has helped me as a freelancer and a business owner.
Use a Collaborative Software (Notion)
You probably have lots of software you use when collaborating with teammates. But what tool I used the most is Notion (which is free).
So what is Notion? “Notion is a project management and note-taking software. It’s designed to help members of a company or organisation coordinate deadlines, objectives, and assignments for the sake of efficiency and productivity.“
I use it for creating checklists, collaborative boards, content calendars and more. You get a blank canvas and then you add and customise the canvas however you like.
At first, you might be overwhelmed (I was like that when I first started using Notion). After giving it a second shot, it became the number one app I use daily.
You can move the text boxes and categorise them by headings, fonts, highlights or text colours. You can even add tables, boards, drop boxes, media and more on one page. You can use this software without having to download many apps (easily accessible).
P.S not sponsored. Just love the app!
Make yourself Coffee
Whether that be instant coffee, matcha or “Bianco forte”, I like to start my day with a cup to get me out of that drowsy state.
There are many benefits to drinking coffee, not just for productivity. For such, these include a boost of energy, supporting health, and a lower risk of depression (and even death, omg!). Let me explain.
- Boost of energy: coffee has caffeine, a stimulant to fight off fatigue. It blocks off the neurotransmitter receptors called adenosine. So the moment you drink that cup, you get a hit of alert and higher energy.
- Supporting health: There are many ways that coffee supports health. This includes lower risk of type 2 diabetes, supports brain health and heart, protects against liver disease, lowers the risk of depression, promotes weight management and increases longevity. You can read more about these studies here.
If you’re not a big fan of coffee, that’s ok! You can also drink tea or energy drinks to help you be productive throughout the week.
Plan before the First Work Day
Ok here’s a question for you: what would you do if you were late for work? (now imagine saying that in John Quinones’ voice).
Things unexpectedly happen in life so it’s great to be prepared.
Here’s an example: If you start work on a Monday, have Sunday to prepare your clothing, lunch, etc. If you ever wake up late you can pack the things you need, change your clothes and be out the door.
You can also use your calendar to guide you through the week’s schedule.
Play Upbeat Music
If you’re feeling unproductive, take a few hours before work to play your favourite upbeat playlist. Music affects your mood.
Studies have shown that music increases your brain’s dopamine levels. Playing “familiar music can boost productivity levels because it doesn’t need focus“.
In a case study done in 1972, “scientific journal, Applied Ergonomics found that background music increased the efficiency of repetitive tasks. One of the four experiments conducted in the study found that music increase productivity by 7.4%.“
In another study done in 2016, the TotalJobs survey resulted in 79% of respondents saying they’re more productive if they listen to music while they work. “Among the survey’s 4,553 respondents, 48% said music helped them focus. Another 24% said it helped them mask external distractions such as noise and conversations. 7% Said music helped them avoid internal distractions such as irrelevant thoughts.“
Now, if you’re planning on using music to work, then your upbeat lyrical music might not do the trick. Try playing classic music, bossa nova, lofi beats, jazz or any instrumental music. You can also try playing music that’s in another language (for example, Korean indie).
“Progress is better than Perfect”
Didn’t finish a task for today? It’s not the end of the world. No need to go hard on yourself. For some, we grew up having to have high expectations. This is called “perfectionism”.
Here’s a definition: “Perfectionism is a broad personality style characterised by a person’s concern with striving for flawlessness and perfection. It is accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations“.
In Struthless’ video, I learned about this trick called the “70% rule“.
He mentioned an important quote by Brene Brown,
“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to do your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect & act perfect, we can minimise or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, & shame. It’s a shield. It’s a 20-tone shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s preventing us from flight.“
In his rule, it goes like this: “aim for 70%, not 100%”. Ask yourself “can I make it at least 70% perfect?” rather than “can I make this 100% perfect?”.
He said you can put in place this strategy by using repetition and reward. Anytime you find yourself beating yourself up, ask yourself “was it better than 70%?” and if you answered yes, reward yourself with a nice compliment or a reward.
This also resembles your habits (whether that be quitting smoking, quitting drinking, exercising daily, etc.). So try this trick out if you’re a perfectionist.
Which strategies will you install into creating a productive week?
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I’ll see you soon,