Ever find yourself staring at the computer screen and realising its been a couple of hours but not much has been done? Ever feel frustrated that you have a job to do but you aren’t focused sufficiently? The tips below will help you stay on track and maximise your productivity when starting your small business. You have a lot of work to do! Let’s make sure you do it as well as possible.
1. Social media and online distractions
You’re working on your computer and you imagine that you’re being productive. How much of your actual time are you working? It’s really easy to be sidetracked with browsing Facebook and Instagram, checking the news and other sites. Make sure you physically log out of your social media sites and turn your phone off. You’ll be amazed as to how productive you can be without small but constant distractions taking up your time.
2. Figure out your circadian rhythm
Scientists have long been working on when humans are more productive. Most people are most productive in the morning but everyone works differently. As you start your small business think carefully about the jobs that will need the most brain-work and which jobs are less taxing. Then choose your most productive times to do your most difficult jobs – you’ll find you do those jobs so much better! If you know that you work well late evening – go to bed a bit later; if you work well in the morning – get up slightly earlier. This will help maximise your productivity in the hours when you are already most productive.
3. Recognise your limitations
Sometimes, for whatever reason, you aren’t feeling productive. Perhaps you’re tired, hungover or preoccupied. Rather than staring blankly at the computer screen getting more and more frustrated go and take a break: be kind to yourself. There I no point wanting time on work when you are not being productive. Instead, get on with life admin, exercise, do the weekly shop or be productive in another area in your life. Then you can go back to the business task when you are feeling more in the right head-space. Don’t beat yourself up about your lack of productivity – that negative self-perpetuating cycle won’t help you get back your zest and self-motivation that you need.
4. Self-care is business care
To maximise your productivity, you need to prioritise yourself and your wellbeing. Bosses know that happy workers are productive workers but when you work for yourself it is easy to forget that. Treat yourself like you would treat anyone who worked for you. You would allow an employee to take time off for illness or to leave work early for a special occasion; don’t treat yourself any differently. Often, people working for themselves take no notice of their own needs as they are driven to succeed – but to maximise your productivity you need to treat yourself like an employee and ensure that you are fit and healthy and happy and able to work – even if that is for yourself.
5. Brain food
Scientists have done lots of research into what foods maximise and nourish our brain’s capacity to work. Oily fish contain Omega 3 and help fuel brain regeneration. Nuts and blueberries are also known as good for fuelling brain function. Green tea also boosts brain function as it has caffeine in it. Broccoli and other greens help keep your brain (and other bits of you!) healthy and happy. Suffice to say, that white carbohydrates like white bread and rice, can make you sluggish and slow. Avoid large and fatty meals before settling down to be productive – you are likely to be frustrated by your lack of productivity! I would suggest complex carbohydrates such as porridge or oats for breakfast and then a light, protein fuelled lunch. Reward yourself in the evening, if you want to, with less brain-fuelling food but at least you’ll know that you have maximised your day and used your brain efficiently and well.
6. Rate your tasks by Brain Power
As someone starting to set up a small business you probably have a long list of tasks that need to be done. Some of these jobs require a lot of brain power, some are more manual or labour intensive but don’t require actual thinking. Rate each of your jobs by urgency and by brain power and then you can choose the jobs that are suitable for how you are feeling. Try to avoid at all costs, that feeling of powerlessness and frustration as you stare at a job without feeling the willpower and ability to do the task. That negative feeling will then cause many more psychological barriers to achievement which will be addressed in the next point.
7. Failure and getting over it
If there is one guarantee in starting a new venture, it’s this: failure will happen. Failure will happen and it is how you get up and deal with it that will determine your success. When it comes to productivity the same applies – when you don’t feel productive you feel like a failure. That feeling of failure can make you feel worried or stressed which floods your brain with stress hormones which will make you far less productive. When you aren’t productive and feel like you’ve had a ‘wasted day’ it’s easy to feel anxious about tasks ahead. Instead, try and draw a line under the unproductive day and approach your new day with new zest and zeal: you can’t change the past so keep a positive mindset.
So, how do you maximise your productivity? Avoid distractions, prioritise the your most productive time of day for your most difficult jobs; take care of yourself as you would an employee and take time for yourself. Choose jobs that will make you feel productive and be kind to yourself if you aren’t successful: after all, tomorrow is another day.