So much to do, so little time.
When I started my business, I used to work round the clock. Always on one task or the other. There was always something to do. The urgent email I needed to reply, the website I needed to put finishing touches to and of course a little time to myself so I don’t go crazy.
At the end of each day after all my hard work, I’d have nothing to show for it. I realized that it’s not about working hard but, but working smart. There’s a world of difference between being busy and being productive. Being productive is about how you spend and manage your energy.
I learned to reduce the amount of time I spent working and improved my productivity by replacing some bad habits with good ones.
Things You Need To Stop Doing To Be More Productive
Here are a few things you need to stop doing to be more productive;
1. Trying to Do Everything at Once
When I started out, I wanted to do everything. I wanted to do front end and back end web development. I wanted to be a mobile app developer. Then I started learning digital marketing. I wanted it all. But I barely had time for myself and I wasn’t really good at anything.
You know what they say, jack of all trades, master of none. So, I decided to focus on just one thing; being a digital marketer.
Trying to do everything is not ambition, it’s indecision. If you want to be an expert on something, you have to learn to say no to other opportunities, at least for now.
Even though Rihanna has her own make-up line – Fenty Beauty – now, she focused all her energy on becoming the top music star in her niche.
Become the best in one area and then branch out later.
2. Stop Working Overtime
In 1926, Henry Ford conducted an experiment on productivity with these results; when you decrease your daily working hours from 10 to 8, and shorten the work week from 6 days to 5, your productivity increases.
The more you work, the less productive you are going to be over time. The greats like Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Rockefeller, Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt among others took naps daily to boost their productivity.
Personally, since I started working less and sleeping more, I’ve been more active and have gotten a lot more done. Who knew sleeping was such a great tool for entrepreneurs?
3. Stop Micromanaging Everything
If you want something done, you do it yourself, right? WRONG.
I know it hurts to let some people have a certain extent of decision making power. Loosen the reins so they don’t feel smothered and dissatisfied with their work.
You’ll see that you accomplish more when you learn to trust other people to carry out tasks.
4. Stop Being a Perfectionist
One time, I was supposed to run an ad campaign for a client and we were on a deadline but I didn’t like what the graphics guy did so I told him to redo it and we had to push the deadline. He came to me later and asked; “wouldn’t it be better if we stick to the deadline and just push what we have?”
Because of the delay we couldn’t run the ad anymore because it was tied to a certain holiday.
That question keeps ringing in my head everyday.
Being a perfectionist decreases productivity because you spend more time on a required task. You tend to procrastinate and wait for the perfect moment but in business, if it’s the perfect moment, it’s probably too late.
You might think you are not ready ye but when we wait for the perfect time, we miss it.
THE PERFECT TIME IS NOW.
5. Start Automating Your Tasks
Every Sunday, I gather content for my blog and social media; blog topics, quotes, pictures etc. Then I use Hootsuite to bulk schedule the ones for social media and WordPress for my blog. While this used to take a chunk of my time each day because I have to produce content everyday, it now takes about 4 hours every week.
Time is money. Automating these posts has saved me a chunk of time, I used to develop content everyday and then post it but I’m wiser now. We usually do things manually because it’s easier and requires no research. At Apptivities, we can take this task off your hands by generating relevant content and automating it for you.
6. Be Prepared, Always
I’m more of a go with the flow kind of person. I didn’t used to prepare for anything. When I had meetings with clients, I’d go in without practicing what I’d say to them. One day changed everything for me.
I was to meet a potential client about developing a website for her and managing her social media. What I thought was going to be a conversation (because that’s how all my previous meetings had normally gone) turned out to be a presentation. I had to stand in a room full of people and give them the benefits of going digital.
This is something I know even in my sleep but I fumbled a lot because I didn’t expect the crowd. Was a very embarrasing experience and needless to say, I didn’t get the job.
Now, I prepare for everything. Every kind of scenario possible. Once a week, my colleague and I have mock interviews and presentations and we correct each other on any mistakes either of us make. Doing this keeps me organized and calm, even when things get hectic.
High achieving people are proactive, rather than reactive. If you want to excel, practice instead.
7. Take Some Time to Relax
So many people pride themselves in the fact that they work non stop with out any break. Creatives often need time to relax in order to recharge and explore.
Giving yourself some alone time helps your brain relax. You can use it to reflect on obstacles and see them from a different perspective. Use the time for reflection and find out ways to optimize your energy. We often find solutions when we are not looking for them.
8. Stop Skipping Meals
Skipping meals lowers your energy and concentration levels, so that you get less work done for each hour you put in. It also leads to increased cravings for foods that are quick fixes, like junk food and sweets.
Prepare your food ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about.
To be more productive, you have to put in the work. Learn about your body and find ways to optimize your energy for a more successsful life. I always say, things don’t happen to us, we happen to things. Being productive won’t happen to you of you just sit there and wait for it.
What are the ways you have found to increase productivity. Mention them in the comment section.
Also published on Medium.