Being a creative entrepreneur is challenging! Your to-do list is long, and there are distractions everywhere just waiting to derail you. But there are things you can do to stay on track. In today’s post, I’m sharing my favorite tips for a more productive work day, so that you can get more done in less time and with less stress!
6 Tips for a More Productive Work Day
I discovered (or re-discovered) these tips for a more productive work day while revamping my daily schedule.
After months without making ANY inroads on my ever-growing to-do list and a less than ideal level of productivity, I decided it was time to revamp my processes and my daily schedule. It has been a trying process that included a couple of breakdowns (me huddled in the corner crying and mumbling that I just couldn’t do it), more than a few tears (see the previous item), and a whole lot of frustration (the hair pulling kind).
But I came out with more effective processes, a workable schedule, and with these tips for a more productive work day. I’m so excited to share them with you so that, hopefully, you can avoid the breakdowns and hair pulling and boost your productivity! 😉
Get Current with a Mind Clearing Brain Dump
Typically when I start feeling frustrated with my daily schedule and lack of productivity, I’m already deep in overwhelm. I’ve found that the best way to dig out and regain a sense of control over my business (and my life) is to complete a mind clearing brain dump.
To complete a brain dump, set a timer for 15 minutes (you can add more time, if necessary). Grab a notepad and a writing utensil. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy: a piece of notebook paper, scratch paper, a spiral notebook, a composition notebook….
* When I first started using this technique, I used scratch paper, expecting to toss my brain dump once I was finished with it. I’ve since started completing all of my brain dumps in my bullet journal, so that I have access to my past lists and any items on them that are yet to be completed.
Start the timer and write down any to-do’s that come to mind. Write fast and write furiously. Get all the things out of your brain and down on that paper. Clear your mind. Don’t filter yourself. Just write!
* You can complete one brain dump session that encompasses your whole life or several different sessions that are focused on areas of your life, like business, home, or family.
Completing regular brain dumps is actually how I realized that I needed to revamp my schedule as “refine daily schedule” popped up in my brain dump several different times!
Once you’ve completed your brain dump, go back through your list and prioritize the items on it. Which are important, urgent, and need to be addressed right away? Can any of the items can be completed at a later time? Which tasks are vital to your most important goals?
Add any immediate action tasks to your to-do list for the week.
Keep this list handy throughout the week and add any tasks that pop into your brain!
For a list of mind-jogging questions that you can use in conjunction with your brain dump, to learn more about how I use brain dumps, and to see how I prepare for each week, check out this post: 6 Things To Do on Sunday for the Best Work Week Ever!
Determine Your Most and Least Productive Times of Day
I find I’m much more productive at certain times of the day, and I definitely want to use that time to make progress on my top goals and tasks.
When is your most productive time of day? Morning? Afternoon? Evening?
What is your least productive time of day?
If you’re not sure, take a few days and track your energy cycle. When are you awake, focused, productive, and motivated? And when are you tired and desperately craving a nap?
Once you determine how your energy ebbs and flows during the day, you can use that information to better schedule your time. Use your peak energy hours to focus on your highest priority goals and tasks. Save more routine, monotonous tasks for your lower energy hours.
After tracking my energy cycles for a couple of weeks, I found that my most productive time of day is from about 7 am to 10 am, and my least productive time of day is right after lunch when all I want to do is binge-watch Netflix or you guessed it, take a nap. Because my top goal is building my blog, I work on it first thing in the morning!
Time Block Top Goals
Time blocking is an effective time management technique, and I recommend that you experiment with using it to schedule your entire day. But what I’ve found absolutely crucial to my productivity is to build power blocks into my schedule where I focus solely on one high return or high importance task for the entire block.
I use power blocks for writing blog posts, drafting email newsletters, taking educational courses, and researching and completing projects.
The length of time you schedule for your power block is your choice:
- Some people work well with 25 minute blocks and a 5 minute break.
- Others are most effective with 45 minute blocks and 15 minute breaks.
- And certain people can maintain focus for 90 minutes with a 30 minute break.
- I occasionally adjust the length of my power block based on the task I’m focusing on.
If you’re not sure, start with 25 minute blocks. Pay attention to your ability to focus during the block. Could you focus for longer? Or is 25 minutes pushing it?
If you are building a business in your off hours, your blocks will likely need to be shorter (25 minutes). You could complete a few 25 minute blocks during the week, but extend those to 45 minutes for a block or two on the weekends, if that works for your focusing skills.
As always, tweak this to make it work for you!
If you’re a blogger struggling to do all the bloggy things with limited time and feeling seriously overwhelmed, I HIGHLY recommend The 10-Hour Time Block Strategy Guide from Rosemarie Groner of The Busy Budgeter! This tool revolutionized how I organize and tackle my blogging tasks. It inspired portions of this post, as well. This is the best money I’ve spent on my blog in a long time!
Tips for Finding Your Focus
The key to making these power blocks work is focus!
Here are a few focus-supporting recommendations:
- Close all browser windows except for the one you’re using.
- Turn your phone or your ringer off.
- Listen to music (if it’s not distracting for you).
- Improve your focus by chewing gum.
- Use a timer, so that you don’t have to keep checking the clock.
- Establish a goal for each time block (more details below)
- Turn off any and all push notifications for the entire time block.
*Recent research indicates that each time we’re interrupted by a push notification, it takes us 23 minutes to regain our focus and get back on task. That’s A LOT of wasted time!
Freedom is a desktop and iOS app that allows you to block not only push notifications, but also access to the internet! I had it on an older computer and used it all. the. time. I just recently re-discovered it and can’t wait to put it back on my computer.
Build power blocks into your schedule to make progress on your top goals, and play around with the time blocking technique. Tweak it until your find your time block sweet spot!
There’s a printable for that! Snag your very own copy of this time blocking printable and use it to plan your day and build in power blocks!
Clearly Identify a Goal for Each Time Block
Before you start your timer for a time block, identify a realistic goal for it. What do you want to accomplish during your 25 minutes (or 45 or 90 minutes)?
- Research a project?
- Finish up that blog post you’ve been writing?
- Update your business financials?
- Compose that email requesting a collaboration?
- Complete the homework assignment from the course you’ve been taking?
Use that goal to help you maintain your focus and really push to achieve that objective!
Clearly defining what you want to accomplish in your time block helps you to focus, to be more productive, and to establish how long tasks take you to complete (making you more effective at time blocking and scheduling your day)!
Establish Habits and Routines
Habits and routines are tasks or groups of tasks that you complete without thinking. They’re automatic and help us to do what must be done without the internal fighting that creates stress, frustration, and wasted time and energy.
Pick one task or series of tasks that you complete on a regular basis and complete them daily until they become automatic. The more you can do this with your business, the more productive you’ll be!
Here’s a FREE Habit Tracking Printable that you can use while working to establish your habits!
Get tips for creating routines in this post: Build Strong and Lasting Business Routines.
Use Rewards Strategically
If you’ve been reacting to whatever task is in front of you or working without much structure, holding yourself to a schedule and boosting your productivity could be a challenging transition.
When I started working my business at home, I was fine for the first couple of weeks when my little baby business still felt new and exciting. But once that wore off and the real work kicked in, I hit a wall and hit it hard. I procrastinated with cleaning, for goodness’ sake (I thoroughly dislike cleaning and housework)!
But by applying the tips above and rewarding myself strategically, I was able to break through and boost my productivity significantly.
A few ideas to get you thinking:
- Set a timer, work until it goes off, then reward yourself with 10 minutes of sunshine and relaxation on the back patio.
- Complete a particularly annoying task, then reward yourself with a walk in the park.
- Work through your entire morning work routine, then enjoy a cup of tea and read a good book for 15 minutes.
- Complete 2 time blocks, then take a break.
Use rewards strategically to train yourself to implement the tips above and to boost your productivity!
These tips for a more productive work day helped me to establish effective routines and a workable schedule. If you apply them to your work day, they’ll help you to avoid ever-present distractions and to make progress on your most important goals. You’ll get more done in less time and with less stress!
Don’t forget to pin this post!
If you found today’s post helpful, you might also enjoy these related posts:
- 5 Essential Morning Routine Elements
- How to Write a Better To-Do List (and Actually Get Your To-Do’s Done)
- How to Meet Your Goals Every Time!
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