The Secret to Productivity in 8 Easy Steps

 

Are you…

Overwhelmed…

Decision-fatigued…

Lacking results…

in your business?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these symptoms you may be experiencing a lack of productivity in your daily routine. And you are definitely suffering from repeated bad habits so take several seats and calm down.

Environment is Everything

Say you filled up your kitchen with chocolate chip cookies, See’s chocolates, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, pumpkin nut muffins and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. How many hours would you last before you gave in and had just a small sweet treat?

Hours? Ok, minutes. How many?

Now, say your kitchen stayed stocked with all those goodies. Every. Day. What would your meals start to look like day after day?

What would you grab when you needed some fuel to keep working on that boring marketing funnel for the next 4 hours?

When you come home from work tired, drained and decision-fatigued how many nights would it be before you were having a bowl of ice cream for dinner?

Willpower’s got nothing over environment. That’s why we don’t keep a candy store in our houses. Well, most of us anyway. I don’t. Moving on.

So why keep bad habits in your office?

Multi-tasking.

Working long hours with no breaks.

Getting interrupted every 10 minutes.

Putting yourself in a position in your company where everyone is coming to you to make decisions about their urgent situations.

These are all bad habits for entrepreneurs.

And they are all like the sweets you don’t keep in your house. And I’m not talking about the emergency dark chocolate bar you have taped to the back of the toilet for, uh, emergencies. Everyone’s got that right?? No? Hmm yeah neither do I. Anyhoo…

Let’s create a new environment. Let’s redesign and redecorate your office with some awesome strategies that will soon become your new habits.

When you’ve thrown out your old habits and you’ve created an environment that supports your productivity you will no longer need to grip the wheel of willpower to try to get sh*t done.

It will be much easier to get into flow.

Your company’s growth will accelerate.

You will feel pushed from behind rather than rolling a boulder up hill.

You will be riding on tailwinds not pounding against headwinds. Etc. Etc.

1. From Multitasking to Monotasking

So multitasking. It’s not a thing. Stop telling yourself you’re good at it. Cause you’re not. It’s an outdated myth.

What you do is switch-tasking. And switch-tasking is also not cool unless you are simultaneously washing and drying dishes.

Listening to a podcast while writing, say, a blog post, doesn’t work. Trust me. What also doesn’t work? Writing said blog post while checking Twitter and responding to your colleagues on Slack.

When it’s time to do an important task for your business turn off all notifications and set a timer. I use Prime Time hours which are blocks of time reserved for focused attention like writing a post or creating a funnel.

Sounds boring but using mono-tasking without any interruptions for a finite amount of time will accelerate your productivity.

I set a timer, turn off all distractions and work for a short period of time. Working like this has increased my productivity more than anything else I’ve tried. Give it a whirl and see what happens.

2. Work in Sprints, Not Marathons

What I described above: short bursts of time while using a timer is what I call Prime Time Hours

Related Post: Closely Guarded Secrets of Productivity
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Prime Time hours allow you to work in spurts of time. You set a timer for say, 20, 30 or 50 minutes, and then you work for that amount of time and take a small break when the timer goes off.

Working in long stretches of time is not what we’re designed to do. We’re designed to work in bursts of time with plenty of rest time in between. We’re designed for sprints not marathons.

I’ve adopted my habit from the Pomodoro Technique. This technique is a wonderful way to boost your attention and accomplish the nitty gritty tasks of your work day.

Small breaks from an ongoing task ? make you better able to focus and sustain attention. So if you’ve got to write a chapter of your book, or work on your marketing plan using Prime Time hours and setting a timer will help you get the job done.

3. Just Say ‘No’ To Interruptions

In addition to your Prime Time hours, make sure you create an environment that reduces interruptions during your sprint work. Hang a sign on your door, wear noise-cancelling headphones, use a white-noise machine, turn off your phone and notifications on your computer.

Do whatever it takes to limit interruptions. You can also train your co-workers or family members (if you work from home) that these are sacred hours. These are the hours that will grow the company and bring home the bacon.

Keep in mind that you’re only working in 20, 30 or 50 minute sprints of time. Once the timer goes off then you can check your mobile or Twitter feed or hug your kid.

Interruptions erode willpower and drain your energy for the task at hand. How many times have you been interrupted from a boring or mundane yet important task. And then once the interruption is over you decide, “Meh, maybe I’ll stop for the day.” Or, “I’m so bored I’ll do something else.”

Interruptions throw you off so minimize them to the extent you want a successful business and accelerated growth.

4. Eradicate Decision-Fatigue

When it Comes to Decisions You Have Limited Resources.

Decision-fatigue.

Even if you’ve never heard this expression before you know what it means. You feel it in your bones.

When you end up making too many decisions during the course of your day the quality of those decisions deteriorates. This happens because your brain can only process so much info at one time.

According to psychologist Roy Baumeister, decision-making uses the same energy source in the brain as self-control. Specifically he found that the quality of decisions changed if people had exerted self-control in other areas throughout their day.

When you limit the amount of decisions you make in a day the quality of your decisions improves because you haven’t used up all of your self-control.

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So limit the amount of decisions you need to make in a day and make your most important decisions in the morning when you have fresh reserves of willpower. Delegate minor decisions to other team members or save them for later in the day.

5. Identify Your 3 Priorities

“If you have more than 3 priorities you don’t have any.” 

                                                                                    —Jim Collins

Along with limiting your decisions, limit your priorities. Same idea, when you give yourself too many priorities you give yourself too much to focus on and your ability to decide on those priorities deteriorates.

Now I’m not talking about for your entire life. You have different priorities in different areas of your life.

Try limiting your priorities to three in each area of your life: 3 priorities in your business; 3 priorities for your family; 3 priorities for your personal growth plan. See what I mean? And these priorities can be for each area of your business, for instance:

  • The top three goals you want to achieve in your business in the next year

  • The 3 areas of focus you need to accomplish over the next week

  • The 3 big activities you need to achieve today

  • Focusing attention on any weaknesses in the chain

Each priority might have many tasks associated with it to achieve it. That’s ok. As long as your goals or priorities are clear you can focus on the tasks that will achieve each priority.

I may have a list of 3 priorities but in order to accomplish them I have a To-Do list of 20 tasks.

That’s ok. Whatever I don’t finish in a day I roll it over to the next day and my 3 priorities remain the same until they’re completed.

6. Write Your ‘Don’t Do’ List

You’ve created 3 priorities. Now take 3 things off your plate.

Write a list of all the things you are not going to do. Sounds simplistic. But writing down what you are NOT going to do is powerful. You can delegate those tasks to colleagues or discard them all together.

That list will help you remember to stay focused on what you want to achieve that day.

Business guru Jim Collins says for each priority decide what to take off your plate. Decide where you’re NOT going to put your focus. Limit your focus and you will hoard your willpower and self-control for all the important stuff.

7. Learn To Say ‘No’

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”                                                                                                                                                                                                      —Warren Buffett

Are you addicted to ‘yes’ as an entrepreneur? Do you have a hard time saying ‘no’ to people? Your ability to say ‘no’ is a determiner of your success.

If you are able to say ‘no’ to people and stay focused on your own priorities you will achieve more faster.

This pushes a lot of buttons for people.

“Do I say ‘no’ to my customers?”

“How do people rely on me if I say ‘no’ to them?”

“I don’t want to appear selfish to my colleagues, or business partner.”

Those are all valid concerns. But listen, being a successful entrepreneur, owning a successful company, is work. You cannot drain your energy by saying ‘yes’ to every request, offer and opportunity that comes your way.

That’s impossible.

All of these strategies are designed to LIMIT your focus, not increase it. When you limit your focus you get results. Period.

A strategic ‘No’ will protect your willpower and energy reserves. It will also help you stay focused on what’s important, not simply what’s urgent.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Eisenhower Principle. It’s an easy tool to figure out what is important to your business and what’s not; what can wait and what needs to be done right now; and what you can do and what you can delegate to others to do.

Related Post: Closely Guarded Secrets of Productivity
Related Post: Do You Suffer From Email Overwhelm?
Related Post: 7 Ways to Beat the Boredom of Company Meetings

8. Plan Your Day The Day Before

Finally, and this is super easy: plan your day the day before. Set aside 5 -10 minutes at the end of your workday to plan out tomorrow.

You will arrive at your desk knowing exactly where to put your focus and begin. You will begin each day protecting your finite decision-making and willpower resources.

When you do that you won’t have a morning spent in frayed focus checking your email and replying to Twitter gremlins.

Be a selfish, hoarder of your time, focus and willpower.

When you do that you that you will start to see exponential growth in yourself, your environment and your business.

The Wrap Up

These 8 strategies are designed to help you accelerate growth in your business not just in your productivity. They are targeted tools that allow you to focus on what really moves the needle in your success.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”                                                                                                                                                                               ― Buckminster Fuller

And all of these strategies do one other incredibly important thing. They help you preserve your willpower.

Your environment is EVERYTHING.

Your environment determines your success or failure. Your environment either strengthens your willpower and self-control or it weakens it.

Why not create a work environment that strengthens you as a leader, as an entrepreneur and as a person? Learn to groom your environment so that it actually supports you and cultivates your success.

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