“Today, I’m going to be productive and get everything done!”
We all have those days when we wake up full of good intentions but end up not doing half of what we had in mind. I concede that there are more distractions when your household is also your workplace, however, there are many tricks to help you be more effective.
Where does the shoe pinch? What is your biggest source of trouble? It’s important for you to know the problem in order to find the adequate solution for it.
Let’s identify 5 common mistakes that deplete the peak energy hours of your mornings.
1. You don’t prepare the day before
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” said Benjamin Franklin.
It’s the day before that you should:
- Clean up the House
Your mind will wander between what you are trying to do in the moment versus all the other things that you have to do. You might feel overwhelmed and you will be tempted to complete your household chores. So take the time to tidy up the place.
- Read your non-work related emails, your apps notifications and the news
Did you know that the internet has ‘narcotic-like properties’? The author of Hooked, Nir Eyal explains that we see something interesting online (trigger), we scroll down (action), we don’t know if we’re going to see something else we like or not (variable reward), finally when there is a positive upshot, we like, comment or share (investment). And we restart because we want that positive outcome again. It’s like gambling with a slot machine. And if you’re like me, you can’t bear to see some unread notifications on your phone. Let’s not get into that addictive cycle and read the emails of the day towards the end of the day.
- Prepare your meals
If you’re hungry, you won’t focus. All your mental energies will be directed towards the search of sustenance and nutrition. It’s our most basic instinct. It’s okay if you cook breakfast, but have your lunch and your snacks ready. Don’t interrupt your workflow to cook.
- Make a working plan
Write your to-do list down. Give it time to sink into your brain during the night and visualize your next day as a productive one.
2. You don’t know where to start
As mentioned above, you need to articulate a clear and realistic working plan for the next day. When you sit at your desk, it should be a no-brainer to read your plan and execute it. I recommend the “Chase Jarvis’ 90-minute block schedule” technique:
- Work for 90 minutes and chose one specific task to accomplish. Keep your phone on airplane mode during this time. You don’t have to be available for everyone. It’s time for your business. Don’t hesitate to let people around you know that you are at work so you’re not available.
- Take a 30-minute break during which you can do anything you want. Go get a coffee, check your Facebook, read, you can even take a power nap.
- Restart. Work for a 90-minute period once or twice more. Set a stopwatch.
- Take a long lunch (2h) during which you can eat well, get comfortable, talk to your friends, etc.
- Finish your work day with a final block 90-minute block of work.Make a routine of it. Every night, choose 3 or 4 tasks to do for the next day (not more) and tackle them one at the time. Don’t get distracted. If you think of anything else that should be done, write them down or put them on your Trello’s actions list and get them on the next day’s schedule.I mean it when I say that you should precisely clock your working blocks. This feeling of urgency can help you stop procrastinating and get things done.Finally, enjoy your evenings as you please. This schedule is perfect to avoid mixing family life and business.
3. You don’t master your sleep
I can’t believe how sleep is undervalued in our society.
Mostly, when we work our own hours, we tend to have irregular schedules because we allow it. Just because we can, we’ll sleep late, wake up early and sometimes catch up on sleep in the middle of the day. We go ahead and sacrifice 1 or 2 hours of sleep to get more done, but this is counter-productive as when we lack rest, we function sub-optimally.
Dallas Hartwig, a New York Times bestselling author wrote in the Journal of Nutrition and Athletic Excellence : “It’s been found that with acute sleep deprivation for only 1-2 nights, the deterioration in quantifiable psychomotor performance correlates highly with self -rated perceptions of fatigue and daytime sleepiness. (Meaning, after a night or two of virtually no sleep, you’re well aware that you’re not performing at your best.) However, when compared to a milder, chronic sleep deficit (defined by researchers as 6 hours per night), the psychomotor performance deterioration is similar, but the perception of those deficits is significantly reduced. So while you think you’re doing just fine on 6 hours of sleep a night, you definitively are not. And I know plenty of people who survive on less sleep than that – survive, but not thrive.”
I’ve been using Sleep Cycle for the past month and I like to be able to see a graph with nice peaks about 90 minutes apart. When this happens, it shows that I had a regular sleep cycle. The app uses sound analysis to identify your sleep states by tracking your movements in bed. It records your sleep patterns and wakes you up during light sleep. This way, you can arise well rested and refreshed.
You can identify your own trends.
Do you consume alcohol? Drink coffee, tea or eat right before bed? What do you do during the day? Does it help you to exercise? It’s up to you to see what helps you sleep better and improve from there.
4. You don’t kickstart your day
Think of yourself on a lazy Sunday: You snooze, you oversleep and you stay in your PJ’s. There is so much room here for your productivity to decrease.
Now imagine a weekday on a 9 to 5 job: you wake up, take a shower, probably go to the gym and you get to work. You activate your system, you oxygenate your brain and get your blood flow going.
For entrepreneurs who work from home, the problem is that since there’s little to no activity between the time of awakening and the time to get to work (there’s no commute, etc.) the start is slow and time is easily wasted. We tell ourselves that we have all day.
As you are your own boss – or aspiring to be – you should discipline yourself.
Experts on embodied cognition say that when we put on certain clothes, we might more readily take on a role, and that might affect our basic abilities.
So get up, get dressed, get proper nutrition, stay hydrated and get out to a coffee shop, a shared working space or the library. Let vitamin D boost your work productivity.
5. You don’t leverage
It’s not because you’re self-employed that you have to know it all and do it all by yourself.
You can also use other people’s time and other people’s skills.
- Friends and family
I have my friends proofread when I write content. They do a much better job than me at catching details, and it liberates time for me to do other important tasks. Similarly, you can ask your life partner to help you with the cooking and your teenager can assist you with some deliveries. Delegate and don’t take ownership of every household chores or personal obligations on top of your business responsibilities.
Take a minute to think about your network and about how your business can benefit from their time and their skills.
- Colleagues, partners, and employees
It’s important to divide the workload in a way that everyone’s talent is taken into consideration. Go with each one’s ability. It’s more efficient to leave marketing to marketers and to leave accounting for accountants. The job will be done better in less time.
Also, if your business has reached a certain level of growth, it might be a good time to consider hiring a student part time.
Pre-write your emails and let Boomerang send them for you. Use Buffer to automatically publish your social media articles for you. Be inspired by the 16 Productivity Apps Used By Shopify. Check out The Top 20 Most Popular Free Apps in the Shopify App Store.
Well, if you use your creativity and if you have the right tools, you can use time to maximum advantage and accelerate results.
Let me know what you think about these techniques to improve productivity.
I’d love to know what your biggest obstacles are and how you go about solving them.