Simple Routines and Boundaries for a More Productive Day
Distractions, interruptions, notifications, and a lack of planning all tug at our time and make us feel less productive than we know we are capable of. If you’re like me, you sit at your desk most of the day and are sometimes left wondering why you didn’t get more done. I feel you, girlfriend! That’s why, today, we are talking about a few tips and tricks that can help you with focus, productivity and feeling more in control of your day.
It seems a lot of people are talking about Morning routines. Miracle Morning, Five Minute Journal, Meditation…. there are so many approaches, tactics and methods. There has been much study on how an intentional morning routine can dramatically improve your productivity and your mood. But I hear you saying: "With my partner, my kids, my dog, [insert other person or animal ;)] around, my mornings are unpredictable. I don’t see how it would be possible to create a consistent morning routine.” I get it. I like to think of it like this: is there one or two things you can make time for when you wake? Is there something you can take OUT of your morning that often causes you to start your day off feeling crazed? Can you wake up 30 minutes earlier to take time for yourself? It could be as simple as having a cup of coffee in silence, not - I REPEAT NOT - checking your phone first thing when your eyes open (email, social, notifications, etc.). Start your day in control. This is what a morning routine is about. Pick just one or two things that you can do for yourself, and start your day intentionally. Really, it doesn’t matter what you pick. You don’t have do dive into someone else’s method, you just have to find what works for you.
Do.Not.Disturb. If you work from home and have other people in your household present during the hours you usually work, how do you manage interruptions? I recommend establishing some clear boundaries here, if you’re able. Of course, if you’re a mama with no child care, this can prove difficult -- and you’re likely already fitting in more intensive chunks of work where you can. But for those who either don’t have kids, have in-home childcare, or have other people in the house while you’re working, my question for you is: can you set up specific times during the day that you should not be interrupted unless it is an emergency? Can you place a sign that reads "Please Do Not Disturb" on your office door (or door-less entry to your office space, as is the case for me!) during times when you want to focus solely on work? Consider a closed door policy when you don’t want to be interrupted. No matter what parameters you set in place, make sure everyone knows them and respects them as much as is possible.
Batching tasks is far more productive than toggling back and forth between multiple things, or constantly coming back to tasks at random. Find places where you can batch day to day business activities. This works especially well for recurring tasks like social media graphics, blog writing, writing email newsletters, invoicing, etc. Even the small amount of time it takes to open a new program and get in a “groove” or “flow” to complete tasks adds up. When you have to turn your brain on and off to different things - it takes time. When you do several of the same things in one sitting, you’re not only more using your time more effectively, but you’re likely to be more productive on that task and free up more creative energy to complete it.
Now consider taking this one step further. Assigning certain DAYS to batch said tasks. I’m not talking about traditional time blocking… well, most people either LOVE or HATE time blocking and I don’t want to get into that battle. 😉 I’m talking about something a little more general. Assign days of the week when you will do certain tasks or like-activities. For example, if you’re taking phone calls for clients every single day of the week - you’re constantly toggling between multiple different things. How many times have you tried to get something done in a short 30 minute window between phone calls? It doesn’t usually work well, right?!
Examples for task blocking your days could be: Mondays for important client projects, phone calls only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, activities for YOUR business development on Wednesdays, Fridays for bookkeeping and scheduling social media for the next week, etc. This way you aren’t trying to squeeze in your own business’s activities in between phone calls or projects and never really make any headway…speaking from experience here! If you focus on keeping your day’s activities consistent, you’ll be able to be more productive. So… where and when in your business can you find tasks that can be batched together?
We’re talking about focused time without digital distractions. How often are you distracted by social media notifications, only to find yourself an hour later scrolling Instagram stories or your Facebook feed instead of the project you sat down to do? Or, you get an email notification, so you open up email and all of a sudden you are working out of your inbox. Everyone should be raising their hands! Solution? Set up distraction free periods of time to focus and stick to them. These are times when you put your phone out of reach and on silent, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Pinterest, no Twitter, NOTHING but the task at hand. You close (okay, fine, minimize!) all browser windows, including email (inbox pause, please!!) and… again...you are not allowed to pick up your phone.
Put your head down for 45-60 minutes (longer if needed), and commit to doing only that one thing — you will be far more efficient and complete that task in far less time than if your attention is constantly being diverted. This boundary might just be the MOST beneficial.
Eliminating distractions is hands down the best way to more productive. So, find ways to implement boundaries and routines, and you WILL set yourself up for success. A little self discipline goes a long way!
If you are struggling with time management or productivity and need help figuring out what might work for YOU, head on over to askcindyco.com and schedule a free chat today!
Cindy Maka // Business manager
Cindy Maka is a business manager for small business owners and creative entrepreneurs. With nearly 20 years of experience in business management and administrative support for big businesses, she started AskCindy Co. with a passion for helping female entrepreneurs beat overwhelm and help their businesses thrive. Cindy specializes in time management, workflow, organization and creating healthy working habits. Her mission is to be a true partner for small business owners so they can feel supported AND successful!