Let’s talk about distractions and productivity. About getting our heads out of our phones and into our work. About how to meet deadlines. When you’re launching a business—or even just juggling daily tasks and responsibilities—it’s easy to get distracted or lose momentum!
1. Remove Distractions
Did you know that the average American checks social media 17 times a day? And did you know that when people get distracted from a detail-oriented task, it usually takes them about 20 minutes to refocus? All this is to say: You’ll make your life easier and more productive if you actively remove distractions. Delete social media from your phone. Download an app like Anti-Social or Cold Turkey, and block yourself from time-sucking websites. Clear your workspace of the magazines you haven’t read and the bills you haven’t paid. Unplug the Internet or go work somewhere that doesn’t have wifi. (I’m fairly sure places like that still exist!).
2. Be Realistic About How Long Things Take
“Sure!” we tell ourselves, “I can write a 1,000-word blog post in an hour.” Three hours later, we’re still fiddling with the introduction and looking for the perfect photo, mired in guilt and disappointment. A good rule of thumb: double—at a minimum!—the amount of time you think something will take. If you think you can write a book proposal in a week, block off two weeks in your calendar. If you estimate that it’ll take two hours to edit those photos, allot four. If you discover that you’re finished earlier than expected, it’s a pleasant surprise! And if not, at least you’ve made space on your calendar. If you’re interested in a more systematic (and accountable) approach, download a time tracking app like Toggl. You can drag it into your menu bar and click it on and off as you work through tasks. When you’re finished, it’ll tell you how long you spent working; it even makes pie charts!
3. Create or Fine-Tune Your Systems
Here’s something I’ve learned from being self-employed: the actual work you do—the writing, coding, designing, or photographing—is only a small part of your job. There’s so, so much more to running your own business. You’ll have to send invoices, pay contractors, schedule calls, meetings, and consultations, review things, edit things, and coordinate all of your marketing. It can be totally overwhelming. You’ll have a lot more time and energy if you create systems for as many things as you can in your life. Write email responses for your most common inquiries; schedule emails to previous and potential clients; and set up automatic PayPal payments.
4. Figure out Where Your Traffic/Money/Inquiries Are Coming From
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? 80% of your business comes from 20% of your work? This holds true for your marketing and promotional efforts, too! Are most of your clients coming through word-of-mouth referrals? What’s your biggest traffic referrer? Do you get lots of responses when you send out your email newsletters? Set aside some time to crack open your analytics, bank account, and emails to find out where your business is coming from. Once you know, you can do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.
5. Remind Yourself of Your Goals
Working hard toward you dreams can be exhausting, and it’s not always easy to maintain your momentum. Stay inspired by making your dreams and goals highly visible. First, get a little cute: Write (or find) a mantra that resonates with you and make it the wallpaper on your phone and laptop. If you’re working toward a vacation, a dream home, or a new car, print out a photo of that gorgeous, inspiring thing and hang it near your desk. Making our dreams visible inspires us when we’re feeling tired or burned out.
6. When in Doubt, Refer Back to the Plan
Last week, I shared my beloved, effective 5×5 planning tool. I asked you to map out five big goals for the coming year, and break down each of those five goals into five steps. Whenever I’m struggling, adrift, or unsure about an opportunity, I weigh it against my 5×5 Plan. I ask myself, Is this contributing to the 25 things I really want to focus on? Is it getting me closer to any of these milestones? If the answer is no, I usually decline the request or opportunity.
- Productivity is an art, not a science.
- No matter what, we’ll all have days when we fall into a Netflix hole and emerge with a headache and a full inbox.
- When the inevitable happens, be gentle with yourself, take a look at the list above, and recommit yourself to your dream.
My job gives me purpose and I am passionate about it. I love to be exceptionally busy and the excitement and deadlines thrill me. In fact, when my work load is reduced, I am actually less productive. Sure, I can become a bit short tempered after long sessions of stress but, the truth is, the busier I am and the harder I work, the happier I am.
- When my body screams at me for a break I contemplate stepping back for a bit to recharge.
- After my quick recharge I am raring to go again and my adrenalin pumps happily.
- I therefore loved this article as I could so relate to it.
I am sure that not all people will agree with the contents written below but for me, it certainly rings true.
Why Hardworking Is Good
Apparently, being overworked isn’t incompatible with being happy at work. But be careful, taking on more than you can handle could still lead to problems
Are you overworked, yet happy at work? If so, you’re not alone. Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, released a new survey today that shows that Americans are both overworked and happy. Confused?
Fifty-three percent of Americans feel overwhelmed at work, but 86 percent are still happy and motivated. Why are those numbers not compatible? It seems that working hard can help towards happiness. Too much free time can make you bored and unmotivated.Fifty-three percent of Americans feel overwhelmed at work, but 86 percent are still happy and motivated. Click To Tweet
Have you ever had a job where you had too little to do? It’s incredibly tedious to have to sit at a desk with nothing to do, pretending to be busy. When you’re overworked, you have a lot going on all the time, and you’re constantly engaged.
But don’t take that to mean that overworking your employees can make them happier. Burnout still happens, and too much work can lead to that.
Here is what else is going on in the American work force:
Longer Days And Constant Connection
About 25 percent of employees regularly work into the evening, and 40 percent work on weekends at least once a month. Just under 50 percent eat lunch at their desks.
What does this mean? You’re never away from work. Of course, our current technology allows for that. I carry my work email in my pocket at all time, and so do many of you. I can choose to ignore it, of course, but like most people, I read every email that comes in, whether or not I respond over the weekend.Almost everyone agrees that working longer hours is the key to promotion. Click To Tweet
Thirty-five percent of people feel like they are “always on” because they didn’t have the time to get everything done during the workday. Only 22 percent work into the evening to get on top of things for the next day. But almost everyone agrees that working longer hours is the key to promotion–nearly two-thirds of employees see themselves in a manager role in the next five years. Working hard is the key.
Burnout Is Driving Your Employees Out
While your employees may be willing to work these long hours and constantly stay in touch, the survey found that burnout is still a huge motivator for finding a new job–40 percent of employees say that burnout leads them to job hunt.
Managers can strongly decrease the amount of employee burnout by adjusting their workloads. Fifty-three percent of respondents said that workload was a big culprit in burnout, followed by personal pressure (41 percent) and time pressure (40 percent). As a manager, you can’t stop people from putting pressure on themselves, but you can control their workload and give reasonable deadlines.
All this pressure doesn’t even benefit the company, as 66 percent say that burning out erodes their productivity. So, everyone may be working hard, but it’s hardly working for the company’s success.
Too Much Information
About half of respondents said they receive too many emails, with one-third of those saying that this email overload hurts productivity. Twenty percent of employees spend more than two hours a day in meetings. These two things alone can lead to feelings of burnout and being overworked. How can you get things done when you’re constantly bombarded by information–either electronically or in meetings?
Fixing The Problem
The Staples survey says that employees believe a “distraction-free environment” would increase productivity by 20 to 30 percent. What’s the biggest distraction? Loud co-workers. This seems like another argument for telecommuting, at least part time. When you’re all alone at home, you can get things done that are impossible in the cubicle farm of the office.
Employees also think that flexibility (35 percent), more breaks (33 percent), and improved technology (28 percent) could help reduce burnout.
If you also want to increase happiness, and not just decrease burnout, the surveyed employees suggest better perks (34 percent) and better office design (12 percent).
Burnout happens, but managers can reduce it by paying attention to what their employees want and need.
Courtesy of Marie Claire
Yours in Personnel Bridget Jones