Looking to increase your work production and reduce wasted time? Man, me too. It seems like no matter how many hours there are in a day, I never quite get everything done. But in my work, I’ve taken advantage of some simple productivity hacks that have massively reduced downtime without too much mental angst. No crazy systems, no elaborate planner trackers, just some tips and common sense that can make a big difference.
Have an Endgame
Before you get going, take a minute to think about your goals. It’s great to be efficient, but if you don’t have a clear destination, it doesn’t really matter how fast you go. If you don’t have a marketing or business strategy lined out, make one! It can be as simple as outlining where you see yourself this time next month.
If you already have a business or marketing strategy, glance over it and remind yourself of your goals: What are you working for? Where are you going? What will it take to get there? Your increased productivity should all be to support the bigger picture. And only focus on those things that will get you there. Remember to stick to the plan.
Know Your Top Priority Items
When you write out your tasks for the day, identify the ‘must-dos’ that need to get done. Give priority to:
- Tasks that move your big-picture goals forward
- Important and long-term clients
- Tasks that will prevent you from getting tomorrow’s work done if you don’t do it today
These are your “rock” tasks that deserve the brunt of your energy, and in an ideal world, if you only got these crucial tasks accomplished, your day would be a success.
My “rock” tasks, for example, include things like creating proposals for my private clients, guiding my team on strategy, and nurturing my community inside of the Savvy Social School.
I like to use Asana to help me with my task management. Each week, I make sure that I've got the important tasks assigned so that I don't get distracted by whatever happens to pop up in my inbox. I also love the fact that I can check things off as I go. There's something satisfying about looking back at a week of completed tasks.
Image via Asana.com
Work in Batches
Arrange your day so you can “batch” your tasks in groupings. The logic here is that it takes mental energy to get into the flow of any type of task. Whether that’s writing or designing or emailing, you get into a good rhythm for that medium, and you’ll be more efficient if you group similar to-dos all at once.
For example, I like to create and schedule my social media content for the week in one sitting, then schedule it in an all-in-one platform like Social Report. By creating all my social media posts in one go, I can stay focused on that tasks, and I do better work in less time than if I chunked it out into bits and pieces throughout the week.
Plus, by using a tool like Social Report, I'm also adding evergreen content to specific “groups” so that the time spent creating the content isn't wasted. I've got my most important pieces of evergreen content (like my blogs, podcasts, and lead magnets) going out at regular intervals automatically.
Put Your Phone on Silent
Sorry to sound like your mom, but ignoring your phone is one of the best things you can do for your productivity. Have you ever been focused in on task only to get yanked out of it by an untimely notification stealing your attention? I know, I know, work emails are rarely as interesting as a Twitter mention, but I promise that your notifications will all still be there waiting for you when you get done with your work. Put your phone on do not disturb and leave it in another room.
Or, better yet, turn off notifications all together! I talked about this in a recent podcast episode but I find that the constant notifications, even when your phone is on silent, takes us away from the task at hand. We see our phone light up with an Instagram or email notification and we want to look at it right away. My best advice is to turn off all notifications so you can focus on the task at hand.
Don’t Be Scared to Delegate
Before you attack your to-do list, are you sure you’re really the best person to be doing all this? Outsourcing your work isn’t just for people with a bunch of direct reports; solopreneurs and individual workers can delegate to freelancers without too much fuss these days, and the time savings can be totally worth the cost.
Data entry, inbox management, and social media marketing can all be outsourced to competent professionals who are happy to take them off your plate. Your time is valuable, and if certain tasks can be handed off, it’s worth it!
And try to think outside of the box for things you can delegate as well. Tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, and housecleaning are tasks we often spend hours a week completing. Perhaps you can outsource some of those tasks so that you can get your time back.
Find Your Big Picture Motivation
I opened this post suggesting you think about where you’re going, and I’m going to close it by reminding you to think about why you started in the first place. Everyone has a “why” that drives them in their work, and if you feel a lack of productivity or focus in your work, you might just need to be reminded of yours.
In 2014, my husband and I started the business that I own today. When we starting thinking about what we wanted to do in building this business, we wanted to build something that relied on the 3 Fs:
- Financial Independence
We wanted the freedom to work on the projects that light us up. We wanted the flexibility to work from anywhere and at any time. And we wanted to financially be able to support ourselves through this process.
Any time I feel like I'm getting caught in the weeds or that my mountain of tasks is pulling me down, I try to remember the 3 Fs. My reason for doing what I do. By reflecting on my journey, what I've accomplished so far, and remembering why I chose this path to begin with, I'm allowing myself to focus on the big picture.
So, if you consistently can’t get a certain task done, sit down for a few minutes and ask yourself why it’s not happening. Look at what you have been doing and try to remember the point of a whole thing. Then get back to it!
Andréa Jones is a social media strategist who works with lifestyle brands to build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions. She's also the founder of SavvySocialSchool.com – a membership community with everything you need to achieve visibility, growth, and engagement on social media.