Being an entrepreneur can be tough sometimes, especially when you’re trying to stay productive and in the zone whilst working from home or in your local café. Gaining and keeping motivation and momentum can be a real pain, especially with the social distractions posed by the 21st century. With this in mind here are my 6 top tips, I use daily, to ensure I remain productive and motivated throughout my full work day.
1). Plan Your Day in Advance
Having your day planned is essential to ensure you remain on course and achieve everything you set out to. I personally sit down every night for 10 minutes, reflect on how the day has been, and plan the structure for the next day. Doing this allows you to start the following day with a clear and effective structure and format to achieve the outcome you desire.
It’s worth pointing out that in a perfect world this works great but we both know that’s not the case in reality. Be prepared, and leave some blank space to build in time for variation tasks. Don’t let a task out of the blue effect your day and throw you off track, complete it and move back onto the structure you have previously created.
2). Wake Up Early
For me waking up early really helps to boost my productivity. In the first few hours of being awake I complete at least 35% of my work before others are even awake. Before I know it I look up to find that its already 10:00am. By this time, others I know are having their first break whilst I’ve just got 4 hours of highly productive work under my belt.
This also helps me to feel more motivated and driven as I enter the early afternoon. Some people find it tough to wake up early, but I’ve personally found once you’ve woken up at 5:00am a few times it becomes more of a habit and stops feeling like a chore. That being said, this method isn’t for everyone and should be in line with your productivity cycle as detailed next.
3). Recognise Your Productivity Cycle
Recognising your productivity cycle can really help you to remain focused and on course. For me personally I’m most productive in the morning between 6:00am – 10:00am. I know that often my productivity drops between 3:00pm – 4:30pm and picks up again between 5:00pm – 7:00pm. Knowing that 3:00pm – 4:30pm can be my least productive time I use this time to go to the gym instead. This gets me pumped up and ready to tackle the last part of the day.
My business partner Dan finds himself to be more productive later on in the evening, and uses this to his strengths by focusing on tasks of high concentration at this time. If you’re unable to leave and go to the gym like me, then schedule tasks that require minimal concentration levels, such as admin etc, around your least productive time points. Recognising your productivity cycle, and working with it, can really help you when planning your day and can really help you to remain focused and motivated.
4). Designate a Work Space Area & Keep it Clean
One of the key fundamentals when working for yourself, or even just working from home, is ensuring you have a space to call your own. Setting aside an area you can go to, away from everything else going on, will really help to keep your productivity up and your focus on target. This should be an area you can go to and be alone with yourself and your thoughts. It’s important that this is somewhere you feel at peace and able to spend several hours at a time uninterrupted.
I have a home office set up in the 2nd spare bedroom that become my work space throughout the day. I feel its key to ensure this space is kept not only tidy, but simple. This area should be free from clutter and include only the basic essentials. For example, in my home office I have the following: A desk, a chair, a clock, two lamps, a book case, a pen holder, a notebook, a white board, my laptop, my printer and a few plants to liven the place up. I remove the need for paperwork and files by using an online storage system. I personally use ‘Dropbox for Business’ but other systems on the market work just as well. This is all I need to function and run my business. Anything else would become a distraction.
5). Remove All Distractions
Possibly one of the hardest things you’ll face when working for yourself is dealing with distractions. The odd Facebook tag or Twitter post here and there, although appearing insignificant, can become a quick time drain taking 20 minutes plus from your day. In order to remain productive and focused you need to be able to block out these distractions.
I personally turn off all push notifications from social media, and attempt to refrain from looking at what’s going on in the world of others around me. There’s a great app for your laptop, called ‘Rescue Time’, that actually tracks your usage of social media and helps you to cut down the amount of time spent online and not being productive.
I also turn on my phones ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode during times of peek productivity, removing the distraction of unwanted phone calls. Only certain people can get hold of me during this time because I have pre-set them with permission to call me.
Another method I use to remain focused, is having a vison board of all my goals and objectives. Whenever I feel myself getting distracted I reflect on my vision board, what I’m try to achieve, why I need to achieve it and so on. This gives me the motivation to get straight back to it.
Ensure that you are doing your best to remove the distractions of the world from your day and you’ll soon find yourself with a boost of productivity.
6). Designate & Create Time to Switch Off
Last but not least, a key part to remaining productive when working for yourself, or from home, is to designate time to switch off and step away from the desk. Having some time set aside each day for yourself not only gives you clarity but it stops you from becoming overwhelmed by your business. Being an entrepreneur it’s in our nature to race ahead and ‘out work the other guys’, but a key part to remaining on course is allowing yourself time away to reset and regain your focus on the bigger picture.
Once a week arrange to meet with friends and try to talk about anything other than business. Instead find a topic you can all relate to and shift your mind from thinking about outstanding tasks or challenges to something completely different. When you return to your desk you’ll feel refreshed, with a better sense of clarity, ready to tackle everything thrown at you without feeling overwhelmed or run down.
It can be hard to recognise the value in switching off from the one thing you need to focus on but doing so will really help you to develop and grow your business in the long run. Never forget the reason behind what you’re doing.