Thanks to technology at our fingertips, the world moves at an incredible pace and it often feels like we have no choice but to keep up. You’ll be typing a client email while also texting your best friend about her date last night or setting up child care for the following day, all while brainstorming your next home renovation. Or you might be cooking dinner while also checking your phone for shipping notifications while also helping your kids with their homework. The number of things we find ourselves doing simultaneously is enough to make your head spin.
We have probably all fallen victim at one time or another to some of these overwhelming situations where even just the daily tasks feel impossible to juggle. Though busyness can be a huge killer of productivity if you let it, there are some ways to stay ahead of the mental bog down to keep from drowning in the day to day tasks. Here are five things that might be contributing to your unproductiveness + a few tips to tone down the crazy!
1. Your Environment
Imagine sitting down to knock out a project that requires significant concentration at a desk with yesterday’s cold coffee mug pushed aside, papers from last week’s client meeting spread about and a million browser tabs open on your desktop. This is reality for so many of us, especially in a time where our homes have also become our workspaces. While the ability to look past ancillary distractions in the environment come easily for some, that is not the case for others and productivity is significantly decreased when we’re unable to focus on the task at hand.
- Set aside time at the end of each day to put away the things you are finished with
- Avoid eating where you work (or clear the dishes immediately)
- Invest in office storage that excites you! (Folders, storage bins, etc.)
2. Your Schedule (or lack thereof)
For many of you, solopreneurship is often so closely melded to your personal life, it’s hard to see where your business stops and your personal matters begin. It’s less than ideal to have to take an important client call when you’re grocery shopping. While being busy is a way of life, it can also be tied to so much disappointment because you haven’t implemented a schedule for all of your important obligations that drive your business and life forward. By designating daily or weekly times to work, prioritized by deadline or level of importance, you might just find there is MORE time to spend with family and friends and regain some resemblance of a work/life balance!
- Create the schedule with the device/planner/notebook you’re likely to have with you the most to make it easier to view
- Don’t over schedule; leave time for inevitable popup tasks
- Treat yo’ self with something after each task or day is complete
3. Your Phone
Hello, we’re all addicted to our phones. This is the new norm of our society. We never leave home without them and we certainly don’t intentionally go very long periods of time without checking them. While there are so many things our phones CAN help us do (i.e. wake us up, manage our calendar, connect us to clients and friends via phone call, text or email, etc.), there are also negatives to being tied to this tiny multipurpose device (I just spent HOW long scrolling Tik Tok?)
- Take a break and turn your phone off while working on important tasks
- Utilize the Screen Time or Do Not Disturb functions during your working schedule.
- Manage your notifications on all nonessential to business apps and texts
4. Your Diet
This is one area that can be super challenging to stay in control of because it requires so much preplanning and willpower. You might start the week feeling super motivated to meal prep and eat healthily but come Wednesday, those carrot sticks in the fridge aren’t sounding too appetizing and you’re on the hunt for what to eat for lunch, snacking on leftover Easter candy and browsing take out menus (we’ve all been there). However, planning your meals in advance will not only take the guesswork out of “what’s for lunch?” but will also save you time and money.
- Plan to prepare in advance three to four lunches for the week, leaving you one or two days a week to grab takeout of our go to lunch with coworkers.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid unnecessary snacking and stay hydrated. (Bonus: hydration will also improve your mental clarity!)
- Invest in nonperishable, healthy snacks such as nuts or dried fruit to keep near your desk when that afternoon slump hits!
5. Your Online Activity
Similar to your phone, having Google Chrome at your disposal can be oh-so-tempting. Feeling the need for a little retail therapy? Nordstrom.com is bookmarked. Wonder what’s going on with that friend from high school that you haven’t seen in 10 years? Better creep them on Facebook. It might be fun to take a trip in 6 months – better check airfare. The internet can be a wonderful tool to aid in productivity, but also a huge deterrent. While it’s ok (and necessary) to feel the need to take a brain break, it’s important to keep unnecessary browsing in check.
- Open all the tabs you’ll need for the day and resist the others. (i.e inbox, calendar, spreadsheets, etc.)
- Utilize designated break time for extracurricular browsing, in an entirely different window.
- Set a timer for any additional browsing time you take and stick to it.
Consider every day a fresh slate, a new opportunity to implement these tips and tricks and make the best use of your time. Let us know how they work for you!
Written by Molly Dysart