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Your 3 productivity secret weapons – part 1

by Alison Bradford

(This is part 1 in a 3 part series on your productivity secret weapons)

One of the reasons you may have started your business was ‘freedom’.

Freedom from the daily commute, the over controlling boss, the restraints of working in an office where you’re constantly chasing deadlines.

It’s great at the beginning isn’t it?

No-one standing over your shoulder. No laborious paperwork to fill in. No-one to tell you what you should be doing and by when.

Woo hoo!

But soon the novelty starts to wear off as you realise you’ve not really got much done in the past month and you’re not making much progress against the goals you set.

Maybe you’re not getting many new customers or you’re not making enough money.

Maybe you’re finding yourself putting in more hours than you ever you did in an employed role but still not getting the results you want.

You suddenly realise that you need to give yourself a kick up the bum and get more productive.

Productivity is a measure of output versus input, so being more productive is about getting more output for less input.

How to get there though isn’t always easy to see when you’re in midst of feeling overwhelmed, have a to-do list as long as your arm, and in the thick of doing all the day to day stuff you need to do, to keep your business going.

That’s why I’m sharing with you my 3 productivity secret weapons – to help you see some changes you can make quickly and easily in your working week to get more done without putting in more time!

Weapon 1 = Batching

Batching is all about doing similiar tasks together. So, rather than dipping in and out of lots of things, you focus on getting one type of job done at the same time.

Here are some examples of areas where batching is really effective:

1. Face to face meetings

If you need to get out and visit clients, or if you make appointments to meet potential clients or suppliers, or you’re meeting up with other business owners for support and to widen your network, aim to schedule these meetings on the same day.

For example, if you have 4 meetings planned this week, doing them on separate days means you are travelling back and forth to your office space 8 times. You’ll also find that when you get back it takes you a little while to get back in the swing of things as you check your email etc.

Doing them all in 1 day means you not only cut down your travelling time but also you are not wasting time ‘getting back into the flow’ when you return to your office.

Top tip – better still, arrange all your meetings to take place at the same place.

2. Phone calls

Have lots of calls to make throughout the week? Batch them up and do them in one sitting.

Aim to do your calls in the morning to allow for call-backs later in the day. (Ever made a call just before you’ve finished for the day, left a voicemail, only for the person to call you back 30 minutes later when you’re unavailable? Then spent the next couple of days trying to get hold of them again?)

Top tip – consider what voicemail message you leave if you don’t connect with the person. Set an expectation about when you will call them back or when you will be available for them to call you back.

Try to avoid voicemail tennis!

3. Social Media

Do you find yourself flicking in and out of sites like Twitter and Facebook throughout the day?

You just thought you’d have a peek at the latest updates before you start that job you really need to get done, and before you know it half an hour has gone and you haven’t done anything.

If you use social media as part of your marketing then batch it together and do it at set times of the day or week.

Use some of the tools available like Hootsuite or Buffer so you can schedule your updates in 1 go. Facebook now has a scheduling feature built in so you can schedule a month’s worth of updates in 1 sitting if you like!

Top tip – close down any social media sites on your computer when you are not actively looking in them. I don’t know about you but I find the temptation too much if I have Facebook open, not to go and keep flicking back in to see any updates, when I’m in the middle of working on something else.

4. Emails

You may well have heard before that to be more productive you should have set times in the day for checking and responding to email, rather than looking every time a new one pings in, but are you actually doing this??

It can be too tempting to keep checking your emails when you really should be focusing on something else entirely.

Decide now which  times of day work best for you to deal with your emails and stick to it. This can be one of the easiest ways for you to get more done in less time so why not do it? What is the worst that can happen?

Some people say avoid the start of the day for dealing with emails as this is often when you are most productive, but this doesn’t work for me.

I like to start my day dealing with emails, then usually have another slot around lunch time and again before I finish for the day.

Top tip – as with social media, don’t have your email open as standard on your computer. (This is the only way I can avoid constantly checking my emails!)

Over to you now. What other tasks are you doing little and often that you could batch up and be more productive with?

Come up with 2-3 tasks that you are going to batch over the week and go do it!

Leave me a comment and let me know how you get on with it.

PS – Make sure you don’t miss weapon number 2 next week. If you get my Rock Your Business Tips each week I’ll email you the link when the next post is out. Click here to put your name down

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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.

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