Secrets to Improve Your Productivity
Do you have trouble managing your time and want to improve your productivity? My 3 secrets to getting the most out of meetings, managing your emails, and taking charge of your schedule are preparation, priorities, and positivity.
Prepare to Excel
What do you want to accomplish? Write it down. Seeing our goals in writing gives power to them and encourages us to take action.
- Annually: Every year I write out the big things I want to accomplish in all aspects of my life.
- Monthly: What 3 projects do I want to accomplish this month that align with my goals?
- Weekly: I will write out the top 3 projects I want to work on. This helps me stay focused on my goals as other things are added to my plate.
- Daily: Then daily what 3 tasks do I need to take to accomplish these weekly goals? Writing these goals out the night before or early with your coffee allows you to get started without hesitation. Many people lose time in the mornings because they don’t know where to start or what to do.
NOTE: In our Fresh Start event each week, our Mastermind members have the opportunity to name what they will accomplish in their business (maintenance), for their business (growth), and for their well-being(foundation).
I have a master list/spreadsheet of all my ideas and to-do that I dump things into. I assign each task/idea to a business category and assign a priority number to it. Not everything will get accomplished in this list and that is alright. Importance and priorities shift as we grow and our businesses grow.
Preparation is critical for to meetings, launches, and commitments to clients, team members, and business associates. Ask yourself these questions in advance to set yourself up for success.
- How can I prepare for this meeting so I can show up and present the best version of myself?
- What steps do I need to take now to build my audience so when I have a launch there are customers that are interested and buying?
- What processes do I need to put in place so my customers have a great experience?
- What systems do I need to create so my team members can excel?
You are most productive when you plan ahead and prepare. Then you get to choose what you do with your time instead of wasting time by being reactionary.
We all have the same amount of time in the day. People complain about wanting more time and needing to get better at time management, however, it is really about priorities. What is most important to you?
Have you noticed that the people and things most important to you, you always find a way to make time? Even if it is for 5 minutes. The same thing applies in business. What is important to you, you find time for.
Many business owners get stuck in the cycle of busyness, meaning they focus on tasks that don’t produce results (addicted to learning but never implementing), fun and easy because they don’t require a large effort (marketing vs sales), or get stuck in the cycle of being reactive to customers and vendors.
Position your business for success by placing yourself ahead of the curve. That means placing a priority on things that will move you forward.
- Where do you want your business to go?
- How much time are you spending on growing your business a week?
- How much time are you spending building relationships and talking to your customers/vendors?
- How much time are you spending improving your existing offerings?
- How much time are you spending positioning your business to adapt to the market for the next year? As we grow we can’t expect the same results with the same effort. Growth requires us to evolve and do business differently.
A common objection I hear is business owners saying they don’t have time to review their business or plan ahead. The problem is if you don’t make time to review your business now, then you will be given time later when your business hits a roadblock. Position yourself for a smoother ride by making it a priority to use your time to help your business grow.
Positive Behaviors Contribute to Productivity
Doing the same task at the same time makes it easier to accomplish because you don’t have to think about it. I have specific days of the week for certain tasks and use templates.
- Mondays: Business Coaching/Email Campaigns
- I use an agenda template for my calls so that I follow the same path for consistent service.
- I use an email template so subscribers know what to expect and how to read my emails.
- Tuesdays: Blogging/Masterminds 3rd and 4th Tuesdays
- I use a blog template so it is easy for me to complete and readers know exactly what to expect.
- Designated days for Masterminds makes them a priority so there is no overbooking.
- Saturday: Reading business articles
Make Organization a Priority
It allows you to quickly find things and reduces stress because your brain doesn’t have to work as hard to find something. Plus you reduce your workload by having to ask clients, vendors, and team members to answer a question or send something again. Several simple organization practices I have in place include:
- Cleaning my desk and office space at the end of every day. Then I have a clean fresh start the next morning.
- Using a planner to track appointments, tasks, and notes. I have used a paper planner for years and an electronic calendar so that organized on the go.
I am very direct to make it easy for recipients to respond.
- Subject line matches the type of email. If an action is needed than the subject will include NEED ACTION BY XX/XX: topic
- The first paragraph includes what is needed in response and by what date in bold so it stands out from the rest of the email.
- 3 paragraphs at most. 2-3 lines per paragraph. KISS (Keep it simple ……)
- Include the links or files so the recipient can easily take action and so attachments don’t eat up their inbox storage space.
I use the FAT (file, act, trash) system for my email. Remaining emails that require more time to respond are tagged by category.
- Review: Longer requests that can’t be answered in less than 2 minutes.
- Read Later: Business articles.
- Follow-up: Emails I’m waiting on a response.
I use a meticulous filing system. This makes it easy for me to find a file and to also share files. I use the same system for emails and files.
- I organized by business category. (Business Development, Customer Service, IT, Marketing, Sales, etc.)
- I name the file for what it is and what it is about. (ex: Resume – Jones, Melissa – 2017) That way when I sort files it is easy for me to find.
- I also name images using the keywords I would like them to be associated with on the web. It helps with SEO and Pinterest. (ex: Little Black Desk Society – Coffee Bar Blog – Secrets to Productivity.png)
Stay in Alignment with Your Core Values
This allows you to say no to opportunities, tasks, relationships, and products or services that will not move your business forward. For a lot of people saying “no” is hard. They don’t want to offend someone, but you can say no with grace. You can suggest an alternative solution to a request. However, remember the word “no” can be a full sentence by itself. You are not required to explain yourself.
Did you find these tips helpful? What are your secrets for being productive? Share in the comments below to help another small business owner.