For anyone who's self-employed, you'll know that sometimes productivity slips and your attention switches from one task to the next. This could keep happening to the point where you don't really get anything finished! While we understand that it's difficult to be creative and hard-working all day, there are certain hacks that you should know about. These range from useful tech to age-old techniques to just simple tips that you'll definitely wish you knew of earlier in your professional life!
1. Pomodoro technique
This is a time-management system which is all about working hard but also with a reward at the end. The technique says to be 100% laser-focused on your task (i.e. Don't check your phone, don't get up for coffee, don't switch to another task) for a maximum of 25 minutes, but then allow yourself 5 minutes as a relaxation time to do whatever you want. The Pomodoro technique states that you should do this 25/5 method four times, and then allow yourself a bigger break of 15-30 minutes. Do this as long as your schedule allows.
2. Make use of smartphone apps
Although it's fair to say that smartphones can be a major distraction to our productivity (with WhatsApp, Instagram, and email notifications popping up), it can still be effective in helping us to complete tasks. The Google Calendar app, for example, is a great way of tracking your meetings, daily tasks, and general reminders. Unlike a phone, we don't always carry a diary or physical calendar around with us! Therefore, a smartphone calendar app helps us keep track of tasks and not to forget new ones when they arise. It's also a good idea to harness collaboration tools and read a comparison of the best solutions, as there might be a huge number of apps that could help to finish projects: Asana, Wrike, and Trello are just some examples of collaboration tools which can boost productivity.
3. Work in your optimum environment
Different people require different work environments, so there's no right answer. If you need to get out of the house and prefer background noise to help you work, such as a coffee shop, then allow yourself this option. Conversely, some people need to be alone in a quiet room to be productive, so make sure you don't conform to ‘whatever everyone else is doing,' as you could be hamstringing yourself.
4. Try the countdown rule
Starting the day right is important, so if literally getting out of bed is something you find troublesome, then try the countdown rule. If you countdown from 5-4-3-2-1 in your head or out loud, then you'll find that an immediate reaction is to get going and begin something. The more often you do this, the better you'll get at reacting to the countdown and stop procrastinating when you should be working or even going to the gym, as the rule applies to any task.
5. Do the biggest/worst tasks first
It's reasonable that we fear some tasks, but it's far better to get them out of the way first. If we hold them off until later or even the next day, they only weigh on our minds more heavily and we'll continue dreading them! Face your biggest and worst tasks head on and complete them before anything else. Once that big mountain has been climbed, you'll feel so much better and far more productive.
6. Delay or say no to tasks
Finally, it's okay to tell someone to wait once in a while. Closing dates are important to stick to, but if things are building up and up and someone presents you with a new task with an impending deadline, you should have the power to say “hold on.” If you're stressed to your eyeballs and have too much on your plate, then tell someone that it needs to wait until next week when you have more time. People can't always have their way, and you'll be much happier knowing that you don't have one more task weighing you down.