Effective time management can seem an impossible task. You are trying to work, run a household, look after the kids and act as the frontline for anything new and unexpected. It is no wonder you sometimes feel like all you do is a race around yet the to-do pile remains stacked high, and nothing seems to get done.
Here are three simple ways to control your productivity.
Create a Plan
Make lists. Lists are the best way to ensure you have a clear plan in your head. Whether you prefer to have a pen and paper type list or you get an app to control your list for you, the important thing is to use it. Section tasks into three categories. High, medium and low priority, as this makes it even easier to see what you need to do next. High priority tasks should be those that need completing within the day, that really cannot wait, and that have a considerable significance to your work. Being more organised and structured immediately adds to productivity. Low priority tasks can wait for another day but if you get through everything else you know you can tackle them and get them off the list. It is quite satisfying to watch the task list dwindle, however, if things do not go according to plan and the workload is still not getting done, instead of beating yourself up, remember that you have done the planning work so tomorrow should be more accessible.
Section Your Day
Once you have your to-do list, you know what order the work is going in. The next step is to ensure you section your day into manageable chunks. Bring a parent entrepreneur changes over time so you can subtle tweak your day to get things in. As the children get older you will often find you have more extended time chunks available to work; when they are younger, you will just have to bear with things as they inevitably interrupt you. By creating work sections in your day, and taking breaks in between, you should find it is more comfortable even with little ones. Breaks are significant as you need to recharge your batteries so continually working through meals times and all other events are not suitable for you or for the business. Split the day into 30-minute sections and in between make yourself get up, use the restroom, make a drink and walk around for a bit. If you have children around at that time spend ten mins with them.
Limited Social Time
Social media is one of the biggest time wasters. It is all too easy if you work alone from home to find yourself checking in to see what is happening on Facebook. Make a plan that during your chunks of time you have allowed for working you will also stay off social media. Take calls that are work-related or emergency child related and leave the rest until you have finished for the day or have taken a break. Catch up with your social media before you start and if needs be close social browser windows and silence notifications.
We run a productivity challenge sign up for the next one here.
One of the hardest things to master when you run your own business is your productivity. Whilst you are going to want to make sure that your business is a success, from time to time you can find that you feel your focus start to drift, particularly if there are things going on within your family life.
The trouble is, the only person who can help to make sure that you are productive is you. You are in charge of your own productivity and this means that you need to take control and make it work.
We know that this isn’t easy, particularly for parentpreneurs, so with this in mind, we have put together some of our top tips for taking back control of your productivity.
Take regular breaks
Now we know that this one probably sounds really weird, but the truth of the matter is that we need to take regular breaks in order to recharge and refresh ourselves. There are going to be times when you are going to want to power through those tasks, but if you feel yourself flagging then take yourself away from the screen, if only just for a few minutes.
Embrace the quick wins
Whilst too much multitasking or getting distracted isn’t great for your productivity, there are times when it pays to drop what you are doing and move to something else. This is particularly true if you have found yourself a quick win. If you know a task is only going to take a few minutes then do it. Not only will it give you a big tick on the to-do list but will remind you that you can get things done too!
Now, multi-tasking is entirely another thing. Whilst we think we are capable of focusing on 100 things at once, the truth is that we are really not. Instead, our brains need to have one thing at a time to think about. Give up on the idea that you are going to be able to multi-task and instead give your full attention to one particular job. You will soon get that task done and then you can move onto the next.
Turn off your notifications
If you are the type of person who is easily distracted (and let’s face it we all are) then you will want to try and minimise the risk that your eyes will wander. Turn off all notifications on your phone and laptop, apart from the ones that are incredibly important. That way, if someone is trying to get in touch with you, then you know it is for something that you have to do. Not just because they have uploaded a great video of a cat to Facebook.
Set times for key tasks
Things, like checking your emails or working on your to-do list, are things that everyone has to do on a daily basis. However, you can find that you get bogged down replying to messages and sorting out which is the most priority. Instead, set certain times throughout the day when you will focus on these tasks, then for the rest of the time, they are not something that you will need to look at.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways that you can try to improve your own productivity. Sometimes the key is to remind yourself just why you are doing what you do and that should give you the push you need to reach your goals.
Are you ready to optimise your time and boost your productivity?
Join our Productivity challenge for parents running a business
Time is something that we all wish we had more of, this is particularly true for parentpreneurs who are going to feel that they are already stretched as much as possible.
Are you one of these parentpreneurs? Do you wish that there was some kind of magic wand that you could wave and make some more time?
Well, it may not be a magical solution, but we have some helpful hints that could really help you to try and save some time in everyday life. In fact, we have put together 7 productivity hacks that could really save you some much needed time.
Get the jobs you hate out of the way first
Whilst plenty of parentpreneurs are lucky enough to do something that they love. There are still some tasks that you are going to like less than others. The trouble with these jobs is that most of us are likely to put them off throughout the day. This means when the time comes to actually get them done you are going to feel less than motivated, and it could take longer than it should.
Rather than setting these to do at the end of the day, it is a much better idea to get these out of the way first. Not only will your brain be awake and alert, but you won’t be worrying the rest of the day that you need to get it done.
Tackle the quick wins
Not only does it pay to get rid of the tricky tasks first, but you may also find yourself saving some time by tackling the quick wins too. If you know that something is only going to take a few minutes to resolve, then tick these off the list first, this will reduce your to-do list in no time at all.
It will also help you to feel motivated to get things done, particularly other tasks that may take a little more time and a little more thought.
Try to avoid distractions
When you work from home there is always going to be plenty of things around to distract you. Social media, housework, our friends and family. All of these things can take your focus away from your work and leave you falling a little behind. This means, rather than tackling your to-do list, you will instead spend too much time trying to catch up on yourself.
Turn off your notifications on your phone, tablet and laptop and make sure that people remember that you are trying to work. Also, if you can, shut yourself away from the rest of the house, as then you won’t be tempted to wash up or load the washing machine.
Get away from your desk
It may seem like the opposite of being productive, but sometimes the best way to get your work done is to get away from it for a short amount of time. If you are sat at your desk for an extended period of time then after a while you are likely to feel a little stale. Getting up, away and active will give you a fresh new focus and help you to achieve all those things you set out to do that day.
This works best if you head outside for at least 10-15 minutes, but if you are really short for time, then perhaps just sit in the garden for 5 minutes.
Find ways to make things simple
Technology has been invented to try and make all our lives that little bit easier. Which means if you have the opportunity to do simple tasks that you need to carry out every day for your business, then take it.
There are a variety of ways that you can make your workflow that little bit easier. This comes in the form of apps and online tools that can help you to keep track of your workflow, record your finances and communicate with clients or colleagues.
Plan on a Sunday
Find that you lose time on a Monday morning planning in the things that you need to get done that week? Well, rather than wasting a precious few minutes, it makes sense to take an hour on a Sunday night to plan in all the tasks that you need to get done.
You can head off to bed knowing that you have everything in place for the next day and you can get up and focus on the actual tasks you need to do.
Have a no meetings day
Does the nature of your business mean that you need to join in on conference calls or perhaps attend meetings? If you are finding that these are eating into your working time, then perhaps it is a good idea to set yourself a no-contact day. This day gives you a chance to focus yourself on your work and really battle through the tasks that you need to get done, without having to be interrupted.
Of course, this may not always be possible to do on a weekly basis, but if you plan in every couple of weeks, or even once a month if you need to. Then you will be surprised by just how much you can achieve.
Now you know, there are some things that you can do to give yourself a little more time every now and then. How you spend that time is down to you. But one thing is for sure, you are really going to value having even just a few minutes a day.
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We all love the idea of making our lives easier. This is why plenty of us will try out life hacks, all to make sure that things take less time such as cleaning, as well as less effort.
What if there were ways that you could make business that little bit easier? Great if you are a parentpreneur and already short on time.
Well, we present to you, 3 areas of business that you can automate. That’s right, you can set them up to do things on your behalf, saving you plenty of time!
Social media and blogs
Social media and blogging have become vital parts of effective marketing campaigns. They are both known to have a real impact on how successful your business is. The trouble with social media is that it can take some time to log in, create posts and then share them.
This is where automated social media and blogging is a huge help. Whilst it can’t write the posts for you, it can post them onto your profiles or pages. All you need to do is create a whole load of posts and blogs, tell the platform when to post them (date, time etc) and then, just like magic, your posts will appear.
Customer service, especially great customer service is very important for your business. However, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t something that can be given an automated touch. The hard thing about this is making sure that you don’t lose the personal touch.
Automated customer service, in particular apps or live chats, are great for those businesses that have tech-savvy, younger customers. But those that target to an older crowd might find that they need to still take an old-fashioned approach. This is why it might be a good idea to try and offer both an “actual person” and an automated option to your customers.
That way, they can try out an automated approach, but still, have the chance to speak to someone if that isn’t giving them the answers that they need.
Some business owners only have themselves to think about and organise. But others have staff that they need to keep track of too. Scheduling is important, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t without headache.
Thankfully, it seems that some companies have seen this issue, and designed automated scheduling tools that make this side of business all the easier. You can find out where your staff are, and when they are available, as well as organise shifts and rotas. All using a few clicks of the button.
Better than spending hours trying to figure things out on a pad.
Business will always be hard work, but it doesn’t have to be “hard work”. By looking at ways that you can make things simpler for yourself, you can free up some more time to spend with your family or making moves to make your business even more of a success.
I use Acuity Scheduling you can try it here
For social media scheduling I use Smarter Queue you can try it here
Disclosure: Links in this post (and anywhere on www.parentsinbiz.co.uk) may be affiliate links. Find out what that means here.
This episode covers, Productivity is the key and even though there will be times when it eludes you, there is always something you can do to keep things on track. To help you to make the most of your time, we have put together 6 brilliant business productivity habits.
Thanks for listening!
Working from home can be a great thing. It is perfect for achieving a work-life balance and cuts down on time spent commuting or travelling.
That said, working from home can also be difficult. There are plenty of distractions around to stop you from focusing on all the things that you need to get done, and you also rely solely on yourself for motivation.
So, how do you make sure that you work from home as effectively as possible? Here are 3 things that can help you to work from home.
A clearly defined working space
If you are finding it a struggle to work from home, then perhaps you need to give yourself some space to think and work. You may not be blessed with a spare room that you can work in, but chances are that you will have a spare corner that you can set up a desk for you to sit at during working hours.
It is a good idea to decorate this space a little differently to other parts of your house. Perhaps have a calendar and whiteboard on the wall by the desk, which shows you that you are at work and need to focus. You can also take advantage of the power of plants, they brighten up the space and detoxify the air around you, which will help you to feel healthy and be motivated to work.
A to-do list
You should never underestimate the power of a to-do list. Having all of the tasks written down that you need to do will give you focus on the tasks at hand. You will also have some idea of how you can plan out your day and what you need to do. Not only this, but there is nothing more satisfying than being able to tick off the tasks that you have finished, creating a visual tool to help focus on what you need to complete.
The way that you create or display your to-do list is down to you. Have it hanging on the wall, make a fancy spreadsheet or simply scribble it down in your diary. The main thing is just to have a list put together.
Still, try to communicate with the outside world
Working from home on a regular basis can feel like you are completely isolated and separate from the rest of the world. Communicating with those outside is key. If you are invited out for a coffee with friends and you can free the time then accept. Not only will it help you to keep on track with your friendships, but it will make sure that you take a good break from your work too. This break will help you to focus when you get back to your desk and also make you feel great too.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to motivate yourself when you work from home, just make sure that you follow these top tips and you are likely to find yourself getting absolutely everything done that you need to. All from the comfort of your own home.
Weekends are highly valued by all. Just the thought of a weekend approaching is enough to drive people wild, partying or excited. After a dedicated week of work, people may still feel the urge to do something meaningful with their weekend other than idling around and letting such precious time go down the drain. Besides that, the modern world has become immensely competitive and setting time to work on weekends may in one way or another, be a stepping stone to success.
Implementing working plans on a weekend is usually a hard task, almost unachievable. However, there are a number of tips to ensure that you make your working weekend plans a reality.
1) Proper planning
Everyone knows the difficulty of implementing ideas without first planning and organising. Lack of proper and appropriate plans leads to a wasted weekend, in that one ends up doing absolutely nothing related to work. It’s important that you first acquire a diary in order to formulate a means of planning and scheduling their weekend well. You can opt to divide the weekend into various periods of time depending on the duration you intend to work.
Thereafter, you can allocate each period a task. Duration set should have strict time limits. Time limits you set should be reasonable and realistic. In addition, they should never be dishonoured. Remember that honouring your plans is equivalent to honouring one’s self and vice versa.
As a parent, your children look up to you as an example. Time limits play a huge role in helping you avoid the act of procrastination. It’s also advisable to share your plans with your family members who may, in turn, help you observe deadlines.
While planning is of importance in coming up with a work schedule, creating a reminder will go a long way in helping you adhere to the schedule.
2) Avoiding distractions
Distractions may include social media, catching up with friends, negative influence and focusing on other things other than what you have planned for. Most distractions make you shift energy into other things other than work. This may lead to tiredness and wastage of precious time. It’s important for you to draw a clear line between serious work and other engagements not scheduled for. It’s important to remember that success in your family life comes through work and proper organisation. In as much as your children or other family members may be distractions to work, it’s advisable that you know how to strike a balance between the two. If you plan to work a weekend try and plan in advance so you can arrange childcare. Besides that, you can opt to engage your family members in your work for an effective division of labour so that no one disrupts the other from work until it’s complete. All in all, you should set priorities and learn to say “NO” when need be.
3) Avoid overworking
Take breaks to relax, recharge the brain and meditating between your work is recommended. You can have breaks of jogging, cooking or sharing jokes with your children. Remember the saying hard work with no play makes Jack a dull boy. In addition, taking breaks between work also assists you to review your performance. Besides that, relaxing helps you anticipate getting back to work.
As entrepreneurs, we all dream of a work-life balance plan. But is it even possible? That’s a million dollar question and the answer depends from person to person. Many people take that as a priority when thinking about starting their own business. The more you spend on your business, the more you earn, but the less you “live” so what is the point of earning? A typical schedule of eight working hours, eight for sleeping and eight for social relations, hobbies other activities does not always work out. Too many situations that can’t wait happens every day, even at night and especially when you own a business. So how should a business owner like you spend the time to work? Instead of an unrealistic plan, you could give yourself a forgiving approach to a work-life balance.
Set Priorities, Not Boundaries and Keep Everything Flexible
Fixed working hours will make you exhausted in no time. Try to adjust your working time based on priorities, not boundaries. For example, there is a new project requiring more than 10 hours working time per day for a few weeks. No way you could just leave it there and go home at five because you will soon realise that you cannot make the deadline. But if you stay and spend your time on it, well, that is exactly how stress takes over life. The solution is you can plan everything beforehand including your working hours. Unlike everyone, an entrepreneur can decide how he spends time on his/her own without a boss breathing down your neck. And that should depend on how you feel about the job. What matters most? Would you like to take a rest to gain more energy before doing it or you prefer to finish it off first and get rest later. No matter what your choice is. A flexible plan will do you no harm and gives you a lot of room to manoeuvre should a new priority come up.
Get Rid Of Guilt
After a long hard-working day you get a lot done but when you look back there is still more job that needs to be done, you run out of energy but you feel guilty to get a rest or you are just too focus on the job and ignore how exhausted you are. Turns out the result is not as good as you expected if you push yourself beyond your limit. That’s a common problem among entrepreneurs.
Stress and exhaustion can affect the quality of work, you probably know this already. A short break will raise the morale of your team as well as your own energy. Let your team and yourself leave a little bit earlier or maybe take a coffee break are choices to overcome stress and exhaustion. You can choose to work at home in the evening or early morning instead of cramming in more hours throughout the day. Clear your priorities and get some rest, then get back to work.
Be Honest With Yourself and Others
Last but not least is choosing your working hours honesty. Working whenever you want is maybe easy if you are single or have not established a family. But having a family is a whole new level of commitment that you need to balance. Be open and share with your family. Promise that you will spend time with them and keep your words. If you have to work, tell them honestly and help them understand that it is necessary. That way you can get your family involved in the process to help you balance with life. Though it is not entirely healthy to not spend time with your children, at least they will understand and will even support you by not adding stress from worrying.
Working from home is the ideal for so many people. The ability to manage your own time, be in the comfort of your own home and achieve the perfect work/life balance.
However, if you ask anyone who works from home what the biggest drawback is, then staying productive comes somewhere near the top of the list. With so many distractions and only yourself to motivate, well yourself, it can be tricky to keep going with your tasks. So, with this in mind, we have put together our top tips on how you can make sure that you stay productive when you are working from home.
Make sure you get dressed
There may very well be times that you want nothing more to stay in your PJs all day, and at times this is great. But sometimes you are going to need to put your grown-up clothes on. By doing this you are creating a sense of being ready for the working day. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie, but just make sure that nothing you have is something you would lounge about in during the evening.
Take a commute
If you work a 9-5 in an office, then chances are that you will need to commute to and from the office every day. This time gives you the opportunity to wake up and get ready for the day ahead of you. You may want to take this approach if you work from home.
After getting up and getting dressed, take a short walk. Even if it is just around the street and back. This will kick-start your brain into the idea of working and get you ready for the day.
Employ a do not disturb approach
Your family can be distracting, especially children. So, it is a good idea to try and employ a “do not disturb” approach when you are trying to work. That doesn’t mean you should ignore them of course, instead, have things to distract your children (or your partner if they are just as irritating) whilst you get those all important tasks done.
Have an office
Many people find that having a dedicated space in your home for work is the perfect way to get things done. This is great if you are lucky enough to have a spare room. For those people that are not quite so blessed, they may need to rethink the idea of an office. Set up a corner of the room that is your “office” and make sure that you have all the right equipment that you need.
But don’t always work in the office
If you are finding yourself going stir crazy at home, why not utilise other suitable working spaces? Coffee shops are perfect for those people who work from home on a regular basis, giving you a lively space to work in, that doesn’t offer too many distractions (not to mention great tasting drinks too).
Have a routine
One of the best things you can do for yourself when you work from home is set up a regular routine and stick to it. There will be times when you need to finish early or work
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort” Paul J. Meyer
In this episode I give you 3 ways to increase productivity while strengthening your family. You can build a successful business without sacrificing quality time with your family it’s not an impossible task. Listen in!
Thanks for listening.