How’s your productivity? This pandemic has seriously highlighted how much one can do and not do in a given space and time. Millions of working folks may now be working remotely. More specifically:
Upwork estimates that 1 in 4 Americans over 26% of the American workforce will be working remotely through 2021. They also estimate that 22% of the workforce (36.2 Million Americans) will work remotely by 2025. (Source: ApolloTechnical)
Some working people have found working from home to be a dream come true. Others, not so much. Why? Discovering ways to focus and improve our productivity can be challenging when working from home with kids, pets, partners, and that “I must clean my house now before I go crazy” feeling. As writers who mainly work from home, this is a familiar procrastination tool.
I entirely relate, as I started my own business 11 years ago (my children were 11 and 5 at the time). No easy task. So here’s what I’ve learned over my decade+ as a solopreneur, in no particular order. Hope they help you!
Top 10 Productivity Hacks
Hire an assistant.
“But I can’t afford it!” you cry. Before you object, hear me out. What is your time worth? For me, it’s in the hundreds per hour or a package where I offer discounts. If your time is worth $150/hour, and you pay an assistant $50/hour, there’s clear profit, particularly if you only need an hour/week of an assistant’s time.
Change your paradigm. Aren’t you worth the investment? Pushing ourselves to exhaustion isn’t an effective time-management tool.
If you still work outside the home, this is an even more important option to help you manage your time and productivity. There’s also inherent accountability in hiring someone that will help you achieve your goals.
Still can’t afford it? Consider trading services or put one of your kids to work! I hired my daughter (once she hit 16) in exchange for all the goodies she wanted but couldn’t afford.
What’s your mission statement?
Say what? Again, hear me out. My mission statement for BadRedhead Media is two-fold:
• Share valuable information for writers (my demographic) via books, blog posts, newsletters, and Twitter Spaces (join me every Wednesday at 11 am pst/2 pm est to join my #BookMarketingChat Space!).
• Establish my expertise which is crucial to continuing to grow my business.
Whenever I feel myself drifting or going down an unnecessary, time-consuming activity (doom-scrolling, anyone?), I kick myself in the pants by asking myself if that activity is working toward either of those two goals. Not that free time isn’t essential or indeed, crucial. However, I suggest scheduling in that free time so you can be free of any burdens.
Use a planner.
Oh, have I struggled to find the perfect planner. Ultimately, I switched to a digital option, using my iPad with Apple pencil (you can use any tablet or other digital products) using the GoodNotes app. It’s a 2-page daily calendar, with plenty of writing space or even empty pages to fill with your notes. I also added a unique film on my iPad surface that makes it feel like you’re writing on paper (from Amazon).
We remember better when we write stuff down, so this option allows for both – digital that syncs and writing with a pencil.
Turn off notifications.
Forget about FOMO (fear of missing out). Stuff can wait. You don’t need to know what’s trending on Twitter every second of the day. By focusing on what you’re doing instead of going from task to task interrupted by social media pings – I’m already exhausted just writing that.
Example: I’m writing this post, and I’ve closed out all social media windows, management tools, and other distractions while I’m writing. So give yourself 20 minutes to free-write every day with zero distractions. Work your way up to one hour (or however long works for you), and start this habit now.
Use a social media management (SMM) tool.
A top time-management/productivity hack I can share with you. What is an SMM tool? Exactly how it sounds. Check out Buffer, Hootsuite, or others and give it a try. Both have free options.
This doesn’t mean all your social media needs to be automated – I mean, what’s the point in being on social media if you’re not social? I schedule in some stuff and live-tweet or post other stuff. E.g., schedule in your blog posts for #MondayBlogs (read more here) so that’s done, you’re prepped, and you can spend your precious time doing whatever else needs to get done.
Set aside blocks of time for time-consuming tasks, including your writing time.
Need time to write? To focus on client work? Block out your time. Like turning off notifications, however, time-blocking is the opposite of multi-tasking and has proven to help us minimize distractions. We make fewer mistakes, and we’re much more likely to be as effective as possible.
Creating blocks is easy. Implementing them is more challenging. However, you’ll be more productive and effective, and you’re also stimulating your ability to be creative.
Allow for flow.
What’s flow? You’ve likely felt it but didn’t know it had a name. Flow is a state of mind where a person becomes fully immersed in an activity. Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes flow as, “a state of complete immersion in an activity.”
Being immersed can be defined as a state of focus in which a person is completely absorbed and engrossed in their work. Who doesn’t want that? Takes preparation and discipline to block out all distractions.
I have those same FOMO pings as you, however, we have to create boundaries for our attention.
We can harness our creativity more effectively by allowing us to get into a flow state. Tip: listen to a playlist that isn’t annoying. Or even better, pick a song and put it on repeat (I recommend something from Spotify or another music platform, such as the Deep Focus playlist.
Music is conducive to our creativity because it has a structure, regardless of whether we realize it. Music is a form of “aural stimulation,” impacting the brain, especially your attention span. Although noise is also a form of aural stimulation, music is not irregular in its sonic qualities.
Hydrate. Walk. Stretch.
We all know to do this for health reasons. How about creativity and productivity? Absolutely. Water helps your brain cells communicate with each other, which is essential when you go about your day. Water also clears out toxins and waste that impair brain function. Not to mention, it also carries nutrients to your brain to keep your brain healthy. (Source: NeuroGrow).
New research from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests that the average woman should be drinking about 74 ounces or about 9 cups per day, and the average man should be drinking about 101 ounces or about 13 cups per day. Our bodies are made up of 60% water, so staying hydrated is crucial.
I don’t need to tell you that exercise is essential, right? It’s a struggle some days for me to even take a quick walk, what with dealing with chronic migraines, workload, writing, and family, let alone self-care. And self-care is no slouch in the importance department, either. If all you can make time for are some stretches, do it.
Pay attention to your biorhythms. When are you most productive? Least productive? These questions can help you understand when to focus and when to rest.
Example: I usually go to sleep between midnight and 2 am; however, I’m also super productive in the mornings, so I’ve forced myself to turn everything off by 10 pm and sleep no later than midnight. This practice helps me get up in the morning, knowing I’m at my peak.
Stick to your decisions.
Waffling back and forth on whether to commit to something additional on your busy days is challenging for most people. We don’t want to let others down. However, exhaustion helps nobody if you’re not your best self when you need to be.
What to do? Ask yourself this one simple question: Is this good for me? If yes, do it. If not, don’t. And don’t change your mind. Sticking to the decisions we make is a form of self-care, too. If you aren’t fully committed to something, you’ll ruminate and twist yourself up in knots. Learn that NO is a complete sentence.
Not all activities we must do for our business are joyful (taxes, anyone?), yet knowing when we’re able to commit and when we’re not is crucial.
Ideas: Use your Notes App/Notebook
As a writer and marketer, I constantly have ‘flashes’ where I must write it down or lose it forever. So I’ve taken to carrying around a tiny Moleskine notebook or, if more convenient, putting my notes into the Notes App (I have Mac products).
This sounds like a no-brainer, yet it makes a huge difference when you’re sitting down to work and have all these notes handy instead of searching your busy brain and coming up empty.
Okay, one more!
As business owners (and if you’re an author, you’re a business), we can have busy brain, right? Using these hacks will help your productivity immensely; however, taking a two or 5-minute break to do a guided meditation (I like the Headspace app or check out meditation expert/coach, Indra Bartona) can also do wonders to calm ourselves and remember to breathe deeply.
And that’s it! I have several more, of course (this IS me, after all), like using Slack for managing my assistants or the Circle app to connect with my mastermind group.
Try out what works for you and what doesn’t, and let me know your experiences! I’d also love to hear about your top productivity hacks work best for you. Share below!
Also: I’ve been hosting #BookMarketingChat on my @BadRedheadMedia Twitter timeline for many years now. What’s NEW? Adding a weekly #BookMarketingChat Twitter Spaces! Super easy to join: just click on my Twitter avatar at 11 am pst/2 pm est every Wednesday and listen in.
is social audio, meaning no video; and no requirement to speak unless you want to. Once you join (mobile app is easier at this point), you are in default listener mode and you need to request to speak.
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