Every business owner knows there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Working 50, 60 even 80 hours a week seems to have become the norm. Perhaps sometimes that’s what it takes, but maintaining such a strenuous pace over an extended period can take its toll.
The key to a sustainable workload is not in how many hours you work but how productive you are in those hours. Your morning routine is a great place to start. It’s often that ‘sweet spot’ of time before your real workday begins and you’re dealing with customers, staff or an endless stream of activities.
It’s common for business people to start their day at the computer checking emails. That makes sense, right? Deal with what’s ‘urgent’. The problem with answering emails first is it can create a reactive mindset. The priorities of others hijack your focus and become the centre of your attention.
What if in fact, this wasn’t the most productive use of your early morning hours? Here are a few simple ideas from Bartercard for getting more out of your working day and more productivity from your business.
1. Be a planner
Planning helps you distinguish between what is truly urgent and what merely ‘feels’ urgent. You know that feeling of constantly fixing problems when a whole day can pass and you feel like you haven’t achieved anything? Instead, after you’ve grabbed that coffee (or almond chai latte) start your day by asking yourself “What do I want to achieve today?” That sets your focus and will eventually help train you to be proactive rather than reactive.
The next important key is to take the time to plan each task you want to work on that day. Whether that planning time is five minutes or 30, every minute you dedicate to planning will increase your productivity, ultimately helping you increase profits.
2. Acknowledge your responsibilities with a to-do list
The good old-fashioned to-do list can become the best productivity tool for your business, enabling you to prioritise where you need to focus your attention.
Start by writing down each task you want to accomplish that day, and then break down any complex tasks into specific actions. Do the same with your goals, categorising them into specific, smaller chunks. Here’s a tip – start each action with a verb; something you need to ‘do’ to accomplish that task. This will help make your intentions very clear.
For example, if one of your tasks is to make a sales call, it becomes more focused if you list the actions required to complete the task.
- Research the prospect company
- Prepare options for a sales meeting time
- Make the call
- Schedule the meeting
- Diarise next point of contact with the prospect
Looking at those steps, it may seem too ‘dumbed down.’ You do know how to make a sales call! Just think, however, how many times you get side-tracked when you don’t have a system.
Research shows that being specific about goals and the tasks required to achieve them lessens the likelihood of procrastination and increases the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Planning these simple tasks will also go a long way in building your procedures manual which will save time down the track when training others to complete these tasks.
3. Know your priorities
It’s important to constantly remind yourself of the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ tasks. Only you will know what they are as they relate to your business. It’s so easy to get distracted and pulled into the drama of the moment, but is that where your focus needs to be right now? Is there any chance it could wait until later?
Prioritising your tasks helps keep you on track. Begin your day with those that require the most mental energy. Your mind is often more alert and agile in the earliest hours of your workday, so make that the time to tackle your most urgent tasks. You will also feel a greater sense of accomplishment (and less stress) as you tick them off your list.
4. A word on Circadian rhythms
Circadian rhythms influence how your body functions, including your sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, and temperature, impacting your levels of alertness and productivity. It explains why most people are more productive in the morning between 9:00 and 11.00 and start to flag around mid-afternoon.
It makes sense to work with your body’s natural rhythms instead of against them. Complete the heavy-duty tasks that require more brainpower in the morning while you’re fresh and energised and leave the more repetitive, easy or fun tasks till later in the day.
Productivity is an attainable goal
- If you start each morning by planning, setting up your to-do list, and prioritising, you will start to get into your own rhythm and feel more in control of your day. Then, all you’ve left to do is watch your productivity soar!
For more great tips that can help improve your business, contact Bartercard today.