5 ways to increase efficiency
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Struggling to find the time? Wondering if it’s possible to run a home, family and still build your own business (and maybe even continue with your day-to-day job!)?
You can do whatever you set your mind to. All you need is determination. You need to be determined to devote the little free time that you have to work on your new business instead of resting, watching tv or running around the house frantically tidying up. To be able to fit it all in, being able to manage your time and prioritise are key skills.
In this post, I’m going to introduce a few tips that have helped me work more effectively.
1. Make sure that all your activities add value.
The only way to manage to fit everything into today’s busy lives is to prioritise your time and limit those activities with the least return. Could you limit your TV time or reduce the time you spend running around doing errands? Make a list of all the activities that you normally do during the day and prioritise:
- Highlight those tasks that you can easily reduce or stop doing. My first quick win was to reduce my TV time to 1-2h per week. Another activity worth checking is the amount of time spent on social media.
- Identify other tasks that you could do differently (or less regularly). For example, instead of cooking every day, why not cook extra portions from time to time and freeze them, so that you don’t have to cook every day?
- Get your family involved: find out which activities they can help with and delegate. Even small children can help with little tasks, like taking their dirty dishes to the sink (my 4yr old will happily help with this) or tidy up (this one is a bit more of an ongoing battle!).
If you are serious about running a business you are going to have to compromise. Analise what you spend your time on and what concessions you are willing to make. Every person and family are different, so take some time to think about what activities you are willing to give up or reduce and find the balance that best works for you and your family.
2. Avoid procrastinating.
We all do it sometimes. Remember that time when you received a letter or an e-mail and you just put it on the side to “deal with it later”? It then becomes something that sticks to the back of your mind and keeps nagging at you. In the long run, this takes a lot more energy than if you had just dealt with it straight away.
When you need to deal with an unpleasant task (or any task at all), make a conscious effort to decide whether or not it’s something that you need to do. If you decide that the task needs to be completed, just get on with it and DO IT! If it’s something that you can’t complete just now, then why not set up a calendar appointment to complete the task so that you know it’s scheduled and you don’t have to worry about it. If, on the other hand, you decide that it’s not worth it or that it’s a low priority task that you’re probably never going to get around to, just make a conscious decision to not do it and scrap it from your to do list.
This approach will help you:
- Reduce the amount of time and energy that you spend thinking about low-priority tasks that remain in the back of your mind draining you.
- Avoid negative feelings created when you look at those endless lists of unfinished tasks.
3. Switch off social media.
Avoid distractions like Facebook, Messenger, What’s up and email while you work. It’s very easy to get constantly distracted by social media, so the best way to avoid this is to schedule some time during the day to check your social media accounts and then make sure you turn them off while you are working.
Why not try to schedule some time to answer emails and check social media at that time of the day when you feel less productive? I normally tend to feel a bit tired just after lunch, so I find that when I can this is the perfect moment to check my e-mails while I drink a cup of coffee. Or, if you feel like answering an email or checking social media is something that keeps nagging you, just do it first thing in the morning, or even schedule a couple of time slots a day for this. Whenever you decide to do it, set some time every day for e-mails and social media and then switch everything off while you work.
4. Take regular breaks.
Have you noticed that after you’ve been working on a task for a certain amount of time you start feeling tired and your effectiveness decreases? This is why a good way of increasing productivity is to take regular breaks. Do not just take a break and look at your social media or the news on your laptop. Take a break and move around, stretch, do a couple of exercises, or talk to someone.
There are different opinions on the different lengths of working and rest time that are most effective. The Pomodoro technique indicates 25min of work time and 5min of rest time (if you want to try this, there are several Pomodoro timer applications that you can install). Some studies suggest work/break times of 52/17min or 90/15min. Try different work/break times and see what works best for you. I personally can work well for around 50min and then normally take a 10-15min break. Set up a timer to remind you to take a break.
5. Establish a routine.
If you want to start a Business, you need to commit to it and you need to find the schedule that works for you. It is also important to create a routine so that working on your new Business becomes automatic and starts being less of an effort with time.
I started working at night for 1-2h every night after the girls had gone to bed. At the beginning, it was really hard: I was tired and I would have loved to just sit and watch some TV or some days going to bed straight away. However, after a couple of weeks of doing this consistently, I found I was looking forward to those moments at night when I would work on my book.
Hal Elrod mentions in his book “The Miracle Morning” that it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Find the time of day that works best for you (early morning, evening after the kids go to bed, maybe even nap time?) and stick to it. You need to be able to find the time for it at some point during the day, every day, to be able to establish a routine and make sure that you are progressing and following your dream.
You also need to be flexible though, if you have small children whatever routine you try to start may not work every day or you may need to change your routine to adapt to changes in your children’s routines.
These are only a few of many strategies that you can try to improve efficiency. If this has picked your interest and you want to read more about time management strategies, I found Kevin Kruse’s “15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management” really interesting.
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