Do you want to be more productive? As entrepreneurs, we work more than eight hours a day, more than five days a week. Not only that, we’re often pulled in several different directions.
Here are five productivity hacks that I use to get more work done in the day.
1. Only Answer Emails During Specific Times of the Day
Rather than becoming a professional email answerer with a job on the side, remember that email is just a means of communication. You don’t interrupt important meetings to take phone calls (or at least you shouldn’t), so don’t interrupt your workflow to answer emails.
Shut your email window, and turn off all email notifiers. For useful tools and tips, check out my post on how to get stuff done by managing your overflowing inbox.
2. Keep Your Workplace Clean
In his book, Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain talks about restaurant line cooks who often end up in the weeds, meaning they get buried under backed up orders. They can’t get a handle on their work, and are stressed and frazzled by the chaos.
One cause is having a dirty mise-en-place, (pronounced “meez on plahs”).
From the French for “put in place,” it means to gather the supplies and tools you’ll need to cook, and keep them organized.
Bourdain talks about a dirty mise causes so many problems, and how chefs can avoid it just by cleaning while they work, even if it’s just a wipe down with a towel or straightening ingredients.
Keep your own mise clean throughout the day, and you won’t feel like you can’t keep the chaos under control.
3. Consider Theme Days or Time Blocks
I’ve found theme days + time block combination to be extremely helpful.
That’s when you choose a particular day for meetings, for developing ideas, for business development, and so on.
Work only on those things that fit that theme. No meetings on writing day, no deadlines on meeting days, and so on.
You can also break the days into smaller time blocks. You’re answering emails twice a day now, so try reading your RSS feeds in the first 30 minutes of your day. Or do your deadline work every day for three hours before lunch — no meetings, no reading.
Focus only on those tasks during those blocks and don’t do anything else. Similarly, don’t interrupt your other work time to read articles, answer emails, or let other distractions interrupt that work.
I like using the Pomodoro technique where I block my time in 15 minute intervals. A great tool that can help you with this is TimeDoctor.
4. Wake up Early
The best thing I did for myself was starting to wake up early. No that does not mean get less sleep.
You need to get good sleep, but make a habit of staying up early (and not staying out too late).
I wrote an entire article about sharing my experience of waking up early.
5. Eject Anything That Doesn’t Move You Forward
This means getting rid of anything that doesn’t help you in your work — projects, committees, organizations, and anything that’s been on your wishlist for two years.
If you’ve had the same old XYZ for Dummies book sitting on your desk for the last two years chances are you’re not going to get to it. Recycle it or donate it to your library. It’s cluttering up your mise, and distracting you from everything else.
Similarly, avoid projects and committees that don’t help you with your work. That doesn’t mean drop everything and focus solely on your work because life will get boring. But be selective, and choose the things that help you in the long-term.
There are all kinds of productivity hacks you can use to make yourself more efficient. What are some of your favorite hacks? Leave me a comment below, and let me know.