How to start the ‘productive’​ and stop the ‘busy’​

As we rise from the fog of COVID-19 (maybe), a lot of people seem exhausted from the constant work that has been thrust upon them by recent times. Business owners have experienced this is different ways:

 ·      Keeping the business afloat

·      Filling out endless applications for various levels of assistance

·      Juggling people issues

·      Working out the latest health directions and how they apply to business

·      Filling orders from customers with uncertain supply chains

·      Finding the business is booming in times of need (PPE suppliers!!!)

These challenges can make you feel overwhelmed.

Importantly, there is a difference between being busy and being productive. Here are some strategies to make you workday productive in times of stress and uncertainty.

Use lists

Write down a list of things you can conceivably accomplish in a day. Once you have a concrete list in front of you, it’s a lot easier to get started and stick to a plan. A list helps you easily transition between tasks since you won’t have to ponder what’s next.

However, be realistic about what you want to accomplish in a day. If you set a goal of completing 30 tasks in a day and you only finish 10 of them, you probably won’t feel very productive.

Check off or put a line through each task as you complete it. Whether you crossed off one large task or seven small ones, you made progress.

Acknowledge what you’ve accomplished at the end of each day. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Working from a list is not only motivating, but it also gives you a feeling of success.

Recognise the completion of tasks no matter who does them  

Maybe somebody else helped out and completed the task before you had a chance to get it done. That’s okay. Make sure though you acknowledge their efforts in helping you.

Acknowledge when a task is no longer necessary

Sometimes things we put on our list no longer needs to get done. If a task is no longer relevant, it’s acceptable to let it go. Deciding a something is unnecessary is not failure, it is recognition that you are making decisions and gives you a sense of achievement because you are moving forward.

Avoid distractions

Sometimes you really need to focus on tasks and that means making a conscious decision about allocating time to respond to emails or phones calls, rather than responding immediately. Not every phone call or email is that important it needs an immediate response. The problem is they offer an out when things get hard, boring or tedious, don’t fall into the trap of avoidance. Get the task done. If you want to keep your momentum going, always stick to your list.

Pick an hour to work on tasks you’ve been avoiding

We’ve all had sticky notes reminding us to do those tasks we find most tedious or those small jobs that seem insignificant. Set aside an hour each day to focus on completing those lingering, annoying tasks (that will now be on your list). You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get them done.

Assign time to respond – daily

Set aside time to return any calls you missed or emails that need a response. If you keep putting that off, your list of people to respond to will continue to accumulate. When you return calls and emails daily, it’ll keep your momentum going.

Although you may not be able to reach every person, always leave a message that you returned their call. Replying or at least acknowledging emails will also provide a sense of comfort to you and the sender.

Whether it is a phone call or an email, at the very least they’ll know that you’ve made an effort to get back to them.

Wake up earlier

Perhaps you need an extra hour to get things done. Try waking up at 7 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. and see how that works. This can be really hard when you are really ‘busy’. This is something I have started doing and it has been a real breakthrough for me, although I wish it was a 7 a.m. wake up!!! Mine is a bit earlier than that.

Now what?

If you follow these tips, you’ll consistently finish the things that you need to get done. They are not easy to do and sometimes I fail at doing all of them. However, I know as I keep practising and try to get better the outcome will be realised.

You’ll love the way you feel when you light the flame of productivity and be less ‘busy’!