Before we even talk about productivity advice, let’s start with the basics:
If you’ve just started a business or want to start your own business, it can feel really overwhelming and scary. Trying to figure out how to run a business, track expenses, and find clients is enough to make you want to crawl under a rock and forget the whole thing.
But instead of crawling under a rock, please take this very second to high-five yourself and celebrate what a brave and awesome person you are for stepping out of your comfort zone and building your empire.
I remember how insane it all felt at the beginning, so I want to share some productivity advice that I wish someone would’ve shared with me. I hope it helps!
Find a productivity app
First things first. Don’t try to keep everything in your head. Trying to keep track of everything without writing it down is a one-way trip to mistakes and burnout. Mistakes aren’t a huge deal, we all make them, but burnout is a bitch and will make things so much harder than it has to be.
That’s why I recommend finding a productivity/organization app like Trello or Notion(Notion is a bit more complicated to get the hang of but I LOVE IT) to help. When you can start putting your tasks, goals, and to-dos down in writing, it accomplishes a few key things:
- Eases anxiety because you’re no longer trying to make space for this stuff in your brain
- Makes shit feel real because you put it down in words and can literally LOOK at it
- Keeps you on track (remember productivity over busyness should always be the goal)
- Motivates you to accomplish tasks because it’s satisfying to check things off a list
- Allows you to more easily plan out your days/weeks without forgetting important things
I also recommend selecting a digital calendar (I use Google for everything), that way you can add important calls or deadlines as a secondary reminder. Especially if they’re further out on your schedule than a week or two.
Automate whatever you can
No matter how well you organize your to-do lists, time will get away from you, and you’ll find yourself trapped doing shit that either you don’t want to do but is important, or overwhelmed by a 10-mile to-do list.
Personally, one of the most worthwhile investments I made was automating whatever tasks I could. I specifically do this with social media.
Social media is one thing I really don’t enjoy doing, but I still want to build a brand there. So I use Later and Planoly to schedule out all of my posts for a week (or more, if I’m extra productive), so I don’t even have to think about it.
So find areas in your workflow that don’t bring joy and see if there’s a way to automate them. You can also outsource if you have the budget for that.
Be mindful about prioritizing productivity over being busy
It is very easy to get caught up in busy work. It’s even easier to start doubting your own work ethic if you notice that your work days feel shorter than they did at your day job.
But when you become an entrepreneur, there are definitely days where you’ll be burning the midnight oil, but there are also days where your workday will be shorter.
This is usually because you’re actually being MORE productive and LESS busy. By laying out your important tasks each day, you’ll find yourself accomplishing what matters more quickly because we all have about 3-4 hours of what I call “good brain” time.
These 3-4 hours are when we’re most productive, and when we try to push past that without (at least) a break, we start making mistakes, losing morale, etc.
So just make sure that you are prioritizing the important tasks that will get you to your long term goals, and not getting distracted with “busy work”.
Bonus productivity advice: If you need to, reserve 1- day a week where you worry about admin tasks like answering emails, invoicing, expenses, etc. That way your brain doesn’t have to keep switching modes constantly between deep work and admin work. The world will not end if you wait more than 12-hours to respond to an email.
Rest is ALWAYS, ALWAYS- ALWAYS more productive than burnout
All of us will experience burnout, it happens. However, if you’re constantly pushing yourself to “be productive” or idolizing the 12-hour grind mentality, burnout will appear far more frequently.
Burnout is the antithesis of productivity
You must set boundaries and make time for rest. Especially if your business requires a lot of creative brain time. Rest can make entrepreneurs feel guilty, but it’s SO MUCH BETTER to take a day off BEFORE burning yourself out.
Burnout just leads to work you aren’t proud of, tons of stress, and really negative feelings of self-doubt. Productivity means prioritizing tasks that move you toward your goals, it does not mean working until you can’t function properly.
Stay focused on your goals, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey
Regardless of how much productivity advice we’ll receive as small business owners, it’s still really easy to focus on things we haven’t done yet, or must do. We rarely give ourselves a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come. But it’s so important to our long-term success to be present during the journey.
The most productive advice I can give you is to do whatever it takes to keep your love and passion alive for what you’re doing. As long as you’re moving toward your goals, you will get there in your own way and in your own time.
Celebrate as much as you can, the journey is a lot more fun that way.
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