If you work for yourself, finding enough time to get everything done is job one. But unless there’s somebody out there offering extra hours on sale, we’re stuck with making the best of what we have—24 per day. That’s why it’s important to make the most of them. I’ve compiled a short list of tips to do just that (not in any particular order):
Get enough sleep
I know I sound like your mother, but you need to get a good night’s rest. We don’t really have all 24 hours in the day to be more productive. Six to eight of them should be dedicated to a refueling of our bodies. While we’re not really accomplishing anything specific during that time, we’re actually prepping ourselves for the next 16 hours. So get up refreshed and the day goes down much easier.
Outline your day
Successful projects typically start with an outline. It creates a working roadmap of the journey ahead by organizing tasks, eliminating those that are not important and putting them in the right order.
Do the same for your daily outline. If you outline what is realistic to get done, you can prioritize them, delete the superfluous and optimize how you go about executing them. Don’t overfill your day with stuff to do. Not only will you not get through them all, you’ll only end each day a little more flustered. The solution? Allocate realistic blocks of time for each. Once you’ve done that you might realize you’ve exceeded your daily allotment of hours and you can trim your outline appropriately.
Many of us need to focus on whatever we’re working on without interruption. Don’t be so quick to dig into your emails, check your Facebook page or answer every phone call as it comes in. Bundle those activities as an item on your daily outline. Take a break at a preset time in the day to do them. That’s when you can return calls. Check your emails. Have a little fun with Twitter and Facebook. But don’t get carried away. Stay faithful to your time allotment.
Progress vs. perfection
While perfection is a truly admirable trait, few of us fully attain it. And its pursuit can be a real obstacle to getting things done. That doesn’t mean you don’t do your best work. Just don’t let it get in the way of forward motion.
Instead, get to work and make some progress. “Get ‘er done” as Larry the Cable Guy says. As you move through your outline, you’ll find things will start to fall into place. You will always have time to go back later and fine tune (at least you can get closer to perfection). Just keep your eyes on the road, do your best and things miraculously get done.
Take a break
All work and no play… Well, you know the rest. Your brain needs a breather. As you plow through your outline, take a few times to give it a rest. Do something fun. Watch a dumb TV show. Take the dog for a walk. New oxygen molecules will magically creep into your skull and provide a fresh new start when you get back to it.
That’s it. Five simple, yet effective tips to make your day a little more productive. You may not be able to squeeze more hours into your day, but you can certainly make those you have more rewarding.