Do You Have a Thriving Business? Prioritize to Improve Productivity
It’s hard to deal with, actually, because you spend so much time learning how to launch your business and probably less on learning how to cope with it when it’s running like a fine-tuned engine. Just because a business is successful doesn’t mean it can’t be stressful!
Here are a few tips on how to deal with business when the phones literally won’t stop ringing–and you need to buckle down and get to work!
Prioritize tasks. The other day I was overwhelmed with a bunch of tasks that needed to get done. There were interruptions–emails coming in, distractions in the office–and then there were other interruptions that needed to be taken care of, such as phone appointments. Unfortunately we often have different tasks and happenings going on throughout the day for multiple projects. The key is to separate what’s imperative from what’s not.
If I sit down to work on Project A and emails come in about Projects B, C and D, I have to think if it’s a priority to even have my email open, or to respond to those emails right away. At the same time, if I have a call for Project E, I need to switch gears and focus on that, then return to Project A (assuming I can handle B, C and D later).
- Block your time. By focusing on one task at a time, you tend to get less scattered. That may mean letting calls go to voicemail or logging out of your email account. I often find that when I get interrupted, I not only become less productive on the task I work on but I get frazzled and start thinking about all the other things I have to do.
Unplug. I know you’ve heard this one before, but it really does work when you need to bite the bullet and get things done. Turn off whatever you can, feasibly. Sometimes that means not just letting calls go to voicemail or not responding to emails right away; it can mean limiting distractions on your computer screen.
I tend to have multiple windows open, going back and forth a lot, but when I really need to get down to work, I like to only keep relevant windows open on the computer. My biggest offenders are email, TweetDeck and Facebook.
Take breaks to reconnect. Taking a break from work is essential to regroup and refuel both mentally and physically, but I find that when I haven’t checked email for an hour, I am excited to see what’s come in. When you have certain things turned off like your phone or are logged out of email, make time periodically to go in and check for messages.
It’ll help you stay connected yet you can simply close out of email when you need to get back to work. You can choose to respond to messages during this time, but make time devoted to checking accounts and such, because if you do that intermittently while you work, it’s a surefire way to get side-tracked.
Take a real break. Whether you go for a jog at the end of the day or make a lunch date during the middle of the day (always harder for me because I want to get things done, then take a solid break), you may find that a real break helps. Not only in the morning or at the end of the day, but in the middle. If your break is to do some chores and that helps you refocus, great.
For some people, it’s hard to pick up a book and read or unwind with your favorite television show when you have work brewing. But it can be an effective way to remind yourself that, really, the world doesn’t end if you take an hour in the middle of the day for yourself.
Warning: This can be hard at first because you may feel like a slacker, but really, you’re not if you’re working hard the other 90% of the time.
By simply focusing on baby steps, you can make it through a day when you have steady appointments and deadlines that need to be met. Being conscious about what you need to do is a huge accomplishment that will help you prioritize and overcome. And when the work day is over, be sure to make time to do something special just for you.