It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re starting a new business. Your to-do list grows exponentially, and there’s no one to tell you exactly what you should be doing (sometimes you’re not even sure if what you’re doing actually makes any sense), and without the right time management tools, it can be easy to lose focus. Before you know it, you'll have spent hours stressing about all the things you need to do, without making any actual progress.
By implementing the few tips identified below, you’ll be sure to stay on top of things and increase productivity.
1. Break down your tasks. If you want to be able to stay on top of things you need to have an overview of what actually needs to be done. Especially in the beginning phase of your startup, you’ll have a lot of new, one-off tasks (getting your logo created, building your website, registering your business, etc.). Aside from these requirements, you’ll also have a certain amount of repetitive tasks, which are basically necessary to manage and grow your business (social media, writing blog posts, email marketing, etc.). Write each one down and categorize them into manageable tasks.
2. Start writing a to-do list. This is essential if you want to keep track of all those one-off tasks and make sure nothing slips your mind! I like to use Evernote because I have all my notes in one place and can access them from my laptop as well as my phone (and it’s free). Another favorite amongst time management tools is Asana. Asana is particularly useful if you have other people working with or for you, as you can assign tasks and projects, set deadlines and keep track of your progress and your team members’ progress. It’s also completely free for up to 15 users!
3. Prioritize tasks in order of importance. In order to manage your time efficiently and increase productivity it’s important you know in what order your tasks need to get done, otherwise, you risk getting stuck. So take some time to think about in what order you need to prioritize your tasks, and set deadlines for each task. Add new tasks accordingly and keep your momentum going to complete each of the tasks in a timely manner.
4. Manage your list. I like to check my to-do list every day before I start working, just to remind myself as to what I should focus upon and must achieve that day. It’s easy to get distracted once you start working on something, and in order to increase productivity you want to ensure you’re doing things in the right order. Once you’ve completed a task, make sure you go back to your list and delete that task. You’ll soon find out that deleting, my friend, feels awesome and keeps you motivated!
5. Create a schedule for your recurring tasks. Think about what tasks you’ll repetitively have to do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Be specific here. Don’t just write “marketing”; break it down into each component (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, newsletter, etc.). Determine how much time you can devote to each task. Schedules and target deadlines are fantastic time management tools, as they allow you to keep an oversight of how you allocate your time.
I’ve devised a free worksheet to help you create your own weekly schedule!
Download the free workbook below.
6. Set yourself mini goals. Yes, of course, we all have the big ones, like growing our Instagram account to 10k followers or increasing our page views by 30% by the end of the year. And of course, it’s important to set these big goals as they give you and your business direction, but what’s maybe even more important (at least for your sanity) is setting yourself measurable mini goals that will keep you focused on a daily basis and, as a result, you’ll be progressing! Because progress, and the feeling of getting somewhere is what helps you increase productivity. Otherwise, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and you end up not accomplishing what needs to get done because all you do is worry about your never-ending to-do list!
7. Make sure your mini goals are achievable. Start small, and once you’re feeling confident about hitting your targets, move things up a notch. Maybe you start out by wanting to gain 10 new followers on Instagram per day. While you’re starting to implement strategies and tactics to reach this goal you’ll soon learn what works and what doesn’t and you’ll be able to quickly raise that number to 30, then 50, etc.
8. Take advantage of dead time. Whether you’re early for a meeting or waiting for the bus, use those few minutes to do something productive! Even if you’re only leaving a few comments on Instagram, finding new quotes to tweet, or scheduling a couple of posts, you’ll be surprised how those little things add up!
9. Turn off your notifications. It’s been proven that it takes us approximately 15 minutes to regain full concentration after we’ve been distracted. 15 minutes! Add that up for every time you get distracted by a new email, Facebook comment or new Instagram follower. I love my phone, but I sometimes think it’s a curse because society expects me to be reachable 24/7. Yes, there is that fear of missing out on something really important, but to be honest, once you’ve made the decision to sometimes turn off your notifications, you won’t regret it!
10. Start batching. Batching is another favorite amongst time management tools and basically, means dedicating short periods of time to work on a certain task. Pick a task, set your timer to 15-30 minutes and be sure you’re not going to get interrupted (if you still haven’t turned off your notifications, then at least make sure your phone is out of earshot). Once the time is up, take a short break and start again. By maximizing concentration and minimizing distraction, you’ll be sure to increase productivity.
Remember you can download the free worksheet to design your personal weekly schedule below.
What are your favorite productivity hacks? Let me know in the comments below!