By Xenios Thrasyvoulou of PeoplePerHour
Productivity is the holy grail of the entrepreneur. Without it, we fail. But as lone workers, keeping a healthy level of momentum going can be tricky. We’re all mortals, but as entrepreneurs, our ideas aren’t. They have the capacity to grow into something that will outrun us all and become immortal. So, to keep my productivity levels, inspiration (and income) healthy, I use these five daily life hacks to make sure I’m performing at optimum capacity.
1. Wake Up With Amnesia
Each morning, I forget yesterday’s to-do list and rethink my immediate priorities. A lot of people make the mistake of constantly playing catch-up and living in yesterday’s leftovers. Backlogs never go away completely. The only way to live in the future is to ask yourself “What really matters today?” instead of “What didn’t I have time to finish yesterday?” By asking the right question, you’ll find that you focus on much more important, timely things. To translate this into a tangible habit forming motion, keep a notepad handy – not a spreadsheet or word document – and physically start afresh each day. Turn over a new page and make a list while you ponder over your morning coffee, before you’ve been distracted by emails and phone calls. Then work your way through it.
2. Declutter Daily
Close off each day with a physical “clear down” of your desk space. Once you’ve shut down your computer and before you put on your jacket, spend a few minutes literally organising your desk. This may sound simple, but a lot of us entrepreneurs are mavericks and creatives, prone to stashing that scrap of paper or, like me, using the “organise my desk” portion of the day as a midday breather when I’ve had something to work out in my head. But moving this task to the end of the day not only literally closes off your day, giving you the chance to achieve a better life-work balance (it’s hard to switch off when you’re rushing out of the door with that “have I remembered everything?” niggle in the back of your head). Even a few minutes of straightening up can de-stress your day. Allowing you to walk away with a clear head, and, in my experience, a stronger confidence in how your project is coming along. Sort of like an end-of-the-day meditation. As though your desk is a zen garden made of cheap blue desk tidy’s and novelty coasters.
3. Work On the Go
Far from suggesting you squeeze work into every second of commuter time, what I mean is this – get on the move with colleagues. I often hold quick meetings and catch ups on the go, on the way round the corner to get coffee or walking a client down to their car. Getting out of the office and removing the static can really give you a new perspective and this trick has given me some of my most lucrative brainwaves. So if you’re bored of the board room, try taking a colleague for a walk around the block and see if you can hash out the problem on the go.
4. Reward Yourself
As any woman on a diet will tell you, cheating feels so good. If you’ve found yourself storming ahead with a project, you’ll be familiar with the “Victory Haze”, a type of adrenaline unique to the entrepreneur. We succeed, and it’s like someone has hit the accelerator. But just as important to productivity is to reward yourself when you’ve achieved something. After all, we don’t have a boss to pat us on the back. We take our accomplishments in our stride and in doing so sometimes we forget to give ourselves some recognition. Job satisfaction is about the little things, like taking a few hours of downtime, to reward ourselves for everything we have achieved. But choose wisely - The ideal reward is one that doesn’t interfere with your progress.
5. Sack Off The Schedule
For someone who has to remind themselves to stick to a routine each day, it physically pains me to say this – For many entrepreneurs, especially budding start up founders – this just doesn’t work. Allowing yourself to spend an all-nighter on that marketing strategy could make a huge difference, as we all know that special kind of mania that can come with the 5am finish. Not being able to get that project out of your head is what makes you productive after all. So sometimes, let that schedule slip and just go with it. Sometimes the best ideas come to you just as the sun rises. But most importantly of all – Never lose faith in your concept. Because if you do, then who the hell else is going to make it immortal?