Simplify your working day in 3 quick steps
Simplify your working day
How did the summer holidays treat you? Did your kids act like angels? Did you have loads of client work and tried not to worry about it on hols? If like me, you walked a fine tight-rope of playdate swaps and late nights, this blog post is going to come in useful for you, kids or no kids, to help simplify your day going forward, especially for those holidays days or when you don’t have a lot of hours in the day due whether it’s due to lack of childcare or other commitments.
First things first, if you are feeling over-whelmed and too busy, you are not alone. It’s completely normal to feel worn out, especially when you are adding childcare into the mix of running a small business. Watching Instagram feeds of “successful” families enjoying a summer break and wholesome kids being outdoors having fun is not always helpful and adds comparison-itis into the mix. So that might have left you feeling a bit ‘hmph.’
In this article, I will give you 3 tips to simplify your working day. I want to ease the pressure so that you don’t feel stressed about taking some time off to enjoy your family or have some self-care time whilst still growing and moving forward in your business.
Clear your mind AND your desk to lighten your load
Before getting started with an un-muddled day, spend 5 minutes sorting out your workspace. Remove as much clutter as you can and make it a nice space to spend time. When you sit down to do your work, you don’t need your mind wandering off to think about tidying up. Clear space physically and mentally so that you can spread out and use the resources you have available to you.
Do you have a starting work ritual? It’s a great way to signal to your brain that you want to get productive and get going promptly. You decide what it should be, even something as simple as getting a drink to have beside you or lighting a candle.
I am a big advocate for the Pomodoro method so work out how much time you realistically have to work that day and break it down into 25-minute chunks.
Ready? Let’s get started.
3 Tips to Simplify Your Working Day
“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” — William James
To really simplify your day, you need to know what you are actually hoping to achieve and make the tasks as realistic as possible. Firstly, take a look at your to-do list and see if there are any items on there that can be struck off – have you been meaning to do something for three months but never got around to it? Strike it off. It can’t be that important.
Next, look at the list to find out if there is anything you can delegate. This could be both for work or personal life, perhaps its sorting out play dates for the kids for a few days – get your partner involved with some of the mental load. Finding that social media is simply taking too much of your time? There are a host of fantastic VAs who may be able to help and also be a sounding board for new ideas, even on an ad-hoc basis.
The last two categories are the juicy ones, write out your “Grow your Business” and “Maintain your Business” tasks and pick 2 from Maintain and 1 from Grow and make that your list. That’s it, no more than 3 tasks to start with. In order to be more productive, the best way is to simplify and do less not more, but do it really well.
Another note on planning – at the end of your day, re-visit the list and check off the items you did and make the next list for the following day, meaning you can start the day right away.
Get started on your 1st task and make sure that is the one which is going to benefit your business most. If you have a limited time, be objective and focus on the areas that will keep the business moving forward.
2. Take a break!
I talked about this at a recent networking event, but breaks save lives! It’s essential to take regular breaks so that your brain can refresh, you can move your body and generally stay focused on the task in hand.
When we try to work straight through, often even through lunch, that’s when procrastination station kicks in and we can fall into a social media scroll hole. It’s absolutely fine to spend some time scrolling through Insta, but set a timer so that you can re-focus when the time comes.
As I mentioned previously, I love the Pomodoro method, so each time you finish a focused block of work, set a timer and have a proper break. I created a list of 31 ideas for what to do in those 5 minute breaks. Will you challenge yourself to try them all over the holiday period?
Limit your hours. You don’t need to be working all the hours of the day. I find that with a focused list and set hours I am forced to be more productive. I also then get a proper break when I switch off without feeling that I always need to be available for my clients.
Keep an eye on your energy “flow” If you are more productive in the morning, make that the time to power through your list and then build in time for a nap or a snuggle on the sofa with the kids when you are feeling more depleted. One of the benefits of running our own business is that we have the flexibility to do this.
3. Automation tools to un-muddle your day
When thinking about productivity, automation and tools really are your friends. I talk a lot about Trello and Asana and these are fab tools. There are also some other free tools you can use to help simplify your day.
Turn all your notifications off so that you can focus on completing your to-do list and quietening some of the din that comes with being always connected. There are quite a few apps that you can use for this which are either desk-top or phone-based.
Use scheduling tools to plan out your social media content so that you can free up more time to be working on your business. I have some planning resources on my website that help you plan ahead for the most return.
Email can be a real drain on productivity and drafting replies to clients and prospects is time consuming. An alternative approach is to send a voice message. It takes a couple of minutes to record and means you can build a more personal rapport with your contacts.
Sign up to my E-course to put a plan into action – Organise your life and business in 30 days
To-do lists all over the place? Overwhelmed? If some of these ideas have resonated with you, you may find my e-course the perfect resource for you. I will be re-launching it soon!