Running your own business isn’t always easy, we know, we’ve been at it for many years now. And there have been times when were were extremely productive and focused, and other when we were we lost focus but not having tangible goals and a clear direction and ended up just pretend working by being busy checking our emails.
I’m sure you’ve been there too. We’ve all gone through periods of being ‘work zombies’ just plugging away at our computers putting in the hours but not really accomplishing anything at all. In fact, I feel like the new work lifestyle often encourages this behavior. The always being on, always responding to emails and social media alerts and simply be there to perform responsive tasks other than proactive and productive tasks. And though this may cut it in the corporate world, this type of auto-pilot behavior won’t cut it when you’re running your own ship.
Being productive isn’t always about getting done as much as you can, but it’s about getting the right things done.
Here are a few tricks we’ve learned along the way that help keep us moving forward:
- Have a solid project managing system in place. Really, this is key. Without this it’ll be nearly impossible to manage all of the projects you have open. We currently use Trello, and we have only amazingly positive things to say about it. But you can also try Asana or Basecamp to see if those tools work for you. I couldn’t imagine trying to plan an productive day without it.
- Make organization and prioritization a daily habit. Odds are, if you’re driving to a new location without a roadmap in hand, you aren’t going to make it to your set out destination. And if you do, it probably took you much longer than it initially should have. That’s why it’s important to have a clear task list of all of your priorities for the day in hand (or online) before you start your day. We take the first moments in the morning to go over all of our daily priorities and create new ones at the beginning of each day. This allows us to have laser focus throughout the day and not get lost shopping on Amazon.
- Plan out your day the night before. And I mean your whole day. Like wake up at 6, go for a run, make a green smoothie, pack a lunch (contents already in mind), bike to work, 9am standup meeting, 9:30 – 11:00 emails, 11-12:30 task 1, 12:30 lunch with coworkers, 1:30-5 tasks 2-4, 5:30 kids soccer game, 6:30 dinner (cooking x)… I’m sure you get the picture. But running through your game plan the night before makes it easier for you to get through your day without feeling stressed out or surprised by what’s coming next. It also helps to look over your work calendar so you already know what meetings you have, when and where.
- When it’s focus time, it’s focus time. And make this a rule that everyone on your team plays by. No YouTube interruptions, no going over and asking people questions in person, just pure uninterrupted work. We use slack to communicate during focus hours. It saves us time and keeps us from wandering around the office distracting ourselves and others. Another good tool could be hip chat – depending on the size of your team.
- Call it a day, plan, and get back into it tomorrow. As a family team, I feel like this is one of the most important rules. We used to confuse night for day, work time with family time and pretty much just worked around the clock. But our toddler isn’t ok with that, and neither should you. If you stay on your tasks throughout the day, you should have no remorse closing your computer and going home at a decent time feeling accomplished and excited for the day to come and your time to spend at home with your family and friends. Of course, adding a few todos for the next day in your project manager tool before you leave is always a wise thing to do so that you can pick up exactly where you left off next time you’re in the office.
I hope these tips will help your startup run more efficiently and we’re always excited about learning new ways other startups organize their time, projects and workdays. So please, comment below!