Do you feel like you work hard, but never get anything done? This is a common problem that plagues small business owners, freelancers, and solopreneurs.
If you find that you’re not reaching your goals, you’re probably falling into one of these four traps:
How do you get started on your list of things to do? Do you just pick one off the list at random and get moving?
The reason you’re not getting anything done could simply be a case of not setting the right priorities. We do the best job identifying priorities by looking at a list of three to five daily items, and choosing which is the most urgent and important. Then, take the remaining items and repeat. Repeat until you have a list ranked from most to least important.
Your day may be dragging without getting anything done because you’ve failed to eliminate distractions. In fact, you may not even realize what’s distracting you.
We live in an age of constant electronic notifications from the ever-present computer screens that surround us. Add to these distractors the regular interruptions from people and phone calls, and it’s a wonder anyone ever gets anything done.
While working on specific tasks, turn off your electronic devices and don’t check email. Let the people around you know that you’re not to be distracted. If there are phone calls or urgent matters, take care of them quickly, or arrange another time when you can give them your full attention.
Even with a well-prioritized to-do list, you may find yourself getting to the end of the day with several items still left untouched. This is because everything is taking longer than you expected.
A good way to avoid this is to set a time limit for each item. Decide that, for example, you’re going to spend one hour on this project, or you’re going to work on this task for a maximum of two hours and then pick it up again the next day.
We all have optimal times of day when we’re most productive. It’s important to know yours so that you can schedule the most important or difficult tasks during those times.
For example, if you’re at your best in the late mornings, set aside that time to get the most work done. Eliminate distractions and focus on the most pressing tasks during these hours.
We also have optimal times for certain types of tasks. You may be best at problem-solving, for example, in the afternoon after lunch. You might find that evening is your “idea time” when you get inspiration. Scheduling tasks during the appropriate times is the best way to play to your strengths and rhythms to get more done.
You can also improve your efficiency by keeping your goals in mind and making sure that the tasks you spend your time on getting you closer to them.