The Productivity and Time Management
What is productivity?
Let's start with what productivity isn't. Productivity isn't about frantic hustles, mad dashes to the finish line or crossing tasks off your to-do list. Instead, it’s about being strategic with how and where you invest your time and energy.
At its core, solopreneur productivity is purpose-driven action. It's the art of designing a system that consistently steers you toward the right endeavors, making good habits easier to follow and bad ones harder to fall into.
My top 5 time management strategies
1. Minimize context switching: Multitasking isn't just difficult. It's inefficient. When you switch context, your brain is forced to slow down, adjust, and then ramp up again, so you lose the deep focus needed for productive work. So stick to one task at a time. See it through. Then proceed to the next. It's a discipline that pays off.
2. Try the Pomodoro Technique: Set a timer for 25 minutes and dedicate that time to a single task. No interruptions. Then take a 5-minute break. Repeat until you finish everything on your schedule. The 25 minute cycles help maintain your focus and prevent burnout. Plus, knowing a break is coming up can motivate you to work harder during your focused time. Don’t like Pomodoro? Google other time management techniques, experiment, and find what works for you.
3. Turn off phone notifications: Every time your phone makes a noise, it breaks your concentration. So take control and set specific times to check your messages or scroll through social media. Turn off notifications, turn on Focus Mode or leave your phone in another room. You'll be much more focused and efficient when you're not reacting to your devices.
4. Practice time blocking: Allocate specific blocks of time to your tasks, and treat these like appointments with yourself. It's a concrete way to visualize your workday and makes it easier to balance different types of work. I've found that time-blocking organizes my day, reduces stress, and increases my productivity.
5. Stick to a reasonable schedule: Having a clear daily schedule is like having a personal roadmap. It guides your day and helps ensure you spend your time where it's most needed. The best schedules build in smaller tasks earlier in the day so you feel like you're making good headway and allow for breaks and unexpected interruptions.
My secret to productivity
Most people get productivity wrong and cram their schedules, trying to do it all. That's not productivity — that's chaos. So, drop the do-it-all mindset, and embrace the power of doing a few essential things incredibly well.
The secret to running a successful business isn't working as hard as possible; it's working as smart as possible. The articles below reveal more of my productivity secrets.
Looking for more articles about productivity? I have a full list at the bottom of this page.
Simple steps to improve your productivity
Step 1: Know when to say no
As a solopreneur, you're your own boss. For some, this can mean every opportunity that comes knocking feels like a must-grab. The truth is not every project, gig, or request is worth your time. Some will drain your energy and pull you away from achieving your goals. Saying no frees up space for the ‘yeses’ that really matter and for the tasks that help you excel at your craft.
Step 2: Switch up your workspace
If your workspace has been the same for months or years, it may be time for a change. This doesn’t have to mean a full-blown office renovation. It could be as simple as moving to a different room, taking your laptop to the local cafe, or just rearranging your desk. New surroundings can ignite fresh ideas and fuel your productivity.
Step 3: Take regular breaks
When you work for yourself, it's easy to get caught up in the grind. Some days you may push through without taking a breath, which is a quick path to massive burnout. Take breaks to recharge your brain, boost your focus, and keep your productivity engine humming. Grab a coffee, move your body, and get some fresh air and sunshine.
Step 4: Work in a cool space
Finding it hard to concentrate? Check your thermostat. When your workspace feels like a sauna, your productivity is likely to go down the drain. Research has shown that your brain works best when the temperature is comfortable. Heat can make you feel sluggish and distracted. On the flip side, a cooler environment keeps you alert and thinking sharp.
Step 5: Eliminate non-priority tasks
The next time you find yourself overwhelmed, look at the scheduled tasks on your calendar. And ask yourself, "Do these all align with my top priorities”? Identify those meetings, tasks, or favors that don't get you closer to achieving your goals, and eliminate them.
Step 6: Simplify remaining tasks
After elimination comes simplification. What do you have left on your plate, and can you make it more manageable? Perhaps you need to streamline your content creation process or reduce the scope of a project. Remember, less is more — simplicity breeds efficiency, and efficiency leads to greater productivity, so work smarter, not harder.
Step 7: Automate repeating tasks
Now, scan your to-do list to see if there are time-consuming tasks you do repeatedly. Then explore automation for those recurring tasks. Maybe it's invoice creation, booking virtual meetings, or setting reminders for follow-ups. Technology can handle these for you. Invest some time now to set up automations and save hours later. Let technology do the heavy lifting so you can work less and accomplish more.
Step 8: Delegate what you can
If you're a high-functioning solopreneur used to doing everything on your own, this step may be challenging. But the truth is, only some tasks require your direct attention. If something is less valuable than your time, pass it on. Enlist help from virtual assistants or freelancers to ease your load, allowing you to focus on your strengths and areas where you can make the greatest impact.
Step 9: Be realistic and kind to yourself
There's a mentality going around that, to be a successful solopreneur, every minute must count toward revenue. This couldn't be further from the truth, and it's toxic. Being productive doesn't mean squeezing work into every waking minute. It means establishing a work-life balance, or as I like to call it: life-work balance. Prioritize and finish work that needs to be done, but leave room for life outside of work.
Step 10: Get ready for tomorrow, tonight
Crush tomorrow by preparing tonight. Set aside 20 minutes before bed to give yourself a clear vision of what's ahead. Knowing your priorities gives you a launchpad to start the day with intention and focus. Clear your desk, set your top 3 goals, lay out your clothes, create lists, prepare any necessary documents, and firm up your schedule. You'll thank yourself in the morning.
Best productivity books and resources
- Feel Good Productivity by Ali Abdaal
- Organize Tomorrow Today by Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- Make Time by Jake Zeratsky and John Knapp
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
My productivity tool stack
- Testimonial.io: A handy tool to gather and showcase my client testimonials
- Kajabi: My one-stop shop for creating, marketing, and selling courses online
- Slack: Ideal for efficient communication, making email chains a thing of the past
- Trello: A flexible project management tool that keeps me and my tasks organized
- Canva: A user-friendly design tool for creating stunning visuals and branding materials
- Stripe: An easy way to manage my payments and ensure I get paid every weekday and avoid chasing invoices
- Taplio: The best tool to schedule my social media content and track performance with insightful analytics
- Notion: An all-in-one workspace where I write, plan, collaborate, and organize (it's like having a second brain)
- Loom: My go-to for recording online courses and communicating with people, bypassing the need for countless unnecessary meetings
- Google Workspace: The ultimate suite of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration tools, from Google Docs to Google Calendar
Want to see more? Check out my solopreneur tool stack.