It is coming towards 2 years since I have started working for myself. Being both the employer as well as employee myself, staying productive is a skill I have leant through time and effort. Managing yourself requires a lot of discipline and will power. But once you learn the art of that, it gives you so much more freedom, flexibility, space and success that comes as a result of creativity and productivity. So here is the summary of what I think has helped me staying productive in professional as well as in personal life.
What needs doing ? To do Lists
The first task of staying productive is to identify what needs doing. I do this at the start of every month (a rough monthly plan) and again at the start of each week (a detailed weekly to do list). I have 2 main lists one WORK and one PERSONAL and then I start by listing down everything I need to get done in one long list before I assign them in to different days of the week. So before the week begins I could see from a bird’s eye point of view how the work is distributed among the days of the week and how balanced my schedule is being spread through. This helps me with the next point in question – scheduling!
When ? A Schedule
It is about getting the most of my day. So after few trials and errors, I have come up with a stable schedule that provides me with most optimised version of a time table. One aspect I noticed earlier on is every time I go out for meetings or to run errands it ends up consuming a lot of time from the day. May it be traffic delays, weather or any other reasons, I realised by going out to do different things on each day waste more time than it should.
So now I have 2 days of the week, which I like to call “Public Days” when I go for work meetings, to check up on staff, run errands, and do anything I have to do outside of my work space. This might not be so simple if you are commuting to work everyday, yet I think it puts your mind at ease when you know there is a designated day or 2 in the week to run around the town, so the rest of the week you can focus on what is at hand, staying productive.
Where? Work Space
It is only recently I have realised how much of a difference the workspace can make when it comes to productivity. Having a clean and tidy desk space whether it is at my office or at home is a key help to my concentration. So every night when I switch off from work, I make sure that my desk is clean and empty for a fresh start of tomorrow.
I know I like minimalistic and clean designs, so when we started doing our home in London, I started with my office, I made it a priority to make sure that I have a nice desk, a comfortable chair and a clean space to work with. It is about the character of my workspace. The more it is inclined with my own style and my preference of interior, the more I feel that I am ready to take on a task after task .
Headspace is the devil in staying productive. While the to-do lists, a nice workspace and a schedule can help me being productive, headspace is the deal breaker. It needs to be there if I am to get done anything worthwhile. Though task lists do provide me with a certain predictability for how the future is planned ahead, time has proven that future can always be unpredictable, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse and no matter of thorough planning will give me the sole control of how events plan out.
So my strategy is to prioritise. It sounds simple, but it is easier said than done. For example if I had a few new orders for my clothing line in the middle of the week and if they are urgent, then I have to prioritise it and move some items in my to-do list in to the category of “Nice to Haves” from “Must Haves”. I do this because being realistic is a key for having a great headspace. If I squeeze in all the tasks no matter what, then I know I will be only heading for a cash and disappointment. So I priorities and sometimes let things go.
Rewards are also important to keep in mind for a positive headspace. When I work around the clock, moving from one task to another, having lunch at my desk, it is important to remind myself why am I doing this? I remind myself the rewards and the career that I am working for and my goals for the future. It keeps me going, it is the fuel that burns inside me and makes me want to work ever smarter, even harder!
“Productivity is never an acident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort! “