Do you ever sit back, at the end of the work day, and realize you didn’t actually get anything done? Sure, you worked hard all day answering email and phone calls, dealing with clients, working on your social media marketing and more, but you didn’t make headway on your to-do list. Now your list for tomorrow is even longer and you wonder how you’re going to do it all.
Staying busy during the day is easy – there are lots of ways we can be busy without doing anything of import. This happens in every work environment, but staying motivated when you work from home can be especially challenging.
The key to getting things done is working effectively in the time you have, no matter how long or short that time is. We’ll review six strategies you can use together, or individually, to keep you on track:
• Keep it simple – break down the to-do list • Do the “hard things” first
• Turn off email
Keeping it Simple
There is nothing worse than staring a big job in the face and wondering how you will ever get it done. Too often we put items like “Get New Clients” or “Make More Money” on our lists without a clear direction of how to do those things. Or maybe you just have a series of jobs you know will take several hours.
Getting the big jobs done starts with one small step. And then another. If you have a big task on your list, take a few minutes and break it down into a series of smaller tasks. Let’s say you want to tackle the “get new clients” task – consider what you need to do to get those clients. Maybe you need to draft a series of query letters, or write a few blog posts. Maybe you need to update your website or spend a few minutes engaged in social media marketing. Maybe you need to reach out to qualified vendors in your field and chat with them about working together.
Once you have those smaller items listed, tackle them one at a time, crossing them off as you finish them. Each of these things will take a relatively small amount of time, but will leave you with a huge sense of accomplishment.
Do the Bad Things first
We all have things we dread doing, so we avoid them or put them off until the last possible moment. The problem with doing that is we cannot help but think about those things, which results in less effective work habits.
Get it done. Get it out of the way and get onto the things you like doing.
It’s hard to start the day doing something you really don’t want to do, but it’s the best way to get past it and to tackle everything else on your list with a clear head.
Turn off the Email
How many of you wake up each morning, roll over, and check email or another social media site? You are not alone. But here’s the thing: most of us are most efficient early in the morning. That is the time we can get the most done, assuming we aren’t distracted by new email.
Allow yourself one hour each morning to tackle your to do list. Do the thing you dread; get it out of the way. Finish up a few items from the day before; lay the groundwork for a new project. Finishing something before you get distracted by the demands of the day allows you to tackle those demands feeling like you’ve already accomplished something.
I answer client email at 10am and 2pm Monday through Friday. Most days I don’t even open my email until 10am. That gives me an entire hour to work uninterrupted while I am at my most efficient. By the time I turn to my inbox, I’m feeling pretty good about the amount of work I’ve already done and I tackle new demands with a positive mindset.
This is a guest post by, Jenn Bebb , photographer, author, mom, wife, CEO of the What If Conference!
Check out her books: Photo Fusion and most recently published, Beyond Auto Mode.