Mindset Shifts to Enhance Productivity
In lieu of a direct set of intentions for this lesson, I want you to take note of each mindset shift as you read about it and determine what shifts can be made in these areas of your life right now!
Less meetings = more time.
It is imperative that you lower the number of meetings that you take in a day or even a week. There are often a million reasons why we would meet face to face with people. However, few of them are a true necessity. If you are finding yourself with not enough free time and you are taking meetings every time you are asked, then you are creating an environment destined to burn you out. It’s important to factor in the travel time and the long goodbye time when you are scheduling meetings. That 30-minute window that you planned to respond to emails in, IT ISN’T REAL, there is no 30-minute window. That window is already spoken for by a trip to the bathroom between clients, driving time, chit chatting and so on. Lower the number of meetings you take down to the bare essentials. Meetings to say ‘no’ to:
Can I pick your brain meetings - I know that we all want to be nice and take those meetings on. But, you are already short on time, they aren’t paying you, they aren’t likely to pay you and you aren’t a terrible person for saying no. Instead, ask them what they need help with via e-mail, take those questions into consideration and link them to relevant blog posts on your website or use their questions as a starting point for blog content that you can link other people to later.
In-person sales meetings - Sales meetings should happen over the phone, even if you are in the same city! I know that can be tricky, I even prefer face to face interaction when I’m doing sales calls. I connect to people a lot more naturally if I can see their body language and understand their response to the things I say. But, I also know that a 30-minute consultation quickly turns into a 1-2 hour long free information chat. So, I always do these over Skype or Facetime. Get the face to face interaction if you need it, but, don’t waste hours on each individual sales call. Taking in-person sales calls prevents your business from being scalable. If you want to book more and more clients, you will have to make these systems more and more efficient. Build systems that are prepared for the growth that you should expect from your business.
Networking coffee dates - OK, so here’s the thing, as your business grows more and more people will show up asking you to grab coffee with them. That’s so lovely! The trouble is that you aren’t getting paid to have coffee with them and every moment spent out is time taken away from your work which means time taken away from your life. So, choose these wisely. Do you think that you could truly benefit one another? Do you even want to have coffee with this person? Set limits on the amount that you will take on in a month. I personally only take 2 of these per month and I always do them on Fridays and only with people who have already made an impression on my social media in some form or another. Set your limits and your standards or it will be very easy to find yourself meeting with people who aren’t paying you, every single day with no return on that time investment.
- Meetings that can happen just as easily over the phone or through email - any kind of content that you could cover in a more efficient way should be done that way. I’ve been called to meetings before only to find out the person just had a few simple questions for me that could be answered over the phone. Always know why you are going to a meeting and if it can be addressed outside of face-to-face time, then do your best to tackle that remotely.
You want to reserve your face to face time for only the things that truly bring in revenue or aid in your growth. The things that make that extra energy worth it. Your time is valuable and is impossible to get back. Give it sparingly and with wisdom!
Maintain regular e-mail hours!
One of the most common sources of exhaustion for my clients is managing their inbox. They are swamped with responding to emails and feel like they have to stay on top of it all day everyday. This causes them to check their e-mail all day throughout the day therefore, they end a lot of work days only having responded to emails. It’s exhausting because they are constantly on their toes, never able to tackle the items on their to-do list and they feel bad about themselves on top of it. Instead of operating reactively to your email account, I suggest structuring your work day with set email hours.
Morning: Spend 1 hour in the morning reading all of the emails from the day before. Whatever you can accomplish task wise in that hour, just go ahead and do it. If there’s a task that comes up through your emails that can’t be finished easily within that hour then add it to your to-do list for the day.
Mid-day: check quickly in on your account just to have a sense of what’s going on in there. Delete any spam messages, but, otherwise, don’t spend a ton of time responding and do not add tasks to your to-do list. This is also a great time to send any emails that you need to send that day.
End of day: Respond to any emails that are left to answer. If you haven’t quite gotten to their task yet, just let the sender know it’s on your radar and you will be getting to it asap. Then, rest easy for the night, don’t look into your inbox again until you start work the next morning.
Prepare for ‘future you’ now.
Always think about how your actions are affecting yourself in the future. You have the opportunity to either make your life easier or more difficult as the week goes on. Being intentional to set yourself up for success will always save you stress and heartache. You are less likely to drop the ball and more likely to approach work days with ease. This can be as simple as 1-2-3. By that I mean, I suggest doing the following three things to set future you up for success:
Prep your to-do list for the next day - At the end of each work day I suggest touching in with what you accomplished and what you need to accomplish the day ahead. This will help you to start your next work day fully prepared and ready to go.
Go to sleep at a reasonable hour - I know that current you wants to stay out and feel social, but, the future you needs to wake up feeling rested and ready to go. Do future you a solid and get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water and don’t spend too much time on your phone before bed.
Check the weather, set out your clothes & visualize the day - Determine what you want the next day to look like before it even gets there. Know where you’ll be working, what you’ll be eating and lay your clothes out in advance. Save yourself time in the morning and enter into the next day knowing what to expect and what direction you are heading in.
Stop trying to make multi-tasking a thing.
Multi-tasking isn’t real. It’s actually just you splitting up the skill and attention you possess between lots of small things one at a time for short periods of time. Downfalls of multi-tasking include: memory loss, loss in productivity, fatigue, enhanced susceptibility to distractions and even increased risk of anxiety & depression when done repeatedly over long periods of time. Research has proven that you are much more effective when you focus on one task at a time. So, choose something, focus on it, give yourself plenty of breaks and watch your productivity skyrocket.
I stress out just watching someone else rush through things. Moving carelessly and sloppily to get a task finished more quickly. Their limbs flailing about as they try to beat the clock. When you rush, you actually end up wasting time, you make more mistakes that need to be corrected, you move aimlessly through a project and lose track of what you are wanting to accomplish, and quite frankly you put out lackluster work. Instead, even if you are in a hurry, I suggest moving with intention. Create a clear plan of what you want to accomplish, use the tools provided in this module and focus on one task at a time working at a reasonable speed. You will accomplish more in less time and your work will need less revision.
Prioritize your tasks.
When your to-do list is piling up, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel and therefore it can feel impossible to prioritize which tasks need to be finished first and what you can do in your life to feel the way you want to feel. That’s unfortunate because prioritization is one of the key factors to staying productive and effective in your day to day work life. If you can stay on top of what tasks truly need to happen first, then you will have the key to knowing when to take breaks.
I suggest using the “I must, I should, and I want” method. Each day ask yourself what you must do to create the most impact that day, what you should do to build a better future and what you want to do to so that you may enjoy your life more completely.
Another great way to know how to prioritize is to set those monthly, weekly and daily tasks mentioned in module 2. By using that method you are naturally creating your priorities for the month, week and each day.
- Again, in lieu of intentions for this session, I simply want you to touch base with each of these skills, see what needs to be altered in your work life to make more room for free time!