Are you tired of spinning your wheels? Maybe you’re hustlin’ and bustlin’ but still feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, or maybe you’ve held onto the excuse that there isn’t enough time in the day for you to do your best work.
Productivity is an art that we’re all trying to master. You know what your goals are and what you need to do to finish them so why is it SO hard to get them done?
If you feel like no matter how hard you try you’re just spinning your wheels, then it’s a sign that it’s time to restructure your workflow to one that puts you into the right “flow state” to do your best work.
So today I’m sharing my top 8 tips to structure your workday so you can use your time more efficiently and be your most productive self.
1 – Define your big 3
Raise your hand if you struggle with prioritizing your most important tasks *raises hand* I’ve never been that good at decision making and prioritizing until I heard about the “BIG 3”.
The “BIG 3” is a concept I learned from Jenna Kutcher and have since adopted into my own daily routine because it’s ah-mazing.
Basically, your Big 3 are your top tasks that are the biggest needle movers for your business and will have the most impact on your growth. You work on your Big 3 during the hours that you’re in your most productive state.
For example, my big 3 for the day is to write a blog post, work on an outline for a new course I’m creating and write out a plan for starting a podcast. These are all staples that help me move forward in my business and I work on them early in the morning when I’m in my flow state.
2 – Break big tasks down
Once you get the hang of determining your big three for the day, you’ll be more prepared to tackle the items on your to-do list without jumping from task to task, opening a million tabs in your brain and getting lost in the overwhelm.
When you look at your Big 3 list as a whole, the items may look way too big to handle right now, so break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Add bullet points or dashes beneath each big 3 item to break down every individual task you need to complete for each item.
What this looks like for me is, if I have “batch write blog posts” on my Big 3 list then I’d break it down like this: I can reasonably write 4 blog posts early in the morning when my productivity levels are high, so I get to work. Each blog post requires me to create an outline, draft it in Word and transfer it to WordPress, make any necessary changes, embed links into it, make sure it’s SEO ready and proofread it a few times.
When all of those smaller tasks are complete, I’ve accomplished ONE of my “Big 3” for the day. By structuring my workday based on my big 3, I’m much more focused, relaxed, and intentional with my work rather than trying to operate from a frazzled, stressed out state.
3 – Minimize distractions
With all of the background noise in the world from the buzzing of phones to chatty coworkers, it’s easy to fall prey to the inevitable distractions around you.
Distractions divert your attention away from the task at hand which only makes your brain work harder to redirect its focus back to what you’re working on. This sucks up so much energy and time.
But we can tackle these distractions by one simple rule – CREATE before you CONSUME. What do I mean by this? When you’re in your most productive, focused state, commit to finishing your big 3 before checking your inbox, scrolling through your Instagram feed, replying to Facebook messages, etc.
Before I do anything, I make sure that I’m approaching my workday with my top priorities in mind, and I’m not letting app notifications, emails, phone calls – anything – break me out of my flow state.
I’m also very passionate about setting boundaries with people. Yes, it can be hard sometimes, especially when it comes to friends inviting me to things, but sometimes I have to say “no” so I can show up for myself and do my best work.
4 – Makeover your workspace
Although it’s often overlooked, your workspace has a direct effect on your mood and productivity levels. When your workspace is “bleh” then you’ll feel the same way. Just as if your workspace is messy and disorganized, it reflects the tension and anxiety you feel.
So look at your workspace – is that setup helping you stay focused and doing your best work? Does it motivate and inspire you? Or, as Marie Kondo would say, “does it spark joy?”
If the answer is “no” then that’s a sign it’s time to change things up.
First off, I suggest starting off by decluttering and organizing your office space. Go through your files and get rid of any unnecessary documents. Tidy up your desk, rearrange items and put anything left out back into its original spot.
Next, it’s time for the fun part – redecorating! Now if you work in an office cubicle, then you’re space may be limited, but there are still some things you can do to spruce up your work area. Pictures of your family, small plants in the corner and a cute lamp are common staples.
If you have an at-home office, you can burn candles or use an essential oil diffuser. My desk is always showered in as much light as possible, so I have candles, a salt lamp, string lights and of course, natural light from my window. All of these things combined create the positive vibes I need to do my best work.
5 – Develop systems and routines
Systems and routines are your best friend as an entrepreneur! With set routines in place, you won’t have to constantly think about the “next step” to take, all you have to do is follow the path already set out for you.
Decision fatigue is a real issue that can rob you of the energy you need to stay focused on your work. So by having set systems or routines in place, you allow yourself the freedom to use your energy for more important tasks like your Big 3. No more are the days of bouncing around from task to task, my friend.
A great way to streamline your workflow is by automating recurring tasks. For instance, as a blogger I’m constantly having to pump out content for social media so I use an app that schedules my posts to every social media platform for me without even having to think about it.
Another great way to streamline your workflow is through task batching. I’ve heard about this through the grapevine over the years but this year I finally decided to try it and (not to sound dramatic) it’s honestly changed my life!
I used to have so many tabs open in my brain and I felt so overwhelmed by my 10 page to-do list that I’d simply shut down and procrastinate. Now I don’t have to worry about that because I batch create all of my work months ahead of time so I’m not doing everything last minute. I’ve taken the guessing game out of it and I know exactly what my future looks like, I know exactly how to get the results I want, because I’ve mapped it all out ahead of time.
The only way that I’ve been able to do this is through task batching, which is basically grouping a long list of similar tasks together to complete during a dedicated time period.
For example, I’ll pick a weekend to batch write 12 blog posts and 12 emails so I don’t have to worry about it for the next 3 months. Then I can use that time to focus on bigger projects. It may seem really overwhelming at first but I promise that once you do it a few times it’s a breeze!
6 – Set boundaries
Look, I know how hard it is to shut off work at the end of a crazy busy day with people demanding your time and I know how hard it can be to refrain from going out with friends because FOMO is real. But creating clear boundaries around our work, relationships and even with ourselves is vital for our success and wellbeing.
Maybe you have a strict no social media during work hours policy, or a promise to not look at your emails during the weekends. Whatever the case, it’s important to be clear with your friends and family about what your boundaries are.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve really had to learn how to prioritize my time and say “no” to friends when I desperately needed to get something done. It’s not always easy, or fun, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order to reach your goals.
I read a quote by Dave Ramsey the other day that sums this up perfectly, “Live like no one else now, so you can live and give like no one else later.”
7 – Take breaks often
Isn’t it ironic that spending time away from work makes you more productive? In fact, you’re only at your peak performance 90 minutes at a time before fatigue hits.
You may feel the urge to pump yourself up with caffeine to give you that extra boost of energy to push through, but it’ll only leave you feeling more unfocused.
What I like to do is set a timer on my phone for 90 minutes, get rid of any distractions and get to work. Then after the 90 minutes is over I give myself a 30 minute break to go on a walk or eat a snack before diving right back in.
I’ve found that taking periodic breaks really helps me get into a flow state so I can perform my best and do my most focused, productive work.
8 – Press pause on your email box
It’s so easy to get sucked into the black hole that is your email inbox. One “I’ll just check my inbox really quick” turns into hours of replying, forwarding, and sorting. Sooner or later you end up lost in an endless sea of emails and the next thing you know is you’ve spent your whole day replying to people.
While email is important for managing your business, I think we can agree that there’s more productive ways to spend your time. That’s why I structure my workday around getting my top priorities done before I tackle my inbox.
It’s a simple rule I’ve set for myself and it’s really effective in motivating me to get my top priorities done before anything else.
Alright my friends, I’ve just covered 8 simple strategies to structure your workday so you can reach peak productivity levels and manage your time like a boss. By establishing these habits, you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish a week, a month and even a year from now.