Traditionally, productivity tips come in the form of creating a better to-do-list. We’re not going to do that today, I promise. List are important, but being a productive business person entails so much more. Things like managing your environment and energy reservoirs are often overlooked, but for an entrepreneur, business owner or CEO, all of these things are critical. It’s been my experience that being productive is the result of being a high performance person. Not just a producer.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way on high performance and productivity, all in which I’m still learning to master:
Take Care of the Machine
You may work yourself like a machine, but if you don’t take care of your body and mind, your machine will break down. A car needs gas and maintenance to maintain functionality and you need food and rest. You can do nothing and ride the car until the wheels fall off. That usually is a more costly route do to expensive repairs. Repairs that are a result of neglect. Don’t neglect your machine. Getting the proper amount of sleep and nourishment is essential for maximum productivity. Of course you can deprive yourself of sleep and still get things done, but you’ll operate at a sub-optimal level. Who wants to do that? It will be harder to do simple task, you’ll forget things, and it will be much more difficult to focus. Productivity starts with a well-rested and nourished you, so take care of the machine.
Create Work Preferences
If you work with other people, it’s a good idea to communicate your personal preferences. I first learned this idea in the book, Teach What You Know. The author Steven Trautman speaks about the importance of a mentor setting guidelines and communicating personal preferences to her pupil. However, this idea works well in any situation personal or business where you need to communicate with people. Your personal preferences are not just for you, it’s a way for people working with you to understand the best ways to contact and interact with you.
Block Your Time
One of my favorite productivity tools is block time. Block time is when you schedule a set amount of time to work on one specific task or a group of task that relate to one specific project. For instance, you may set up two hours block time to work on one project, or you may schedule one hour block time to answer emails and questions that you’ve received throughout the day. The key is focus and no interruptions.
Something else I like to do with block time is to use a timer. I set the timer for the allotted block time, and this allows me to focus completely on the task and not use any mental energy worrying about getting lost in my work.
Right now, you may be thinking the concept of block time sounds nice, but you are interrupted far too much in the day for this to be an effective tool. Well, refer back to identifying and communicating your work preferences. There will be times when blocking time will be difficult or even impossible, but no one said being productive would be easy.
Create Productivity Rituals
Tony Schwartz, the author of, The Power of Full Engagement and CEO of The Energy Project, is known for the concept of productivity rituals. A productivity ritual is a routine that you follow to maximize productivity. Creating a ritual will be difficult in the beginning, but after some time the ritual will become automatic. This will you to think about them less and use less mental energy. I don’t know any entrepreneur, business owner or CEO that doesn’t need more energy. Do you?
Here are four things that Tony does in his own productivity ritual:
- Keeps a specific bedtime
- Prioritize one key test per day
- List new ideas and task
- Question yourself when triggered
Tony’s productivity ritual may not work for you. That’s why you need to create your own. Maybe you need to wake up at a certain time, eat certain foods, and start your day the same way. Maybe you should exercise, first thing in the morning to make you feel stronger and more alert throughout the day. These are just some general ideas, now think about what would be a good ritual for you.
Take a 15 Minute Vacation
Time off is one of the most important, but least used productivity tools. I had to learn this the hard way. You can’t be productive if your energy reservoir is 100% depleted. That’s why taking time off to rejuvenate and renew is a great idea to increase productivity.
When I say, “time off” you’re probably thinking I can’t take any time off. Well there are many forms of time off. It doesn’t have to be a vacation in the Hamptons – although that would be nice. It doesn’t even mean taking a vacation at all.
Something as small as scheduling 10 or 15 minutes breaks throughout the day can be a nice way to hit the reset button. During the 15 minute break you need to try to unplug completely. This will take some practice – okay- this will take a lot of practice, but once you’ve mastered it, you can take a 15 minute vacation. I like to use a timer for breaks as well, this way I don’t have to think about or worry about the length of my break.
Breaks or cool, but sometimes you do need to get away. Make sure you pamper yourself and do the things that are most relaxing to you. Oddly enough, going to the movies is relaxing to me and one of the only times I’m not thinking about how to get more customers. I like massages too.
What is it that relaxes you? Sit down, an architect a “YOU” day. Then get it on the schedule and enjoy yourself. You’ll come back to your business fired up and ready to dominate.