6 ways to increase productivity by reducing your workload.

by Tara Fitness
Increase Productivity

(Sounds counterintuitive, I know).

Today’s the day. You have a tonne of work to do and you’re committed to flying through your task list like Tom Cruise in a fighter jet.

BUT…

*Ding* your best friend sent you a message so you check it and reply, scheduling coffee for Saturday and getting the goss about last weekend’s wedding.

You click out of messages and the little red icons scream at you, dragging you in like a pack of minions. You tumble down the rabbit hole of checking your Facebook notifications, scrolling through your feed – oh look, isn’t he just the cutest puppy you’ve ever seen.

On Instagram, you’re stalked by images of the tastiest food you’ve ever seen. ‘I’m hungry’ you think – but your peanut butter sandwich doesn’t quite cut it.

*Ting* a Skype message pops up. “Are you ready?” ‘Oh crap’ you think. ‘Is it already 1 pm?’

~~~~~

I don’t know about you, but some days I feel like I can spend 10 hours at the laptop and still not get anything done. What’s worse, I walk away from the laptop at the end of the day feeling like I’ve an elephant-sized to-do list hanging over my head and I can’t switch off.

Generally, when I feel like this, it’s a sign something is wrong with my daily routine. More often than not, I’ve let productivity killers seep into my schedule and they’re sucking up the time I should be using to get my work done.

If you’re feeling a similar sense of overwhelm, you might find you’re suffering from a similar problem. Here are 6 strategies you can use to increase your productivity while reducing your workload – leaving plenty of time for a life outside of work:

1. Batch Email to Increase Productivity

Leaving your email inbox open on your laptop’s background, or worse, on your phone, is a sure-fire way to shatter your productivity. The *ding* of a new email will scream at you until you pick up your phone and the notifications on your desktop will likely disrupt your focus. Either way, you’re immediately distracted from the task at hand and it’ll likely continue to be a disruption until you deal with it.

A sure-fire way to prevent email disrupting your day is to email on your terms. If possible, check your email inbox once per day and do your best to deal with everything in your inbox while you’re there. If you get a lot of emails or have to stay in contact with people, schedule 2-3 time slots throughout the day where you check your email. Again, deal with everything in your inbox.

When it’s not a specified ‘email’ time slot, don’t check your email. Log out of your inbox on your phone and your desktop. Don’t let someone else’s schedule disrupt yours because it was the right for them to hit ‘send’ on an email.

2. Batch Social Media to Increase Productivity

As with email, batching social media is another great strategy to increase productivity. Set aside an hour per day (although you may not need that much time) to check your email and social media feeds together. This way, you work through all of your communication tasks at once and don’t have to switch focus. 

To batch your social media, start with posting the content you’d planned for that day as that’s the most important task.

Then, always ensure you reset your notifications to zero on every social media platform you check, working through those notifications to ensure there’s nothing important in them. If you need to reply to a notification or message, reply immediately to remove it from your task list.

The final part of social media batching is to scroll through your social feeds (if you feel like it) and engage with other people on the platform.

By doing this, you give yourself the reward of checking social media after you’ve completed more important tasks and avoid falling down the rabbit hole of social, only to resurface hours later with plenty of tasks still on the to-do list.

3. Block Social Media Feeds & Delete Apps to Increase Productivity

Have you ever felt like you should be working but, no matter how hard you try or how much caffeine you drink, you can’t find the energy to do any real work? Scrolling through social media and checking email seems fine, but anything that involves creative input is a no go.

This is likely emotional exhaustion or burnout, and it may surprise you to know that scrolling through your social media feeds when you feel this way could be doing you more harm than good. 

You see, scrolling through your social feeds, regardless whether you’re interested or not, is forcing your brain to cope with a significant amount of information. The exhaustion you’re feeling could be information overload.

If you feel this a lot, block your social media feeds so you can only see them during scheduled social media time. Consider deleting the social apps off your phone too. Why? Because sitting on your phone and scrolling social media in the evening can lead to overactivity of your brain. This makes it difficult to fall asleep and sets you up for another day of dragging yourself through your to-do list tomorrow.

4. Complete Your Creative Work First to Increase Productivity

This strategy is two-fold. First, by completing your creative work first – such as writing – you’re utilising your brain at its freshest. As a result, you should find it easier to cross those tasks off your to-do list while completing them at a higher quality than you would if you attacked them later in the day.

Second, as most freelancers and small business owners have to create to some extent, completing your creative work first is an entrepreneurs version of ‘eating the frog’. Communication, meetings and strategy can come later. Once you’ve completed your creative work, a big chunk of your essential brain-draining tasks are done for the day.

5. Delete Anything On Your To-Do List That Doesn’t Bring You An ROI

I often talk about prioritising tasks that will bring you a return on your investment of time or money. What I don’t talk about enough is identifying the tasks that don’t bring you an ROI, and scrubbing them off your to-do list.

It’s all too easy to get caught up fiddling about with things that don’t matter. Like the font on your website or the cover image on your Facebook profile.

A general rule for whether tasks can be deleted is how long they’ve been on your to-do list. If they’ve been on the list longer than 2 weeks, you don’t need to waste your time or energy on it. The exception, of course, is essential tasks such as financial recording and taxes – don’t delete these or you’ll regret it.

6. Schedule Self-Care Time

Open your calendar, choose one day of each week to be a NO WORK day and cross it out. It’s essential you make time to rest and recharge, while prioritising the other important things in your life, like family, relationships, exercise and Netflix binges.

While you’re at it, schedule some time in your calendar for mid-week self-care tasks like training and coffee with friends.

The most important decision you can make is to stick to your self-care routine. If you do, once you return to work you’ll find your attention, motivation and productivity have all increased.

More advice

Are you a freelancer who’s fed up with working twice as many hours as you used to, for a quarter of the cash, and a truck-tonne of responsibility to go with it?

Join my email course ‘7-Days to Stress-Free Success’ to discover the exact steps I took to flip my business from an excessively-expensive hobby to a future with food on the table.

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