As a small business owner, I struggle with focus. When I can't focus on my work, I feel unproductive and like I have no idea what I'm doing. In this mode, I put off working on bigger projects and settle with smaller tasks, the ones I can complete in an hour.
My projects range from those small one-hour tasks to projects that take six months and many man-hours.
To be more productive, I need to better plan my projects—even if I don't include the client in this process. I must break down large projects into small, hour-sized tasks. This step makes me feel less apprehensive about the project as a whole.
When I break down these big projects into smaller tasks, I don't have to look at the project as a whole the entire time I'm working on it. Each task is a project in itself, and once I complete that task, the feeling of accomplishment fuels the next phase.
The next area I need to work on is difficult and requires some mental determination. Working on harder tasks first, even in the course of a day.
When I’m feeling unproductive, working on harder tasks first helps me overcome a mental block. As soon as the first task is complete, the rest don't seem so bad. And even if I don't finish all the other tasks, at least I know I completed the hardest one.
This process requires some determination because it is easy to procrastinate and put off doing the harder tasks. And those harder tasks become a source of frustration for all involved as they continuously get pushed back.
I’ve realized that to make sure I'm working on these harder tasks first, I need to plan ahead.
Many successful people have written about their daily routines. Their routines are often similar. One common routine is writing out the next day's work plan at the end of the current day.
I already do this to a certain extent, but I need to be more consistent.
The last thing I'm going to do in my workday is write down the next day’s tasks from the hardest to easiest. It might be in a notebook, sticky note, Evernote or Wunderlist. The point is to write it down, so in the morning I don't have to think about what I need to do for the day.
To recap I'm going to do the following to be more productive and efficient:
- Break up bigger projects into small 1 – 3 hour tasks, so they're easier to complete.
- Work on harder tasks first, so I get the toughest things out of the way.
- Plan my daily tasks the night before, so it takes less effort to get working.
These concepts aren't new, but they can often be forgotten, especially when you’re busy.
I invite you to share your ways of keeping productive and on track.