I almost never work on the weekends. And I rarely work in the evening. So, then, how do I manage to remain a thriving solopreneur? How do I get my work done on time and under budget? Simple (mostly) through good productivity practices.
I have a number of processes that help me keep a stable and productive workflow. Yet I’m always looking for better and more efficient ways to run my business.
Ben kicked it off by tagging Alister Cameron, Adam Kayce, Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Andrew Wee, David Armano, Tony Clark, Mike Sansone and Chris Cree. As of tonight, Adam and Andrew have responded with some solid tips. I’d love to hear from everyone else Ben’s tagged.
So are you ready to hear one of the ways I stay highly productive?
Focus. No, not you – if you’re reading you’re focused enough. My productivity tip is focus. For every 60 minutes of the workday, I stay micro focused for 50 minutes. Then I get out of my chair, away from my computer and out of my office for 8 minutes (give or take). The remaining two minutes I settle back down in my chair, look over my next todos and look at what I can accomplish in the next 50 minutes. Then I’m off to the races again.
During my 50 minutes of focus, I do nothing except what is on my todo list. If I’m writing code, I code for 50 minutes. If I’m returning phone calls, I do that for 50 minutes. If I’m writing a blog post, I do that for only 50 minutes. I keep a timer running in the background with an alarm so I don’t have to watch the clock.
This sounds similar to what Ben suggested about working in bursts. I take a bit different approach then being single tasked for a length of time. For me it’s all about how much I can get done in 50 minutes. Like Ben, I stay focused to one task at a time. But if I complete that task in under 50 minutes, I move on to the next task that needs to be done. Sometimes I can get dozens of tasks done in 50 minutes. Sometimes, like with coding and styling a website, I may work an entire day at 50 minute intervals. They key, for me, is in working uninterrupted for 50 minutes.
Also, during the 50 minutes I don’t answer the phone, I shut down my email client and turn off my feed reader. I minimize all programs that don’t directly relate to my task at hand. Not answering the phone and shutting down my mail client are TWO MAJOR KEYS to making this work.
So when do I answer email or return phone calls? Well, that happens in its own 50 minute block. As does scheduling coaching and consulting sessions with clients. I just don’t do these things during a 50 minute block where they’re not included.
One other trick to this…you have to walk away for the 8 minutes. Regardless of how little or much you’ve gotten done, stop at 50 minutes. Walk away. And then come back. That short break every hour has helped me stay even more focused during my 50 minute blocks. And, I find that I’m more refreshed at the end of the day.
So that’s it. This process has probably increased my productivity two fold, minimum. Probably more.
- Begin with a clear task list for the day based on all the projects you have going on (I’ll let someone else tackle creating task lists)
- Work through your task list in 50 minute intervals. Remain highly focused on the one task you’re working on.
- If you complete your task in less time, move on to the next one. If not, stop at 50 minutes anyhow and pick up where you left off in the next interval.
- At the end of 50 minutes – stop what you’re working on. Get away from your work, leave your computer/office for 8 minutes. Get some water, do something completely unrelated to work. Breathe…
- After 8 minutes (or so) return to your office and spend the remaining two minutes preparing for the next 50 minute interval.
So now it’s time for me to tag some folks I’d love to hear from. I’m tagging Dave Taylor, Liz Strauss, David Airey, Ted Demopolous, Andy Beard, Mike Sansone (again), Edward Mills, Drew McLellan, Valeria Maltoni, Sarah Lewis, Doug Karr, Easton Ellsworth, Aaron Potts, and David Armano.
I’d love to hear feedback on anyone else who’s using or trying this method of working. It’s worked great for me.
I’d also love to hear your ideas for improving on it or adding to it with other productivity tips. So please, share your thoughts, ideas and tips.