Michelle Loretta is a business consultant and financial strategist for wedding and event professionals. As founder of Sage Wedding Pros, she blends her past as an accountant for Deloitte, a sales and marketing manager for DDLA, a merchandiser for Coach, and a stationery entrepreneur to strengthen wedding businesses worldwide. She has been asked to speak at a number of industry conferences, including NACE Experience, Biz Bash Live, and The Special Event. Join Michelle at Be Sage Conference this February 3-6, 2020, for deeper thinking on the business of weddings.
Want to become more productive throughout your work day? First, it’s important to develop a productivity mindset. If you want to get more done, it’s important to commit yourself to making the most of your time. From there, incorporating these three hyper-productivity hacks can change your life.
1. Learn Your Productivity Peak Times
Do you know when you’re most productive? Most people have peaks of productivity. Typically, a morning person will be most productive in the early hours of the day, and a night owl will get surges of energy at night. But, what about the rest of the day?
Daniel Pink addresses people’s peak productivity times in his book “When”. He recommends studying the times when you’re most productive in order to capitalize on those times for projects that require the most focus. Study your work habits for a month. When do you feel the most energetic? When do you feel most focused? What can you schedule during downtimes that doesn’t require a lot of mental capacity? At what times do you need to do your most critical work?
2. Block Your Schedule
Becoming strict with your schedule can be a game changer. I’m not talking about working every hour of the day. In fact, overworking and hyper-scheduling can have the opposite effect on your work output. The goal is to be intentional with the hours that you put into your work. Blocking off your schedule requires that you plan out your day. I like to think of my day in 30-minute blocks. Decide what you’re going to be working on throughout the day.
A few things that can be helpful:
Make sure to incorporate time for email and social media. These are the time-sucks of the work day. But, I’ve found that if I block out time for this, I’m much quicker about getting it done in a short timeframe and not letting it eat up my schedule.
Plan for “people time.” Interruptions from others can force you to stop and start over your work multiple times in a day. This can kill your productivity. This is when it can be helpful to block out times in your calendar for client calls, employee management, and so on. By limiting your availability, you’ll be able to focus on key projects.
Allow some gaps in your schedule for unknowns. A block schedule that is too tight will only frustrate you. Make sure to leave some gaps for catch-up time, emergencies, and unknowns. I typically close up my daily blocking at 3pm daily to allow a couple hours at the end of the day for loose-ends, last-minute-urgent requests, and to catch up on anything else I didn’t finish.
3. Use Technology to Help
There are times when you need to tackle a project that requires a lot of focus and you may not be in the right mindset for it. This is where technology can help amp up your productivity. There are two tools that I recommend for getting hyper focused: ambient music (without vocals) and a 30-minute timer. Instrumental, or ambient, music is my personal secret weapon toward productivity. Music without vocals can trick your brain into focusing on difficult tasks. I use brain.fm when I have a big project for which I need to tune out all distractions, or when I’m feeling very scattered. (In fact, I’m listening to it right now as I write this article.) You can read some of their brain research here.
My other secret weapon is putting on a 30-minute timer to get thru a difficult task. (Some people incorporate the similar Pomodoro method.) There are two things at play here. First, when you give yourself a 30-minute time limit to get something done, you’re telling yourself that you don’t need to spend all day on something. This is a psychological trick for getting over the hump of starting a big project. Do it for 30 minutes and you can move onto the next, more fun, thing. Second, the 30-minute timer forces you to work quickly and get ‘er done. Want to get through your email inbox quickly? Get through your accounting? Compile and curate photos? Set a 30-minute timer and start tackling it. You can do this incrementally over time to slowly chew off pieces of a big hairy project.
In summary, once you’ve adopted your productivity mindset, it’s time to put plans into action. You’ll want to make the most of your peak productivity times based on your inborn traits. Then, block out your calendar to make the most of your day, keeping in mind those peak periods. And, when all else fails, use technology to help you.