As an entrepreneur, I’ve definitely had my ups and downs. I’ve struggled with motivation, procrastination, and especially with being productive. Through my work, I’ve found there’s more to being productive than downloading timers, apps, or blocking social media sites. Being productive is actually a very personal and in-depth process that will vary for every person reading this.
This article could be ten pages long, but I’ve decided to focus on the three most critical factors when it comes to productivity. The aim of these factors is to show you productivity is both conscious and unconscious. Through taking actions on things that have an indirect effect on your business and life, you’ll find you’re able to be more efficient. We’ll take a look at how you eat, why you should plan, and your habits when you get stuck.
Fuel your body properly.
How can you expect yourself to operate at your best if you don’t feed yourself the best? The foods and drinks we consume have substantial effects on our mood, ability to focus, and how much energy we have. You can’t grab an egg McMuffin every day and expect to feel good. You need to eat foods that have the necessary nutrients for your body to operate at its peak performance.
Coffee is a big myth that needs to be addressed when it comes to fueling your body. Entrepreneurs have a special relationship with coffee, often drinking it before putting anything else in their body. Ideally, you should only have coffee after you eat a solid breakfast and get moving a bit. When I tried this, I found the energizing effects of the coffee to be more effective. Because I’m full, my stomach doesn’t feel queasy from the coffee, and because I get moving, my heart and blood are better able to pump the caffeine through my body. This is much better way to use coffee compared to downing it on an empty stomach when you first wake up.
Another important part of fueling your part is variety. Eating healthy is important, but it’s easy to get tired of smoothies or toast every morning. Switch it up! Don’t be afraid to have lunch or dinner items for your breakfast. It may seem inconsequential, but our breakfast sets the tone for the day. I know I feel pretty terrible and unmotivated when I eat eggs and toast for the third or fourth day in a row. Entrepreneurs are busy, and it’s important to eat healthy foods, but it’s also important to enjoy what we’re eating.
Another thing you should consider is including supplements in your diet. Simple supplements such as Vitamin C, D, B12, or iron and zinc (only if recommended by your doctor) can help your body better absorb nutrients and prompt you to have more energy. Discuss with your doctor which supplements you can add to your diet!
Avoid reacting – start planning.
Planning helps you in so many different ways. Instead of reacting to situations, you’ll find yourself responding, and there’s huge difference. Reacting causes stress. A decision based on a reaction is based on impulsive reasons or doing whatever it takes to control an emergency situation.
Responding means your answer is based on your plan, if it helps to advance you, and if it fits within the stage of your plan that you’re in right now. By responding to situations, you’ll make better decisions for your business and avoid wasting time on things that have nothing to do with your plan.
Planning will also make you more efficient because it will help you focus on your strengths. Making long- and short-term plans will make it evident where you are capable and where you need help. This is perfect for finding potential areas of your business that need to be outsourced. This type of planning will improve your productivity by focusing on your strengths and enabling you to find people whose strengths can fill gaps in your business.
If you notice you procrastinate on certain tasks because you dread doing them, this can be a sign of a lack of planning. All top business people are results oriented, which is a quality that comes from years of developing planning skills. You’ll find it infinitely easier to tackle a task you hate if you truly understand why you need to do it and where it fits into your plan. You won’t get where you want to go without some hard, gritty work along the way. A solid plan makes it easy to work at a steady place while producing productive results.
Don’t freak out when you get stuck — it happens.
Feeling useless is a bad feeling for anyone, but it’s particularly disheartening for entrepreneurs. Getting stuck can cause us to doubt our abilities and ourselves, and leave us grasping at straws for a solution. The most important thing I’ve observed about getting stuck is that it all depends on how you handle it. The more you stress yourself with negative thoughts and depressing dialogue, the harder you’ll find it to break out of a crisis.
The next time you get stuck, take a step back and re-frame the situation in your mind. Realize that you’re not stuck, but you’re now faced with a task that will benefit your business and increase your skills when you accomplish it. Find a way to put a positive spin on the situation that has you feeling stuck. This is a good time to think about your long-term goals and what you hope to accomplish through your business. Surely the task that has you stuck will take you one step closer to achieving one of your goals once you complete it. If not, maybe you’re working on the wrong things.
Taking breaks is an excellent way to get out of being stuck and avoid being stuck in the first place. I noticed that once I committed to taking breaks in between tasks, I felt more relaxed and better able to handle my work. This ties in with the last point of reacting versus responding. When I take a break, I’m able to relax and change my perspective and approach to my work. Watch how much better you feel taking breaks in between tasks instead of plowing away for hours at a time. Exercising and mediation are my two favorite activities to do in my short breaks in-between tasks. Breaking up your work into chunks will help you avoid getting stuck in the first place.
All in all, it’s not deleting your social media accounts or waking up at 4 AM that makes you become productive. The good and bad news is that your own productivity is entirely up to you. You can choose to be productive by changing the way you approach things. It won’t be easy, but it is effective. If you’re feeling unproductive, the first step is to stop and reevaluate. Look at what you’re doing and search for areas to improve. Make sure your lifestyle (eating properly, exercising, sleeping) supports you getting all your work done. Make a plan that you can follow that can be your guiding light for your daily tasks. Finally, remember not to freak out about getting stuck. Simply take a step back and reevaluate.
Your approach to productivity has to be 100% personal, especially as an entrepreneur. You need to decide that you will be productive and commit to finding techniques that work for you. I hope you can use this article as a reference point to help you understand how to intelligently increase your productivity, not through gimmicks, but through effort and a refreshed perspective.
Featured photo credit: business by Pakhnyushchyy via 0.s3.envato.com