Whether you are a freelancer, solo entrepreneur, or a creative business owner with a team, the skills and tools to plan a productive day and manage your time are essential to getting impactful work done. Here are a few tips that you can incorporate into your workday that can help you get more done, effectively. Plus, get your free eBook and printable download, the Goal Getter Action Planner. Use this guide to help you set, achieve, and track your long term goals while planning your short-term action steps each week. Scroll to the end of this article to get your free copy.
Set Actionable Goals
The first tip is to set goals for your creative business that have clear action steps and short-term milestones. For example, let’s say you’ve set a goal to launch a new product in 90 days. Clear action steps would list out everything involved in producing the product, marketing, and selling. Key milestones might include: a finished product, launching a social media marketing campaign, sending an email announcement to customers, the first sale, reaching a sales goal. Setting dates against each milestone can create a timeline toward accomplishing your overall goal. You can then organize your month and workweek around achieving gains toward each milestone. Your goals then become a part of how you manage your time.
Organize your workweek
One game-changing yet often overlooked tip to organizing your week for more productivity is to schedule time for tasks and action items. Just as you would add a 1-hour meeting to your weekly planner, also estimate the time you need to complete an item from your to-do list and schedule that time into your calendar. By setting this time aside, you are more likely to get it done and avoid procrastination or overbooking your schedule. Here’s a time management tool you can use today: download the Goal Getter Action Planner below for a free weekly planner template.
Productivity technique: Batching
Have you heard of the “batching” technique to organizing your schedule? Here’s how it works. Let’s say you run a photography studio and a typical workweek would include: meeting clients on-site for a shoot, sending proposals to intake new clients, admin tasks like invoicing and answering emails, managing your online marketing and website, editing photos for client delivery. These are all very different actions and some (like on-site shoots) would put you in different locations. The “batching” technique is based on maximizing your productivity by putting in focused work on each task and avoiding switching between too many tasks on one day - which could leave you feeling overwhelmed and potentially compromise how well you perform. A simple way to batch your workweek, using this business as an example, would be to set two days aside for the on-site client meetings, one day for editing photos, one day for admin and marketing tasks, etc. Here’s a great “batching” how-to from the Muse, that describes this technique as “you can stay focused and zoned in on the tasks at hand, decrease your distractions, and conquer those to-dos strategically”
Productivity technique: Pomodoro
Similar to the batching method, the pomodoro method promises to increase productivity by keeping to a focused, scheduled routine. In fact many people swear by using these two techniques together. If you haven’t heard of pomodoro before here’s the short of how it works (note: you’ll need a timer or timing app). First, you will write out your to-do list. Next, you batch 20-minute increments of your time toward completing each to-do. Then, you get to work - timing your work into 5 total 20-minute intervals with a 5-minute break in between. Take an extended 20-minute break. Rinse and repeat. For a more in-depth how-to there is a great article here from author Michael Hyatt on how to use batching to be more productive. The point is, track your tasks and take action on them with a focused attention.
Unplug and Self-care
While you’re putting in focused work and managing your time efficiently, another key technique to being at your most productive is to leave some time to yourself. Whether it is social time, me time, an occasional day off, or a daily hour for a run - unplugging from the daily routine can be essential to recharging so you do have enough energy, enthusiasm, and motivation for focused work. Especially if you are an ambitious solo freelancer or business owner, avoid burnout and overwhelm by scheduling down time away from the creative hustle.
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Check out these bloggers for more tips on how to intentionally plan your schedule for a most productive day and get motivated again if you find yourself in a creative rut:
15 awesome productivity tips to help you slay the day, from Jessica Estrada
10 ways to get out of a rut and get motivated again, from Bianca Bass