Are you as productive as you’d like to be?

On job applications, I used to pride myself as an avid multitasker. The ability to juggle many balls in the air whilst keeping my cool was a skill set that left my ego feeling elevated but left my adrenals feeling overworked. I was stressed out, often late, and did not feel present. I noticed that trying to do too much at once might not be the answer.

Now, when I find myself feeling anxious, it’s because I’m in that same place. When I slow down, take a breath, put on some music and focus on one task at a time, I am my best self. I am focused, I am calm, and it gets done so much faster than if I tried to do more than one thing at a time. I have also left jobs that required me to do so, and have carved out work where I can compartmentalize office time, creative time, and marketing time.

It’s such a common complaint: How can I get more done? The true challenge with this is that time is static. You can’t stretch, or bend time. An hour is still an hour, no matter how you look at it. Certain tasks also take a finite amount of time. How will you ever “make time” for all that needs to get done?Some suggestions:

Some suggestions:

  1. Put fewer to-dos on your list. Are there things on your list that you may never get to? Cross them off now, as they’re taking up space in your brain. Mental clutter inhibits mental clarity.
  2. Know your “best times”: What time of day do you thrive? If you are an entrepreneur and have some flexibility in how you create your schedule, give yourself the advantage of doing tasks best suited to the specific time of day. If you’re a morning person, tackle the “hard stuff” first thing in your day. If your creativity blossoms in the wee hours, take that time to write or create.
  3. Try single-tasking. For years, we have recognized multi-tasking as the most productive way to be. Zen Habits blogger Leo Baubata proposes this, as doing a lot of things at one time does not get them done as effectively, or as efficiently. Focus, and limit your distractions when you need to get something done and give it your full attention. There’s even a website for this, called “Now Do This,” to train you in single-tasking.
  4. Move around. Staying at a desk, or indoors all day makes for a dull entrepreneur. Do you what you can to move around, get your circulation moving, and get your heart pumping. Take a walk. Dance in your living room for 5 minutes. Do yoga. You will find that when you come back to your work, you feel energized and refreshed.
  5. Practice the 90-minute solution proposed by Tony Schwartz, President, and CEO of The Energy Project. Set a timer. Work in 90-minute increments, and hit it hard for that entire 90-minutes. Stay on one project, focus, and then take a short break after the 90 minutes.
  6. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. When you work for yourself, no one may be giving you the accolades or the “thank you’s” along the way. It is up to you to celebrate yourself, and your productivity, which will fuel you into your next project. Reward your good behavior with something that is good for you, and cherishes your downtime. A balanced life inspires productivity.