Posts Tagged ‘productivity’

Your holiday is over and you’ve got to go back to work. You resist, don’t want to.  If  your work place is your home office, you wonder if anyone would notice if you didn’t do much for a day or so?

Of course, you could try to catch up once you feel a little more inspired. That’s exactly how I often feel after a holiday. You are so relaxed and chilled out and want the feeling to go on forever.

Even when  you have an important deadline coming up and a high workload to go with it, you figure that your work will make you the opposite of relaxed and chilled out. And perhaps you don’t really want to go there.

That happened to me too once. And then, two days later, not only had I tackled a long to-do list, including a whole long list of emails and a great number of calls, I had caught up with my social networking sites and made some important decisions in between.

After resisting on day 1, I ended up at my desk for 12 hours (not non-stop I hasten to add), enjoying my work against all the odds! I was totally focused too, got so much done and each accomplished task felt really good.

Here are a few tips you may wish to try if you feel reluctant about starting your work.

  • Make sure you write a task or to do list, and prioritise the items on it. It’s no good having jobs, projects or tasks in your head, where they can often cause more anxiety than necessary.
  • Use the timer trick to get you started. Plan to do 5 or 10 minutes on a particular task and before long, you’ll notice you don’t mind carrying on.
  • If you don’t want to use a timer, having a visible clock in your office may be OK. The best ones are the ones with an audible tick- they remind you that time doesn’t stand still.
  • After working for a couple of hours, make sure you have a break. Have a hot drink, stretch your legs, open a window, read a paper. 10-15 minutes should be fine.
  • Getting back into work mode after a break can be hard, so I do something that I enjoy – reading and updating one of my social media sites for 10-15 minutes (keeping an eye on the clock). This also makes me feel connected to the outside world. If you don’t do social networking, then why not make a call to a colleague instead?  Always keep an eye on the clock though.
  • Never ever be tempted to multitask thinking you’ll be quicker! Don’t have social media sites open in the background in order to go back to them from time to time. Single tasking is key to higher productivity – cutting out interruptions gives you higher levels of concentration. Task switching can not only be hard on the brain but will lose you time as your brain takes time to adapt to the different tasks.
  • Getting a difficult job out of the way first, will feel liberating and your work will flow much easier afterwards. Again you can use the timer method to get into the task.
  • At the end of the day, update your prioritised list for the following day, as it will help you to switch off!

What else has worked for you that you could share with our readers?

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business & blogging coach. She helps busy passionate solopreneurs build a thriving small venture by being more visible and focused on what matters to them. Sign up for her free ‘Passion to Profit’ ebook at http://www.successnetwork.org.uk

(PS the above post was first published in 2010)


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Helping each other (photo taken at Success Network event)

Many female solopreneurs pride themselves on being able to manage all the different roles within their business, even being able to juggle these with other family commitments.  But there comes a point when being director, bookkeeper, marketer, sales or admin person, and office cleaner becomes unsustainable and could actually threaten the success of your business.

Indeed, it may be counterproductive in the long run to spend your time micromanaging all the tedious tasks that need to be done.

If you are getting caught up in the day-to-day routine, it can be quite hard to work out when it’s time to stop juggling on your own and buy in some help. Here are a few tell-tale signs:

You are working all hours and you can’t switch off.

You are driven by wanting to do well, but somehow you can’t get it all done! When solopreneurs come to me for productivity advice they almost always want to be able to do more in less time. The trouble is, there are times when even the best productivity tips can’t help you stay on top of your task list. When you continue to miss deadlines and keep making excuses, you really need to think about employing some help!

You never have time to plan, look at the big picture and work ‘on’ the business.

This happens to many people and a client of mine summarised it as being “so pre-occupied with client work, that I just lost the overview!” The problem of losing the overview and not having a clear direction is that you could end up meandering, rather than heading to a goal. Not working enough ‘on ‘ the business can actually increase the pressure and can sometimes lead to us making the wrong decisions, which could be costly (financially and otherwise).

The pressure of working too much ‘in’ the business can even lead to stress.

Stress may not always be easy to recognise as for many of us pressure and adrenaline is part of the job. However when you consider that so many of us originally set up our businesses to have a better work-life balance, stress in your solo-business could be the first sign that you ought to get some help. Stress management may only be one way to deal with this; looking to share your workload can be the best long-term investment in your business!

You would like some help, but don’t think you have the budget or don’t know ‘which’ tasks or skills to outsource.

Always remember that if your time is taken up by too many back-office tasks then a) they won’t bring any money into the business and b) they are probably not what you set up the business for.

Considering a virtual assistant can be an excellent move as some VAs only charge increments of time which can actually be very cost-efficient.  The key is to get the kind of help that allows you to work to your real strengths!

I currently outsource all things to do with finance, websites, copywriting and editing — the things that I can’t or don’t want to do, or I’m simply not very good at! The real benefit of outsourcing and working to your strengths is that you will keep — or rediscover — the fun and passion you had when you set up your business.

A fantastic reason — and not to be sniffed at 🙂

About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King helps busy female entrepreneurs to be visible, effective and profitable in business. 

Read Ute’s daily business tips on Facebook (Success Network Recipes) or visit the Success Network website and sign up for a free ebook with lots of tips for solopreneurs!

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French Market by Ute Wieczorek-King

“I haven’t stuck to some of my plans this year, but hey, I’m so busy I just didn’t have enough time anyway…” Haven’t we all said this at some point or heard other women say it? When they say “I just don’t have any time”, some may be feeling a little overwhelmed, others may think that their ‘busy-ness’ shows an admirably high level of energy or productivity. However what most are really saying is: “I have other priorities”.

Sadly, it’s a fact of life that we live in a turbo-charged world where most people lead very busy lives! Finding or making time for change and new goals as well as managing work in a more conscious and ‘present’ way – as opposed to the de-energising effects of crisis management- are some of the biggest challenges we face in today’s fast-paced world. We feel under pressure to ‘chase’ time and keep up with it … as if we could in fact overtake it! Oh if only we could run faster…

Often when we set a new goal, whether it’s learning a new skill or simply being more productive and effective, we try to fit more into an already much too short 24 hour day!  The problem with that is, that when we fail on some things, our motivation will be short lived and before long any changes or improvements may have been shelved.

J.L. Servan-Schreiber once said “To master one’s time is to gain mastery of oneself.”  To help you achieve this, here are four very powerful productivity tips:

  1. My ‘secret’ and most powerful tip is to schedule a complete STOP! Did I say stop? Yes, stop for just 30 minutes every week, and think deeply about your priorities! Let’s face it- the question you apply to yourself, your work, your work relationships or your business is always the same: “What’s important…right now….this week…this month…and this year?” Bearing in mind that for everything ‘new’ you take on, it may be wise to let something ‘old’ take a back seat for a while.
  2. ‘Creating’ time for change can only be achieved by blocking out space in your diary for your real priorities. Of course none of this is new at all! But it is about making choices, being proactive and changing how you do things. Being proactive and more effective is preferable to fitting all your activities into the 30 hour day you haven’t got…
  3. Try to focus on achieving your goals in an energising way. If your actions are just based on discipline and willpower, any possible lack of motivation may stop you from moving forward consistently. Whatever you wish to succeed in, scheduling something positive and energising will help energy flow more naturally. You could work with a colleague or friend, someone who is supportive with a positive outlook, and motivate each other. Give yourself some rewards and celebrate your progress….this is one sure-fire way to increase your motivation.
  4. Identify and list up all the energy drains that sabotage your success. Some people waste valuable time on activities other people could help with. Why struggle with your weak areas when you could be building on your strengths? Other people procrastinate or are held back by personal problems impacting on their work. What changes do you need to make to help you manage your energy drains?  Sometimes even the smallest changes can make a big impact!

What small change are you willing to make right now?

My name is Ute Wieczorek-King and I help busy women to be well connected, visible, effective and profitable in business. You can connect with me via Twitter, the Success Network Community on Linkedin, or Success Network Recipes on Facebook. To sign up to my monthly newsletter, please visit the Success Network website.

If you enjoyed this article or would like to add some of your own tips, why not comment below?

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Lack of concentration and focus, problems with sleep or hormones, stress, domestic distractions and interruptions can all take their toll on women’s productivity when working from home. Sometimes you can push through a productivity lull and it will pass by itself, but at other times pure persistence without any tactical changes in behaviour may actually be counterproductive.

I certainly find that on a bad day it can take me two to three times longer to complete even the most ordinary office tasks. I may flit from task to task not able to finish any as I can’t focus for long enough.

Sharpening your thinking by consuming lots of caffeine doesn’t always work either and the only option left may be to diversify! This is usually a good move as it prevents that false sense of ‘busy-ness’ which can get mistaken for effective productivity.

But what are the warning signs that tell you that it’s time to diversify?

This may vary from person to person- for me it can be hopping from task to task on my computer and noticing that I have more browser windows open than I need. Or it can be reading an email, and having to re-read it, because I’m just not taking in the information. Another sign may be that when checking my inbox I forget to assign actions, such as flagging the email, setting up a reminder, or adding the reply as a task to my to do list.

So the first thing to work out is what your own personal warning signs are, so you can recognise when to break your current routine.

A good tip is to vary the type of your business activities regularly. Some people even have a to-do list of special short and easy to complete office tasks, just for times of low concentration!

If you don’t have such a list, why not move on to the next items on your to-do list, until you find something that you are able to complete, or at least make some inroads. But beware: don’t keep browser windows of your previous projects or social media platforms open! You want to avoid ‘window’ or task hopping at all cost, as dipping in and out of tasks can be a real time waster.

I often find creative tasks helpful, like working on a blog post or article. As creativity tends to use the other side of your brain, this will usually help me lift my brain fog. And in case I’m still feeling unfocused afterwards, I get up to have a break, preferably outdoors. I may spend half an hour in the garden or go for a walk round the block to clear the cobwebs. Also, when feeling stressed, leaving your desk can actually give you a better bird’s-eye view of what’s going on.

Very occasionally, I will abandon my to-do list altogether and take the rest of the day off. To prevent a backlog of tasks, I usually trade the lost time for an evening or some time at the weekend. However, strictly speaking, this isn’t actually ‘lost’ time, since you weren’t productive and effective in the first place!

So, no matter how you feel on a day-to-day basis, how you choose to work is always in your control, and why not choose to work when you are at your best? As you are your own boss, there is no need to ignore the warning signs of low productivity; it is essentially up to you what you do with your time.

Bad hair days’ can teach you self-awareness as well as help you make your own choices and decisions about how you work. And the more proactive you are the more self-aware, accountable and productive you usually become!

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business coach who specialises in helping busy women to be more focused, efficient, visible and profitable in business.

If you like this post, why not leave a comment below or connect with Ute via Twitterthe Success Network Community on Linkedin, or Success Network Recipes on Facebook.

To sign up to her monthly newsletter, please visit the Success Network website.

Copyright  2011, Ute Wieczorek-King

‘Bad Hair Day’ Photo Credit: Style Tips 101

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Do you work from home, juggling work, family and a host of other things?

On days when you don’t have any meetings to go to, do you start work by checking your emails or social networks such as Facebook, Linked-in or Twitter? After following any interesting links and scanning the articles, do you move on to reading things you’ve subscribed to and find that if you’re not getting too sidetracked you are able to squeeze in a few more email replies too?

If so, it’s quite likely that before you know it, it’s lunchtime and you’re wondering where your time has gone! You then play catch up with tasks that have suddenly become urgent and end up cutting your lunch break short, or worse, missing it altogether!

Does all this sound familiar?

We often con ourselves, thinking that being busy equals being productive. I know because I used to do this too! Whilst online tasks can also be about learning, keeping yourself up-to-date and promoting your business, do they really need to take priority in your day?

When I first compared my unproductive days to my good and highly-productive days, I noticed how differently they started in the morning. On good days I would be up earlier, work on a project, new article or event, or brainstorm content for ebooks or workshops. Inevitably, this would be followed by some planning, whether planning the day, the week or a new project.

Now, I’m not a natural morning person but since I frequently wake up with new ideas in my head, mornings enable me to carry out creative or big picture stuff whilst keeping my mind free and undisturbed by the content of my email inbox! Indeed I don’t check my e-mails first thing anymore (not even via my Iphone!) which has made a real difference to the way I work. By the time I do get round to email I know I’ve already done a chunk of work and feel much more productive.

I know everyone starts their day differently of course: I know women who once all the home activities are done, start their work day by writing in their journal, deciding their goal for the day, meditating, going for a run or getting some admin out of the way.

They say you should start as you mean to go on, so whatever you do, getting your day off to a good start will help you to focus better and enable you to get more done at the end of the day.

So if you don’t yet have an effective morning routine could it be time for a change?

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business coach who specialises in helping busy women to be more focused, efficient, visible and profitable in business.

If you like this post, why not leave a comment below or connect with Ute via Twitterthe Success Network Community on LinkedIn, or Success Network Recipes on Facebook.

To sign up to her monthly newsletter, please visit the Success Network website.

Copyright  2009-2011, Ute Wieczorek-King

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I had a serious IT crisis once when not just one thing went wrong! From broadband problems to my laptop crashing and lots of other things in-between, I was feeling challenged! I had to approach my work in completely new ways so that my productivity wouldn’t go totally out of the window.

The one thing that helped me work smarter during this time was grouping (or batching) different tasks, and applying this technique consistently. Grouping or batching tasks makes so much sense as you end up being quicker, having fewer distractions and less temptation to multi-task!

For example, as I had lots of internet down time I was forced to plan my online and offline time separately. Carrying out my online tasks remotely once a day encouraged me to batch them and also to group offline tasks, to be carried out during the rest of the day.

So let’s assume your to-do list says you should do some invoicing, emailing and filing. Let’s think of invoicing as task 1, emailing as task 2, and filing as task 3.

If you were working on three different client projects (A, B & C), would you prefer to do emailing, filing and invoicing for project A first, then the same for project B and C?

If your preference is to work this way, imagine you are cooking a meal. Let’s say you cooked a starter and a main course that both included onions. Would you slice the onions for the starter first, then complete that dish and then slice the onions for the main course?
I always get out all the ingredients that are needed to prepare the whole meal. I then prepare all vegetables and fruit in one go, which is so much faster overall!

All it requires is a little more forethought by imagining the final meal, its courses and their relevant preparation times. You then put them in order – not necessarily as they are eaten, but as they are prepared, with the goal of minimising effort and preparation time.

The same applies to your work projects. When working on 3 different projects (A, B & C), don’t be tempted to do filing and invoicing for project A first, before tackling project B and C!

It is far more efficient to group all emailing tasks (1), all invoicing (2) and all filing tasks (3) as in ‘A1, B1, C1’ followed by ‘A2, B2, C2’ and so on….

When you approach all your work projects in this way, even downtime on the internet can have its advantages!

By Ute Wieczorek-King, copyright 2009-2011

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business coach who specialises in helping busy women to be more focused, efficient, visible and profitable in business.

If you like this post, why not leave a comment below or connect with Ute via Twitterthe Success Network Community on LinkedIn, or Success Network Recipes on Facebook.

To sign up to her monthly newsletter, please visit the Success Network website.

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Is there anything about the way you work that you would really like to improve?

Maybe you have tried to be more productive before but haven’t managed to see things through. Committing to doing something differently can be so much easier if you take the necessary time to think things through, then plan and act accordingly. Very often we try to make too many changes at once, with goals focused on the distant future; if so, it can be too easy to give up!

Image by Success Network

One way of achieving better results is to see what you can change in seven days. Most people can plan a week ahead and the knowledge that this is a limited period may make it easier to stay on track.

Let me give you some ideas about the kind of things you could do in that time. Never attempt to tackle several things in one go – just stick to one type of change or action per day, and try and fit this in every day for seven days in a row.

For example:

  • Can you reorganize your office in a week? Do a little every day to make a difference?
  • How many calls can you make in seven days? Think of all the overdue cold (or ‘warm’) calls you could make in a week. How many could you commit to every day?
  • Would you like to establish a social media presence in a week? Sign up, start updating and do a bit more online every day.
  • How about improving your productivity by starting your day with 5-10 minutes of planning and writing a to-do list?

You get the idea!

Once you’ve decided to take up the 7-day challenge, let someone know what you will be focusing on. This will help you to feel more accountable and it will be harder to give up.

Then make sure you think through how much time you need to set aside every day and when you will make the time. You could consider dropping a lower-priority activity for a while.

Always be sure it is a realistic plan, and then get started.

Your seven days can start on any day of the week, so if you start on a Monday morning, you finish on Sunday evening. Maybe at the weekend, you can substitute the office task for a similar domestic task so you don’t interrupt the flow.

When the first seven days are up, choose whether you want to start another 7-day challenge. If the first seven days worked well continue to do the same thing for a week, and then perhaps consider adding a new small task into the mix. Always check though that your intentions are realistic.

And if the seven day challenge didn’t work for you don’t worry, try again another time. Until you try, you won’t know what it’s like to do something differently and there really is nothing to lose!

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business coach who specialises in helping busy women be more efficient, productive and profitable in business. Author of the e-book “How to Write a Simple 12 Month Plan”, Ute also runs Success Network and the Inner Circle Business Clubs which provide peer-to-peer business mentoring and support.

For more information please visit Success Network http://www.successnetwork.org.uk

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