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10 Top Productivity Tips For Outstanding Business Growth
{Without The Dreaded Overwhelm}

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How to get more done, in less time, for free.

Do you ever feel totally overwhelmed by being the boss of your own business? Do you feel like you’re spinning more plates than a professional circus act? What happened to the freedom and spare time that you thought would come with being an entrepreneur?

I feel your pain! I’ve been the boss for over 12 years now and, over that time, I have discovered my favourite ways of wasting time, procrastinating and being so busy that I almost forget to pee.

I want to help, so here are ten of my favourite productivity tips, all of which will help you to get more done, in less time, for free. And they might not be what you think…

 

Clare Josa's podcast - Dare To Dream Bigger - Is available on iTunes

 

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1. Remember Your Big Why

Ok, so what has your driving passion, your reason for running your business, got to do with productivity? Because when you crank up your passion, it’s easier to stay focussed and you will be much more likely to spot the activities that will make the biggest difference, rather than those that just keep you busy.

When you’re feeling listless, lost and stuck, then distractions and procrastinating suddenly look like your new best friends.

If you want outstanding growth and exceptional results, then you need to have complete focus on the actions that will make the vital difference.

If you have lost touch with your Big Why and turned into a ‘to do’ list robot, then ‘outstanding’ and ‘exceptional’ are going to be well outside your reach. You risk getting lost in the detail and missing breakthrough opportunities.

Your Big Why is what connects you with your passion, your intuition and your drive. Lose them and you’re on a one-way ticket to Distractiville.

Your Big Why helps you to spot the key steps you need to take, to move towards your Big Vision Goal, without getting lost in the little stuff.

So revisiting your Big Why is a great way of getting back on track – and the bonus is that it energises you, too.

2. Stop Multi-Tasking

Us ladies are often proud of our multi-tasking abilities. And that’s great when we’re juggling a phone call with screaming kids and cooking dinner.

But if you want productivity so high that you can create outstanding business growth AND feel like a good Mum, then multi-tasking is what my old French teacher would have called one of your a ‘faux amis’ – a false friend.

When we multi-task, we are not ‘here’ in the moment. We are in our heads. We are distractible. We hit those stress hormones hard, our breathing shallows, we forget what we were doing, we make more mistakes.

The list goes on and almost always ends in overwhelm.

For most business tasks, doing one thing at a time, finishing it, and moving on to the next, is a much more effective way of getting stuff done. You can be relaxed, but alert. You’ll do better work. You’ll speed through your ‘to do’ list.

Don’t believe me? How about trying it out for the next hour, to find out for yourself?

3. Touch everything only once

I remember, back in my first graduate engineering job, meeting a manager who gave me the advice, “Touch everything once and once only.” Back in those days, when email still felt kinda novel (showing my age), he was mainly talking about paper. But these days it applies to your inbox and your social media, too.

What did he mean by all of this?

He meant that he set time aside each day to deal with incoming messages, handled them, then filed them wherever they needed to go (including the recycling). He didn’t let them mount up on his desk or his in tray in a ‘do it later’ every-scarier pile.

When we handle things multiple times – like putting off doing quick answers to emails – it takes our energy more than once. It takes up more time and thinking space. It becomes a spinning plate.

{If you need tips on how to handle spinning plates, here are my 3Ds. Look for the purple box, part way down the page.}

We might use the excuse that we want to ‘handle-then-hold’ stuff for later, because we don’t want it to get in the way of our other priorities, and that’s fine, but that brings me on to strategy number four…

4. Stop Checking Your Email

Ok, so I don’t mean completely (though sometimes we all wish that were an option). But stop checking it compulsively. It’s a demented time-munching monster if you check it too often. Each time it distracts you, you’re taken out of flow, and it serves little useful purpose.

A watched inbox never pings.

Get tough with your inbox.

Set aside times to check it AND allow enough time to action whatever is in it (see point 3). Then forget about it until the next time.

Turn off the auto-synch. Perhaps you might need to have an auto-responder to tell people when you check your email and how to contact you for something more urgent? There’s no point in being your own boss, but being a slave to your inbox.

You don’t have to reply instantly. Not even if that’s what people are expecting, unless you signed a contract with it in.

Tim Ferriss (4 Hour Work Week) recommends NOT checking your email first thing in the morning, but doing your ‘to do’ list first. I’m on the fence on this one. There’s a teeny voice inside my head that is scared there could be a message telling me something on my ‘to do’ list is no longer necessary, or needs to change. It has never happened yet, though. Basically, try it both ways and see what happens.

MOST emails will wait a few hours. And those who need to contact you more urgently ought to know your phone number.

And, for the record, this goes for your social media accounts, too. They don’t need checking twice an hour. Mark out time to use social media and switch it off in between. You’ll be amazed by how your productivity soars.

5. Do Nothing Else Until Your M.I.T. Is Done

Back in my corporate days I was sent on SOOOO many time management courses – usually to try to get me to be less impatient. It didn’t work…. But one common theme these courses had was to start your day with something easy that you can then tick off your ‘to do’ list, to give you a sense of achievement.

While this works for some people, it’s not likely to get you outstanding business results.

One of my favourite German words is ‘Kleinkramm’ – it roughly translates as the little stuff that isn’t really important. If you really want to grow your business, is that really what you want to start your day with? Because the Kleinkramm is what is most likely to tick that time management trainer’s box.

Rewarding yourself by doing the small stuff first sets up a limiting belief: that the big stuff (the important stuff) must somehow be difficult and scary, if you have to bribe yourself with Kleinkramm first.

That’s not how I would choose to start my day – except in an emergency!

Instead, I choose one thing each day which is my Most Important Task (M.I.T.). And the days when I get the biggest results for my time are those when I do my MIT first – before anything else.

If you picked one business-building action each working day and did it, before you got distracted by anything else, can you imagine the difference it would make to your results over the coming months and years?

But how do you find the discipline to do that? Well, the answer is in number 6.

6. Set Up Tomorrow Today

This is my personal secret for picking my MIT. Before I finish for the day, I put away whatever is finished with (unless I’m zooming out of the door because I’m late to pick up the youngest from Kindergarten – again, in which case my desk has that sultry, disheveled look that magazine editors would leap at, if it were a supermodel, instead of furniture).

Then I spend a moment figuring out what the single most useful thing would be that I could do the next day, to move me towards my current Big Vision Goal. That becomes tomorrow’s MIT.

I leave the stuff I need for the MIT out on my desk (I can lock my office, so that’s ok) and go home. That way, when I show up the next day, I don’t have to remember what my Most Important Task is – and it means I don’t get distracted by cute cat videos on Facebook, before I dive in with my MIT. Simples.

7. Don’t Forget To Breathe

When we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, our posture suffers. We tend to slouch our shoulders, tense up the jaw and your breathing usually moves to your upper chest, instead of your belly. This is bad news because it lowers the oxygen levels in your blood and floods your system with stress hormones. Oxygen in the blood is your brain’s food. Starve it of oxygen and it makes it harder for you to think clearly and concentrate.

Start by changing your posture, lengthening your spine, lifting your chest slightly, lifting and then dropping your shoulders, tucking under your chin so it’s level with the ground, relaxing your jaw and imagining there’s a golden cord at the crown of your head, helping you to hold this position, relaxed, but upright.

Then breathe through your nose, into your belly (the bit between your rib cage and belly button), which rebalances your nervous systems. It brings the sympathetic nervous system (fight / flight / freeze) and the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation) back into balance. You are relaxed, but alert.

You can think better, too. Not only will your brain be better fed, but you’ll have access to the frontal cortex of your brain (responsible for logical thinking), rather than  just the primal part that does short-term survival, led by the fight / flight / freeze stress response.

Learn how to breathe properly and you’ll be able to make better decisions and even create breakthroughs.

And, if it’s comfortable for you, it’s worth slowing down your breathing slightly. This calms your mind, slows down your thoughts and makes it easier to concentrate. Slowing these thoughts helps you to pick which ones to feed – meaning you can choose whether to feed those thoughts that are filling you with overwhelm, or whether to let them go.

{Want more on this? Is your Monkey Mind telling you the truth about stress?}

Sure, a bit of adrenalin now and then can help your performance, but if shallow breathing and stress are a regular part of your day, then you’re going to struggle to perform at the level your business needs you to, to achieve the outstanding results you’re dreaming of.

8. Fire Off Some Endorphins

So you might not have the time (or inclination) to jog round the block to kick off some feel-good endorphins, but there’s one simple technique you can use to fire off endorphins in under sixty seconds, without leaving your desk or breaking any criminal laws.

Smile.

Ok, I know that sounds crazy. But when you smile – a biggie, not an embarrassed grimace – it triggers the same chemical reactions in your body as it would if you were actually feeling happy. It relaxes the sympathetic nervous system (fight / flight / freeze), because you’re not likely to smile if that sabre-toothed tiger is still chasing you, are you? And it triggers endorphins, which are your body’s natural happy chemicals.

So hold that smile for a minute and you will start to feel happier. And feeling happier changes our thoughts, makes us more effective at what we’re doing and has a positive effect on how you interact with people.

If you feel self-conscious about smiling at your desk – worried that your colleagues might think you’re some crazy-lady with a penchant for white jackets with extra-extra long wrap-around sleeves – then go an hide in the loos for a couple of minutes. Everyone will be grateful that you did.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

9. Take A Break

When you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed, it can be tempting to try to ‘push on through’. You might even reach for your favourite caffeine-hit, to help you.

But what your body – and mind – need most at that point is a break.

Taking ten minutes out to move your body, get that lymph flowing and shake off stuck energy can pay dividends to your concentration levels.

Go and get some fresh air. Take a five minute walk (even if it’s to deliver something to someone else’s desk). Ideally pop outside and do some deep breathing (see 8).

Shake off the stale feeling and wake up your brain cells.

What do you love doing for that five minute take-a-break feeling?

10. Watch Your Mind Talk

You feel so passionately about creating breakthroughs and making a difference in the world that you can’t keep up with everything you want to do. You end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed, like you’re always running out of time.

But watch out for those stories you’re telling yourself.

You see, if you tell yourself that you don’t have enough time, then that’s what you will create. Pure and simple. After all, how can you possibly feel relaxed and inspired if your inner mantra is like Ivor The Engine chanting, “I don’t have enough time”? It will be firing off those pesky stress hormones and making it even harder for you to concentrate and perform.

What’s the answer? Change your story.

“I am grateful for the time I have.”

And feel the stress melt away. This simple reframe has the power to transform your experience of life and give you the space to create the business you dream of.

How might you remind yourself to say this, when you’re feeling at your busiest?

Bonus: Spend Your Time Like Money

Unlike money, you can’t make more time. So be wise how you spend it.

Choose consciously. Your time is like your energy – you need to spend it consciously, as you would your money.

And, in fact, your energy is more important than your time. Something quick might take up more energy than something that takes longer.

For example, your favourite energy-vampire colleague can drain your batteries faster than spending 4 hours creating the next client presentation.

So spend your time like money, and your energy like gold-dust. And yes, you can choose. I promise!

And ask yourself which actions today could give you the biggest Big Vision Goal return on your energy investment? You might be surprised by how this changes your choices.

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Free Masterclass:

Early in 2016 I’m going to be running a free live Masterclass on “How To Get More Done, In Less Time, For Free…. And Ditch The Overwhelm For Good”. If you’d like to make sure you catch it, make sure you’re getting my 5Minute.Biz newsletter.

>>> You can register free here <<< and you’ll be the one of the first to hear when I set the date for this life-changing Masterclass.

I really hope these tips have inspired you – and empowered you to make some changes.

I’d love to hear from you.

Which tips resonated? Are there any you’re resisting? And do you have any favourites of your own? Let me know via the comments.

With love, Namaste,

Clare x

P.S. Found these useful? Please use the social buttons to share this far and wide! Thanks. x Clare

About the Author Clare Josa

Clare Josa sets Passionate World Changers free from Imposter Syndrome and their secret 3am fears, so they can make the difference they are really here to make in the world. She is the author of five life-changing books, including the much-loved Dare to Dream Bigger. Her sixth book and debut novel, You Take Yourself With You, has been described by readers as 'unputdownable'.

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