What if we could sit back, relax, and earn without putting in much time?
It would be nice but you’d be living in a dream world.
Business requires a lot of work to get started and double that effort to finally turn a profit.
What happens when you’re feeling drained and unmotivated? What happens when your time isn’t maximized?
You start looking for blog posts like these about productivity tips and hacks.
You skim them and go back to whatever routine you had — effectively wasting your time.
In this article, I want to share a variety of productivity tips, hacks, and methods I (and many others) use to get more things done. This stuff applies to anyone whether you’re a student, entrepreneur, parent, or a professional — just swap the goals. Ready?
Know Thyself – Listen & Learn
To become productive – you must first understand your habits, workflow, and distractions.
Every individual works in a different manner.
You won’t be able to replicate the drive and passion as your closest competitor because the motivations behind both of you are very different. What you could do is beat them at their own game by being more productive.
Productivity, at its core, comes down to a few basic principles:
- Identifying your best habits while working
- Planning and creating strategies for your work
- Eliminating distractions
- Setting goals and breaking them down into tasks
- Challenging yourself while having fun
Before you ever begin a new project or take a leap into whatever you’re doing – ask yourself whether you truly have time to dedicate what could be years of your life to this goal.
This much time dedicated to anything can be scary — remember that what you put in is what you get back out.
You could do it half of the time but then you’d be making half of your potential.
For reasons explained, it’s important to identify what works for you.
Listen to your inner dialog about what you have to say about entrepreneurship or just really any form of dedication. Learn what makes your skills unique and what drives you to this. Collect yourself and compile the resources that will aid you in building your business. Understand what makes you work productive and not just play around on the computer all day.
Core Productivity Tips #1: Identifying your Best Habits & Qualities
What I’ve found to be the key to staying productive in business is developing a workflow.
This workflow is completely unique to your own habits:
- The amount of time you can invest
- How well you work under pressure
- Your drive to learn new things
- The ability to stay focused
Here are a few questions you could ask yourself:
- What is the best time of the day for me to work?
- Which action can I do, today, that will have the greatest reward?
- In the long-run, what do I want to do with my business?
Identifying and answering these questions will begin to reveal what makes you tick — the stuff that gets you motivated to do work.
Core Productivity Tips #2: Plans, Strategies, and Motivation
A single action is worth 1,000 ideas.
What does that mean to you?
For me, it represents that doing just one thing that gets you closer to your goals is infinitely more important than scheming another campaign or researching some new tool.
Your actions speak louder than words.
Don’t immediately throw away your whiteboard and delete your spreadsheet because planning and strategy really do make up a very important aspect of staying productive in your business.
Although yours may differ – this is what I recommend for the early stages of your work:
Make a Plan
It’s a folly to be thousands of hours into your work to find out that you’re gone the wrong direction. A plan, from the get-go, helps you stay on task throughout the duration of your work. Your plan does not need to be set in concrete because very few plans work exactly how you imagine but the most important element of this stage is to have a general idea on where you want to be in the next 6 months, 1 year or even 5 years.
Fill out a Strategy
Take the time to comb over every little detail about how you plan to accomplish your goals. Despite your best efforts – your strategy, like your plan, won’t go according to … plan … but it will allow you to see the bigger picture. Your strategy should involve as much of your work as you can so you can see how things inter-relate which can be later used to optimize your time.
Have a reason behind why you want to get started.
Sure, cash is always nice but what do you want to do with your success once you’ve achieved it?
- Maybe it’s a well-deserved vacation
- Maybe quitting your day job
- Maybe it’s just spending more time with loved ones
Plant a seed of motivation in your head about why you’re going to be working to the bone on your affiliate business. Align your plans and strategies so you don’t neglect the things you love and make time for yourself. The combination of the three will give you a much-needed boost in inspiration from the very start.
There are the three elements I would highly recommend covering before you get started.
Up to this point, you’ve identified what gets you moving and what you can do (habits and qualities) along with how you can bridge the gap between your inherent skills and quest for business.
Next, we’re going to be looking at the biggest killer in your productivity: distractions.
Core Productivity Tips #3: Eliminating Distractions
Distractions bombard us, every day, to the point that we feel overwhelmed and cave in.
These distractions come from many different areas: people, entertainment, unexpected phone calls, home visitors, natural disasters, sounds, and even from within.
The truth is that eliminating every distraction is impossible due to our wired, interconnected world but there are steps you can take to improve invested time with these productivity tips at work:
- Turn off the Noise. When you’re in your moment of clarity (most productive work time) – be sure to turn off every little distraction so your only focus is your task at hand. Turn off your phone, television, email alerts – log off Facebook, close your browser, turn off the radio – do whatever it takes so your mind can become completely focused on just one task at a time.
- Surround yourself with Clarity. Believe it or not, the little things are what keep distracting you from your work. Take the time to clear off your work area so your peripheral vision isn’t blurred by little gadgets, clocks, gizmos, gadgets, and clutter. Open the windows and pull in natural sunlight. Create an environment that is optimized for your comfort and mental clarity.
- Start Early and Refreshed. Your mother always told you that “early to bed, early to rise” jingle because it works. While people are sleeping in – you should be powering away at the most valuable task in your business. Take a few moments to wake up, get something to eat so your mind can get running, and then dive right into your work before doing anything else such as checking emails or lurking on Facebook.
- Reject Fear. Fear, surprisingly, is a distraction, did you know that? Indeed, fear is what’s causing a distraction when you start work and never seem to finish – you don’t know what to expect and you’re also worried that you’re wasting your time and resources. Just forget about it. Push fear away and keep grinding on your work. The only thing you should fear is doing nothing; everything else is a lesson waiting to be learned.
- Create an Unbreakable Routine. Certain people, like you and me, need a daily routine to keep things running – otherwise, we fall apart. Start working on a daily routine that incorporates all of the items previously mentioned. In time, your routine becomes your habits; if you’re staying productive than these are formed into great habits.
Distractions are always unexpected but there are many that we can eliminate on our own behalf. The important thing is to remember that we’re not really “missing out” when we shut down our distractions; emails can wait, Facebook statuses can be done later, but what matters most, when working, is to get things done that truly matter.
Core Productivity Tips #4: Goals, Managing Tasks, and Challenging Yourself
When I first introduced the productivity – I made sure to mention that you should have an overall goal and drive to why you’re working on your business. This goal, in the big picture, is what keeps you motivated and inspired.
It also works as a baseline for setting goals, breaking down activities into manageable tasks, and setting the bar high enough that you’re giving yourself a fun challenge.
Here is what I recommend for accomplishing your goals:
Compile and Sort Everything
As with your plan, compile and sort every detail about your business, its strategies, and goals you wish to accomplish into some spreadsheet, notebook, or whiteboard. Then, don’t touch it!
You’ll feel compelled to go back and make updates to your work but this only adds “project creep” (a never-ending cycle of adding more and more tasks that aren’t essential to your completion).
Set everything in stone but be okay with breaking some rules. Try your best to get everything out and onto paper so you can be done with the foundation of your work and ready to move onto the technical tasks.
Break Goals into Tasks and Milestones
Having a large goal doesn’t exactly tell you how you plan to accomplish it; this is the job of tasks and milestones.
Your goal should be broken down into manageable chunks that can be divided throughout your day (daily tasks), month (monthly tasks), and long-term work. The milestones act as a checkpoint (mentally) so you can gauge how well you’re performing. It’s also so you can reward yourself for the work you’ve accomplished.
Ten small tasks becoming one large goal is more do-able (mentally) than trying to get everything done in one go.
Optimize and Batch Your Time
While working, take notes about the actions which are inter-related and can be batched together.
For example, you may find setting up ten websites one by one to be daunting. You could break these down into batches of repetitive tasks such as buying all the domain names at once, then install a theme, then creating content, and so on.
Batching tasks allows you to optimize your time so you’re not bouncing between mindsets and various goals you may have; you knock down large chunks one-by-one.
Make It Challenging
We humans learn best when we’re having fun and when it’s a challenge — we’re all competitive by nature.
Tap into this mental state by always setting your goals and tasks just barely out of reach so you’re actively progressing in your knowledge than working off out-dated material and strategies.
Try new things, implement your own campaigns, and test the waters. It’s your business – have fun with it!
Your goals will be different than any other individual in business because, deep down, your goals aren’t just to make money. It’s the bigger picture items like more free time or the ability to travel to your favorite destination.
Your productivity will become a result of your ability to accurately knock down your tasks, one at a time, so the bigger goals become reachable milestones. In time, you’ll find you’re ready to take on bigger and better challenges that have significant returns on investment for your business.
A Productive Routine Anyone Can Do (Even You)
Lastly, I’d like to leave you with a real-world example of what I deem to be a very productive workflow.
This is based on some of my own experiences which you will surely have in your own business.
I’m going to assume you have multiple elements already going like a website, marketing, and social media.
Here’s how a productive day may pan out:
- Wake up, eat, and work on “money content” without distractions while skipping time-wasters like emails
- Publish and share the content on channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to touch base with your network
- Report on Analytics for the previous day and make changes to your existing pages based on current and potential campaigns
- Explore previous sales and commissions while considering new campaigns to test new products or optimize existing content/pages.
- Send out a new, promotional email about your latest piece of content or a new segment of your email marketing campaign (newsletter, course, etc).
- Collect feedback and ideas from your community as ideas for future content pieces and projects
These few sets of actions are more than enough to have dramatic results. This process is completing a single major task for the day which often carries the greatest rewards.
It becomes the “money” work vs. “fluff” work:
- Writing a review that could earn you commissions vs. blog commenting
- Shooting a video that helps your branding vs. responding to unsolicited emails
- Networking with A-list bloggers and influencers vs. reading the news
You can see that your day changes, for the best, when you learn to let go.
Begin to implement the strategies and methods within this article, and discovering how you stay productive and inspired. It’s all up to you but let this be the new baseline for getting things done.
Think these productivity tips will see you through and help get more done? Give ’em a try.