Let’s face the fact that being productive as a small business owner is as important when you work for yourself as it is challenging. After all, there is no one else to keep you on track or pick up the slack if you fall behind. It is up to you to get everything done, and it is not just about getting the work done. It is about getting the work done well. There are stumbling blocks, distractions, inefficiencies that keep you from doing your best work. Here are five common productivity traps you can fall into as an entrepreneur and how to avoid them.
Productive Trap 1 – Getting Distracted Online
You cannot run a business without being online; however, being online can be distracting. You are working one minute, and the next, you realize you have been on YouTube or Facebook for the last hour. While your Wi-Fi connection allows you to communicate with clients through Zoom, promote yourself with emails to customers, and send payments through PayPal, but it also gives you access to a time-sucking, concentration-draining trap that represents one of the biggest threats to your productivity.
How to Solve It:
The easiest way to solve this problem is to turn off your Wi-Fi, unplug your ethernet cable, or use programs like Freedom to block your Internet connection. If you need the Internet to work, try programs like Cold Turkey or Anti-Social to block specific websites or social media platforms that keep tempting you.
Productive Trap 2 – Creating Overly Ambitious To-Do Lists
Our daily to-do lists can be our best friend for getting things done; however, they also can be our worst enemy. After all, what we want to get done, and what we can get done are rarely compatible. That’s why lists can quickly become full of tasks that cannot possibly be accomplished in one day. If your list is long, there is a good chance you will not complete it. The result will be even worse: you will become overworked, demoralized, or convinced to-do lists do not work.
How To Solve It:
The best way to improve your to-do lists is by asking yourself “What must get done today?” After all to-do lists can become overloaded when you put ASAP tasks next to ones that could be finished in two days.
It is best to go through your to-do list and select the tasks with a higher priority. By doing this, you might decide that a project is just not worth your time or will not help you achieve your business goals. Remember putting less on your to-do list does not mean that you are a slacker. It helps you work more efficiently and more productively. What’s more, ending the day with the most important things done on your list will do wonders for your morale.
Productive Trap 3 – Sticking With a Difficult Project Too Long
Let us face it that sometimes when working on a project, we just hit a wall. The temptation can be to stick with it until it is done- even if it means that you are staring at a blank computer screen for hours. Sometimes you must do that. But often, our brains stall on a task for a reason. Sticking with something that is not going anywhere can be a waste of valuable time that you do not have, especially when it can put you further behind on other things that must get done.
How to Solve It:
There are plenty of things that you could be working on. If you have given the project a good try but are completely stuck, tackle another project. Now, of course, this only applies if the task isn’t something you must do ASAP to move your business forward. If this is the case, then you must get it done.
Productive Trap 4 – Following Ineffective Work Routines
Routines can be a great way to help streamline productivity. But they also can be bad by locking you into a process that does not work. As a small business owner, it can be easy to pick up routines that work at the moment – especially at the start when you are “winging it” – but are not ideal for the long run.
Realizing Your Most Creative Period
What if you realize that the afternoon is your most creative period for generating new business ideas? Great, except for the last year, you have gotten used to sending your day by following up or checking-in with clients about ongoing projects. That routine will hold you back from making the most effective use of your time. And the longer an inefficient routine like that lasts, the harder it is to break. You can find yourself working as hard on re-wiring your brain as you would on something you need to do to make your business succeed.
How To Solve It?
Take some time every few months to review how you are working. Look at what your routines are.
- Are you happy with them?
- Review your productive routines and ask yourself, “Are they working for you?”
- Are they the best way to accomplish tasks?
If the answer is “No,” don’t worry. You can change them before they lock in and get more difficult to break. Have you discovered that preparing your company’s promotional tweets in the morning makes you grumpy? Then stop ding it. Determine what time of day your brain gets more sluggish, and that is when you can do something menial and setup your tweets. Have you discovered that your plan to send out all of the week’s invoices on Monday afternoon gets sabotaged because you are really busy then? Instead, try sending an invoice the moment any work is completed instead. It is all about experimenting, finessing, and checking in with yourself, so you are always working at your best.
Productive Trap – 5 Forgetting to Take Breaks
For a small business owner, there always seems to more to do. That is why it can be straightforward to work long hours without a break. How can you spare even five minutes when your daily to-do list is only half done? Now here is the thing: if you do not take breaks, you run the risk of getting less done. Breaks can help you avoid becoming burned out and stressed. If you skip breaks, you will make your workday that much harder.
How To Solve it:
Solving this problem is easy. You take breaks. What you do with them is up to you. Some people advise naps, others suggest going to the gym. See what works best for you. It may require trial and error, but once you know the most effective for you, just do it.
It is easy to plan to take a break, but there will be times when you will feel like you can’t because your so busy. Believe me. You and your brain will never regret taking a moment away from work.
Let me know in the comments below what productivity traps you have found and how you resolved them. For more articles, please click here.