5 Tips For Increasing Productivity

When I started working from home, it took me a while to fall into a good routine. I had so much flexibility with my schedule, I quickly fell into a bad pattern of working late in my bed and sleeping in until 10am. When my business partner, Ali, was working with me full-time we had established a nice balance.  Since she was an early riser, she would tackle the early morning emails and 8am social media posts and since I was a night-owl, I would work until midnight drafting emails for the next morning and completing tasks that hadn't been accomplished during the day. But when Ali had to pull back with baby #1 on board, I really had to get organized. Here are some tips that I've learned along the way:

1. Become an early riser. This was definitely a huge challenge for me. Even before starting my own business, I always felt like a total zombie before 10am. This was mostly due to my nighttime routine: staying up past midnight every night made it feel impossible to start functioning at 7am. As difficult as it was to set my alarm that early (the first two days were brutal), it helped me feel exhausted by 10pm. These new work hours helped me shift my productivity from the last few hours of every day to the first few hours. My new schedule also helped be establish a better work-life balance {more on that to come!}. 

2. Taking a break is OKAY. This concept took me a while to adopt. I used to feel like I was failing as a business owner if I wasn't working every hour of every weekday and weekend. It's true that with startups you really eat, sleep and breathe your business but I had taken that a bit too far. Some days the stress would build up so much that I'd become completely unproductive. I would spend hours just brainstorming how to tacklemy overwhelming to-do list rather than approaching it one task at a time. Once the weather got warmer, I started taking my dog for longer walks around our neighborhood and couldn't believe how much it helped me clear my head. I also started making more plans with friends. Grabbing a drink or a quick dinner with a friend during the week, and taking that time to not think about work would re-energize me. So, do what you need to do to try to detach from work for a little bit. It's like pushing the re-fresh button.

3. Make a To-Do List. I am a total type-A planner. I know technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but my google calendars just stressed me out. Sometimes calendar invites wouldn't save or my phone would accidentally be on silent when the reminder alarms were supposed to be ringing. GiGi New York sent me a 'Desk Diary' this year and it changed my life. Having a monthly calendar where all my meetings and calls could be written down and turning a page to see each individual day broken down with my to-do lists was a game-changer. It has become part of my morning routine, writing down everything I hope to accomplish that day helps me clear my mind and prioritize. Plus, there's something about physically drawing a line through a completed task that gives me an extra sense of accomplishment. 

4. Create a work schedule. Working more than 10 hour workdays is definitely stressful. It's important to know your business and know when your hard work will pay off the most. A good example, my Mondays used to overwhelm me. For some reason I thought I had to accomplish everything I wanted to do that week on Monday. Instead of being productive, I felt overwhelmed and only a few things would get accomplished. Another example, on Fridays I would go crazy working on emails and responses that I hadn't sent out during the week. But many people were out on Fridays, mentally and physically, so my emails would go un-read until Monday morning, when people were digging out of hundreds of others. Now, I really focus the bulk on my work Tuesday-Thursday. On Mondays, I get organized for the week: create my daily to-do lists for the next few days, draft emails, blog posts and schedule calls. On Fridays, I try to complete the tasks I hadn't addressed during the week, schedule social media posts for the weekend, draft more emails for the following week, etc. Having lighter schedules on Mondays and Fridays also allows me to run any personal errands that may be weighing heavily on my mind.

5. Stay positive. This is definitely a huge challenge as a entrepreneur and one I've had to learn to handle. It's so easy to get down on yourself and question everything you're working on because of a rejection email or a bad day of sales. Especially working from home, you don't have the camaraderie that you have in an office environment, venting to co-workers or laughing at someone's jokes. So when you're having a bad day, it's incredibly difficult to keep emailing and posting and promoting and moving forward. Currently, my cure for this has been #2, taking a break. I go for a walk or call my fiancé if I need to vent to someone and try to re-focus on the positive. Also, I head to my 'Words of Wisdom' board on Pinterest so read some inspiring quotes. The end goal is what really matters, so I try to look at every challenge as simple a right of passage in the entrepreneurial world. If it was easy, everyone would do it.