As women entrepreneurs, we balance our roles as businesswomen, mothers, wives or partners, and human beings.
We can work from an office or from home, but have to take one thing seriously or our business can easily become a hobby: our time.
Even if you love what you do, you have to set barriers for yourself or your whole day can be spent on social media and with other activities that suck your time away.
The tips below can help you achieve a mood and state that make you energetic and highly productive at the same time.
1. Wake up early - or don't
I tried it and it's not me. I'm a night owl. You can be a lark, so do it!
There are two types of people: the lark wakes up early and goes to bed early. They're the most productive in the morning while owls like to get up later and also work later - even late at night.
I often do important tasks after putting the kids to bed, even writing email courses, blog posts and creating design work. (The only problem is that I have to wake up too early for my biological clock because of the kids' school.)
2. Have an energizing breakfast
Many people start their day without breakfast. Don't belong among them!
I often start my day with a big glass of water, which cleans my body and my brain. Then (I'm guilty, I know) I drink a cup of coffee and have something light but energizing like oatmeal with fruit.
This gives me energy but doesn't make me sleepy and keeps my mind clear. Give it a try!
Don't forget to drink during the day. Your brain needs it! Dehydration means less energy and lack of concentration.
3. Plan your day
This is essential. Without planning, you can go multitasking and not really know what you do.
Set top priorities for your day. Decide what's urgent and important to do (consider deadlines if you work for clients or launch dates and other necessary work in your own biz).
Break down big goals and projects to smaller actionable steps so they won't seem so daunting.
You can use different software or apps for planning and project management:
- Evernote: it's mainly for taking notes, but you can create a to-do list with checkboxes
- Omnifocus: it's not free but provides a complex system in return
- Google Tasks (in Calendar): it's free (available as a Chrome extension too, and there are apps built for handling your tasks)
- Trello: if you want to go serious about your personal projects
- Asana: if you work in a team
(Need more ideas? Check out this Zapier post on 40 of the best to-do apps.)
If you are a paper-and-pen person (like me!), utilize a planner. You can prefer a weekly planner or daily planning page - you decide, test what makes you more in control.
If you want to use a daily planner, here's my free planner page for you to download, with a 'top priorities' and a 'to do' section, a schedule, notes and my favorites: a section where you can record blog and/or biz milestones and write down what you're grateful for at the end of the day.
It comes in two sizes: A4 and letter. It's not dated so you can print it as many times as you want. Enjoy and have tons of productive days!
4. Create time blocks and focus on the task
While planning, decide how much time you're going to spend on each task (it's usually more than what you think first).
Then spend 90 minutes on your first most important task (that's 20% of an 8 hour work day.)
Take breaks every 90 minutes or use the Pomodoro method: 25 minutes work, 5 minutes break - I use the Clearfocus app to track time (it gently reminds you to get back to work when the 5 minutes are over).
Stand up during your breaks, go outside to get some fresh air, drink some water or have a little snack.
5. Switch off your phone's notification
It's essential to avoid distractions at least during those first 90 minutes of important work.
I know, it's not realistic to switch off everything for the whole day - we live in a world where social media is part of our life and more importantly our business. We need some time though, when we have a clear focus and concentrate on our work.
6. Take a nap
Some people do it habitually, some people only occasionally (I am the latter).
It restores your energy, prevents burnout and makes your more productive. Those 20 minutes in the afternoon can save your life (at least that's how I feel after going to bed late and getting up early the next day, haha!).
7. Do something uplifting
Whether it's your dance class, some exercise, going for a walk or a jog, listening to your favorite music, or reading a good book, do something that recharges your batteries.
Exercise is especially great - I used to dance in a group (before my kids were born, for more than 16 years), and now I sit a lot, feeling it's not OK for my health.
As creatives, it's important for us to do activities that inspire and bring us back to life.
8. Plan your tomorrow
At the end of your day, evaluate what you have achieved and what still needs to be done.
Filling the gratitude section of your daily planner is a nice way of closing your day. There are days when it's not easy to be grateful, I know. Try to find the little successes on these days too.
9. Have enough sleep
Having enough sleep is crucial not only for a productive day but also for your health.
It's subjective, how many hours you need - you know this best.
If you're sleep-deprived, your immune system and your brain can't work well.
In my experience, if you go to bed after midnight, you can sleep as many hours as you can, you'll still be droopy the next day.
Take care of yourself and occasionally take a break. I've heard too many stories of stressed and exhausted women entrepreneurs who ended up in hospital - don't be one of them!
What are your best practices to become productive? Share them in a comment below!