9 Ways to Improve Productivity and Stay Inspired
If you’re a freelancer or business owner, it’s easy to get bogged down with admin tasks. Here are some tips to stay inspired and get on with the important work.
If you have boring work that needs to get done, why not outsource it? You can find freelancers willing to take on all sorts of jobs that would give you time to get on with the more exciting work. Look at sites such as elance.com and peopleperhour.com to find top quality freelancers who will bid for your work.
If it’s admin tasks you find difficult, think about hiring a virtual PA to deal with things like invoicing, answering emails and sorting out receipts.
Make your life easier by syncing up all your devices. If you have a tablet, smart phone and computer, you can make sure you’ve got access to all your files with something like Dropbox. You can also sync your email and calendar between devices.
This means you’re never caught short if you need to check your diary or have a few minutes free to do some work.
Keep things simple
If you employ people and have an office running a number of computers, you should consider cloud computing. It’s a great way of keeping all your work safe and you get added benefits like automatic updates, added security and it’s great for the environment too.
Cloud computing services also allow you to work from wherever you want as long as you have internet access. This means that if you need a day away from the office, you can still get those few important things done.
It also makes it easy for employees to work from home. Some people tend to be more productive when away from the distractions of the office so this, again, can help to cut down on costs while making your employees work harder.
Get a second screen (or a third)
If you’re a designer or developer, it’s likely you already have two screens. If you find you’re still switching between browser windows, Photoshop, email and Word, you probably need another screen.
The nice thing about that extra screen is that it will stop you getting distracted. For example, if you minimise a project to check your email but the window behind is your Facebook, it’s easy to spend five minutes seeing what people are up to.
If you have another screen, there’s no need to minimise what you’re working on to see if any emails have come in.
Two screens is especially handy for writers because you can have a browser window open on one screen for research with your writing on the other.
Keep up-to-date with industry leading blogs, interesting websites and new novels. While not all of these will be relevant to your business, they will help you to unwind and relax while gathering much-needed inspiration.
Use a service like Bloglovin’ to keep up-to-date with your favourite blogs and take regular trips to bookshops or the library to browse what’s new.
If you can, find local networking groups in your area. A lot of these have structured sessions where you can hear from other members. It’s a great chance to hear about what people are doing and how they’ve achieved it.
Have a cup of coffee
This goes along with taking the time out to read, you need to take adequate breaks. Go out for lunch, enjoy coffee with colleagues, and get up to stretch your legs away from the computer every so often.
Taking these breaks will help you to process information, plan your next move and it’ll do wonders for your eyes and posture too. If you do a lot of work on a computer, you should be taking a five minute break ever hour.
Make sure your employees do this too. The last thing you want is someone who is uncomfortable and distracted because they aren’t taking adequate breaks.
Create a to-do list
If you can visualise the things you need to do in a day, you’ll be able to work out which tasks are taking the most time. From here you’ll be able to evaluate whether or not there’s a more efficient way of doing things. Perhaps you can do similar tasks in one big batch at the start of the week (invoicing, dealing with expenses, sending out quotes, replying to emails etc.). If that’s not possible then consider delegating those tasks to staff or outsourcing to a freelancer.
Streamline your email
Spending time responding to emails is not only tedious but it can be time consuming. Take some time to create email templates that can be sent off in reply to some of the more common emails. This might be referring a question to your customer services department, a form response regarding recruitment or a sales pitch when faced with a request for more information.
Also, take a look at Inbox Pause. It’s an app for Gmail that will let you pause the stream of incoming emails at any time. This leaves you to get on with a project without being bothered. As soon as you unpause, you can look at all the emails that came in while you were working.
Another nice thing about Inbox Pause is that you can set up out-of-office replies to go out during those paused times. This will let customers and clients know to only contact you of something is urgent. Or you can direct emails to another member of your team.
Break down those big jobs
If you work on large projects, they can often seem overwhelming. The way to deal with this and keep inspired is to break down those projects into more manageable phases.
You can then deal with each phase as if it were a smaller job. This stops you and your staff getting overwhelmed by the scope of it. When you’re done with that phase, simply move onto the next. Your client will probably also appreciate this approach as they’ll be able to get updates at the end of each phase rather than waiting until all the work is complete.
If in doubt, ask your employees or colleagues what would make them more productive. Find out where they feel like they are getting struck or distracted and take steps to improve your processes.