I once wrote a post about the importance of avoiding distractions as a freelancer. It began with a little story about burning a pot of coffee and related that to how distractions can yield a similar result in your work.
Since then, I’ve come to expand on those ideas a little more, finding a structured scheduling process that has become very effective.
Step 1 – Evaluate the Needs
What does your business need on a daily basis to move forward? Are you supporting users? How about developing new content? Prospecting new customers?
Put together a list of the things that you do on a day-to-day basis. Mapping things out can be an effective strategy of identifying what you need to build into your schedule to improve productivity.
For me, I set aside two blocks of time per day to go through user support tickets. In between, I have scheduled development time and writing time. During these time blocks, I focus entirely on the scheduled activity without straying.
When evaluating my business needs to improve my productivity, it was important for me to work in time for the key things that I needed to grow my business. That is determined during Step 1 so that you can then begin scheduling your blocks of time.
Step 2 – Schedule Time Blocks
Of the major pieces from Step 1, how much time do you need to set aside on a daily basis to each of these items?
Build a daily (and perhaps weekly) schedule based on the time needed for these. Be realistic, but allow some flexibility.
I find that I need to also allow a buffer, which sometimes means adding a little extra time. Don’t be afraid to allow a little extra time in your block.
I know that I only have a certain amount of time each day. So scheduling is an important step. That prevents me from taking away from things that are important, things like family and hobbies, while allowing enough time to get all of the business work done.
To improve productivity is not only about productivity, but also efficiency. In this way, your day does not run the risk of becoming all work and no play. That leads us to applying the schedule we just created.
Step 3 – Rigidly Apply the Schedule
Once you have a schedule assembled, start sticking to it in rigid fashion. Don’t deviate from the schedule unless absolutely necessary.
I find that it takes some time to get the schedule exactly right, so be rigid in applying it, but flexible enough to recognize where adjustments may be necessary – but not too flexible. The idea here is to create a productive daily schedule so you can improve productivity.
Stick To The Schedule
Commit to sticking to the schedule for at least a month.
They say that it takes 28 days of repetition to develop a new habit. So commit to a month of your new daily schedule. By the end of that time, you should have begun to develop a habit, and it will come easier each day.
By the end of this time you will have learned where you can be more flexible and where you need to be more rigid and you should begin to see a more productive day that is less prone to distraction.
What works for you? Do you currently schedule your day? What other ideas do you have for enhancing your productivity?