pin-ponderings

How to get more done & be more productive when working for yourself - Part 2

Emma Goodson

Welcome to Part 2 of 'How to get more done & be more productive when working for yourself', if you haven't read Part 1 - you can read it here.
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Following on from my tips and trick in the previous post, here are a few more that i think you might find helpful!
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Taking proper breaks.
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Think about it, if you were working a 9 - 5 job, you'd get a break for lunch, and probably a morning and an afternoon break too. This isn't just your boss being nice, it's a legal requirement! But more importantly it's essential to give yourself breaks to refresh your brain and refuel! I usually take a break from 10am - 10.30am and have a cuppa and catch up on my Instagram. I physically take myself away from my workspace, I go and sit downstairs in the comfy armchair and just take 30 minutes to myself to see what my friends have been up to and 'awh' over cute dog pics. I take my lunch break at 12 (as I’m usually starving by then!) and then take the dog for a walk for 45 minutes to get some fresh air. I have another break at 3pm (as I’m usually hungry again and need a snack!) I try to get some leisurely reading in on this break, if the sun's shining, I’ll go sit in the garden and read a book for half an hour. I then have to stop at 5 to cook dinner for myself and my other half. Yes, it's early, I mean I am hungry all the time so it doesn't bother me eating that early, but Jordan works nights so he has to leave the house at 7, so I have to make sure he is fed and watered before he goes! Sometimes I’ll take the evening off, other times I’ll carry on working after dinner. Because I’ve taken proper breaks throughout my day, I still have the energy (mentally and physically) to carry on working throughout the evening if I need to.
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Know when to take time off.
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Stopping to take a few breaks through your day is great but working 7 days a week is not. I remember when I used to do craft fairs, (before I was properly efficient with my time) In the weeks leading up to the event, I would try and cram in as much sewing as possible to make sure I had as many products as possible to sell at said event. I would wake up early, not go to bed until long after midnight, and I would set incredibly unrealistic production goals. This made me miserable because I could never achieve these unrealistic goals (making me feel like a failure) and it would stress me out no end.  This would usually end in tears, drama and the dreaded burn out. Those experiences (it happened more than once!) have taught me to not only plan my time better so I have more time to reach my production goals, but to take some time off for myself. Now I try and give myself a whole weekends worth of time off (like I would have off if I had a normal, full time job!) Now obviously this is difficult when my other half works 5 nights on and 5 nights off, as he regularly works on weekends, so sometimes I take my days off in the week and work weekends. I know the ‘Work / Life’ balance is something that’s difficult to get right, but you must be strict with yourself, as working all day every day will make you less productive, trust me. You’ll lose motivation if you don’t give yourself time to relax, which will obviously decrease your productivity.
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Write everything down.
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My brain is like a nuclear reactor. Ideas firing off and hitting each other pretty much every second of every day! If I stopped to action every idea I think of as I think of it, I literally wouldn't get anything done. So, to remedy this, I just write everything down. Like a brain fart. I try and keep a notebook by my side when I can. When I don't have a notebook to hand, I just write a little note on my phone. At the end of the day, I’ll go over all my notes and put them into categories. For this I use the Eisenhower matrix.
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It identifies which tasks you should focus on and which you should delegate or ignore. Obviously I action the ‘DO’ tasks there and then if they won’t take more than 5 minutes each (like emailing a supplier asking for a sample of fabric) if they are important, urgent and will take longer than 5 minutes, they will get scheduled into tomorrow’s work. ‘DECIDE’ tasks usually get left on the list until the next time I do my weekly schedule. ‘DELEGATE’ tasks are usually mundane household tasks like cut the grass, which I would kindly ask my other half to do. ‘DELETE’ tasks are simply tasks that probably don’t need doing, like checking Facebook.
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Pomodoro technique.
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The Pomodoro technique is a time management system that breaks up your workday into 25-minute chunks, with 5-minute breaks. After so many ‘Pomodoro’s’ you can take a longer break. Pomodoro is a great technique to implement if you want to work efficiently. Our brains don’t usually retain their efficiency for longer periods so it’s always good to work for fixed time intervals. It really helps me when I’m on a task that I’m not overly enthusiastic about doing, like editing photos. Just like I mentioned when talking about working on different tasks, this technique helps me focus on the task at hand, because I know that if I don’t enjoy it, I only have to do it for 25 minutes then I can check my Instagram for 5 minutes, this little reward for staying focused stops me getting distracted, especially by my phone, and ensures I stay consistently productive! I use an app on my phone called ‘Focus To-Do’ which works as a timer and a tracker, so you can monitor how many productive hours you’ve had throughout the day. It also has this cute little feature, for every 25 minutes of productivity you have, it converts this into ‘sunlight’ which you can give to a little ‘Tamagotchi’ style sapling. The more sunlight you give it, the bigger it grows!
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I hope you found these tips & tricks helpful, If you want to be more productive when you work from home, it will require motivation and focus. By making sure you plan efficiently, focusing on one task at a time, reducing unwanted distractions, and having a good work-life balance, it’ll ensure your productivity level is at its peak and you’re getting as much done as possible!

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