You hear the questions often.
As entrepreneurs, we're constantly on the hunt for ways to maximize time, to get more done and to fuel our growth.
Tools and hacks may provide incremental improvement here and there, but in most instances, they don't address the root cause of the major issue that's zapping your productivity: your environment.
The right working conditions are essential to helping you accomplish more in less time. Consistently.
The first step is understanding where and how you work best. For instance, I work best in silence. Anytime someone is in my work space while I'm trying to write or do other business tasks, I'm frazzled. I feel compelled to talk or pay attention to what they're doing.
Because of this, I opt to not work in a co-working space and very rarely go to coffee shops. I try very hard to make people aware of my "office hours" so they don't stop by my home office when I'm trying to work.
Distractions kill your productivity. Studies show it takes a whopping 23 minutes to get back on task after you've been interrupted.
Add up the number of times you get distracted during the day and it becomes easy to see how much of your time easily gets flushed down the drain for no good reason.
Here are three quick tips to help you create an environment that supports your productivity goals, even if you're not able to change your office's location in the short-term:
1. Block your calendar
In their best-seller The One Thing, authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan note that making dedicated time on your calendar to accomplish your important work is the key to being productive:
"Most people think there's never enough time to be successful, but there is when you block it. Time blocking is a very results-oriented way of viewing and using time. It's a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done."
"Time blocking harnesses your energy and centers it on your most important work. It's productivity's greatest power tool."
While you can't always get away from certain shallow tasks like checking and returning emails, you can make sure you have time to get to the most important work of your day. Make a can't miss appointment with yourself to do it.
Don't take the gamble that the world will magically recognize that you've got work to do, and will leave you alone to do it.
2. Shut-down social media, Whatsapp and other phone notifications
Often, the biggest distractions to us getting things done is the world that's begging for your attention through various social channels, apps, and other electronic devices.
Make it harder for you to get tempted by what's going on in the outside world.
Turn off your cell phone, or at the very least remove sound notifications from certain apps on your phone. If you have to, put your phone in a drawer or turn it over so you don't see it light up when something new pops up on your screen.
Your devices are designed to make you more productive. But if you let them, they will do more harm than good.
3. Close the door
This is especially important if you work in an environment where other people have the ability to walk up and interrupt you.
Do something that signals you are "unavailable" and should not be disturbed unless it is an absolute emergency.
If you don't have a door or work in a more open space, put in headphones. Post a "do not disturb" sign if necessary. When you create boundaries, it makes it easier for other people to respect them.
You can be more productive. You have the power to make a few small changes that will help you get more important work done. But you've got to create an environment that supports your efforts to be great.