Chad Halvorson is the CEO of ThisClicks, maker of When I Work, a web-based mobile employee scheduling software.
If you're an entrepreneur or business owner, getting things done is incredibly important. You have to have vision, you have to plan, and you have to work with great people. But if you never move into action, all of the plans, visions, and staff in the world won't save you.
Don't confuse being busy with getting things accomplished. It's possible to work an absurd number of hours without actually making much progress. Unfortunately, being busy is much easier than being productive. So here are 20 tips for making sure you're actually getting the work done.
1. Know where you are and where you want to be.
You need to know both where you are and what you want to accomplish every day. This is not that bulky business plan you never look at. This is about knowing what should happen every single day and which of these tasks will move the needle most for your business.
2. Get enough sleep.
This cannot be overstated. If you're exhausted, you won't get as much done and you'll make more mistakes. Whether you choose to rise early or work late and sleep in, make sure you get enough rest.
3. Get fit.
Getting fit can make a big difference in your productivity and perspective. Making simple, small changes in regards to your physical activity can improve your business and your life, as well as help you get more done and ultimately reach your goals.
4. Take steps toward a deadline.
When you're moving your projects toward completion, you're doing real, important work. If you spend an hour organizing your inbox, what have you accomplished?
5. Use a prioritized checklist.
By having a list of all that needs to be done, with the most important projects first, you'll set yourself up for success. Checking off tasks is satisfying, and you'll ensure the key ones aren't forgotten.
6. Don't overcommit.
This is a great tip from Lifehack. Not only should you not overcommit in a single day, but you should also carefully monitor your overall workload. Don't be afraid to say no sometimes.
7. Close social media.
Close Facebook, Twitter, and anything else that distracts you. If you want to get work done, you'll need to cut off the avenues you use to procrastinate.
8. Forget multitasking.
Multiple studies, including one using MRI images from the University of Michigan, show that effective multitasking is a myth. The brain switches tasks quickly, but too much switching decreases concentration and increases mistakes.
9. Use the Pareto Principle.
Listen to Tim Ferriss and put your focus on the 20 percent of your tasks that give you 80 percent of your results.
10. Focus on service.
When you spend time each day serving others, you'll find yourself feeling so empowered and motivated that tackling your own tasks is a no-brainer.
11. Use time blocks.
Rather than bouncing around from task to task, set blocks of uninterrupted time to work on specific items. Make sure your employees know these are "no-talking times." Focused work will let you get more done quickly.
12. Use a timer.
When working through your tasks, estimate how long they will take and then try to beat the clock. It can make even dull tasks into a fun game, and you'll surprise yourself with how fast you can be.
13. Create routines.
Habits are one of life's strongest forces. The more tasks you can make into habitual routines, the more energy you'll have left for bigger tasks. As the Harvard Business Review notes, we have a limited amount of willpower. Be sure you're circumventing the amount you need to use by implementing good routines.
14. Change your environment.
Doing the same things, in the same place, day after day can cause burnout. Try a change of pace and do your work in a different location.
15. Work out midday.
Exercise has proven benefits when it comes to energy and feeling great. By taking a midday workout break, you can come back to your work refreshed and more productive.
16. Capture fleeting thoughts.
Nothing uses up brainpower like trying not to forget something. By writing it down immediately, you'll free up your mind to focus on other, more productive tasks.
17. Replace "I can't" with "How?"
When it comes to being productive and overcoming burnout, you can't accomplish what you think is impossible. By asking how to accomplish something instead, you'll frame your work as achievable and get more done.
18. If you're struggling, take a break.
Odd as it seems, sometimes the way forward is to stop. Regular breaks will give you a fresh start on your tasks.
19. Handle paper and email once.
By forcing yourself to take action on papers or emails right away, you'll avoid having them pile up into an overwhelming mass. Make it a goal to handle them only once.
20. Eat healthy snacks.
What you eat has a big impact on how you feel. Rather than eating something that will give you a sugar rush and then a crash, focus on healthy foods like nuts or carrots.
Having a focused, productive day isn't always easy. However, by following these tips you should be well on your way to getting all of your truly important tasks done each day. In the end, you'll find yourself truly productive--not just busy.