Every small business owner will (frequently) feel overwhelmed. But when that happens, it’s important to ask yourself: is it because you have so many things to do, or is it because you’re trying to do too many things at once; are you in the right frame of mind or are you listless from having worked too many hours already this week.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your day:
1. Get more sleep
The more sleep you get the more productive you are. Even when we’ve had a little less sleep than we need we can find it harder to process information, make decisions and perform complex tasks. We find it harder to cope with things, which pushes up our stress levels and we fall ill more easily. So remember: it isn’t the quantity of hours we work but the quality of the work we do which matters.
2. Plan your day
Save more complex tasks for when you have the most energy and leave monotonous or undemanding (a.k.a. boring) tasks for when you know your energy will dip. Each person’s body has its own natural rhythm, which will dictate whether you’re a lark or an owl – at your best in the morning or in the afternoon. You just need to find your own rhythm and organise your day around it.
3. Make to-do lists
You need to order your day by setting a list of things you want to achieve and prioritise those tasks. Make enough time during your day for the important jobs; don’t let minor tasks take up longer than they should, otherwise you’ll spend the rest of your day trying to catch up.
4. Take breaks
Some jobs, like writing or strategising, take more mental effort than others. You can only concentrate for so long before your concentration starts to wander. So take regular breaks: get up, walk around, have a chat with someone, to recharge your grey cells before sitting down and starting again.
5. Ignore your email inbox
You’re just sitting down to do an important task when… ping! Your computer tells you a new email has arrived. You automatically click on it and start to read. Before you know it, you’ve become sidetracked from what you had begun doing. Screen your inbox and click only on the ones that you know you will have to deal with immediately. Once you’ve completed the task at hand, then you can turn your attention to reading your messages.
6. Focus on one thing at a time
It’s difficult to multi-task – your brain simply can’t handle having to think about more than one job at the same time. So concentrate on completing one task then tick it off your to-do list. You will do it better, and it will make you feel better than tackling a number of jobs together and failing to complete any of them.
7. Done can be better than perfect
It’s easy to get engrossed with the little details, to the extent that you never finish the task. Many of us can become paralysed by perfection, holding onto a project until every detail is ironed out. Sometimes it’s better to finish a job and then move on.