Are you prey to these common Productivity Traps? What are they? Do you ever catch yourself saying: How can I do more with my time? How can I use my time better? How can I clone myself? If I only had more time… As performance pressure increases, schedules fill up, deadlines loom and passive activities abound, the word ‘productivity’ is all the buzz today. Advice abounds. HOWEVER, there are some productivity NO NOs that can really stand in your way. Take a look at this list and see if you’re guilty of any of these bad habits:
No Real Work Hours
Productivity Trap 1 is having no real work hours. More so than any other work at home professional, most mom entrepreneurs are not great at establishing working hours, yet steady work hours are one of the single biggest success factors for those who get it right. Take a step back for a moment and compare yourself to a working mom who works outside the home. Does she get to come and go as she pleases allowing her days to be fluid and not be accountable to time on the job? Without real work hours managing your business will likely be very difficult. You’ll likely use time inefficiently, and encounter a lot more stress. Firm work hours not only for your family but also for your clients. If you are always available, others’ priorities will continue to vie for your time. Setting real work hours protects your time and allows you to get work done. Of course, work space is just as important – it’s essential to be able to isolate yourself so you can focus on business only. (And if you haven’t yet – you really need to read the sign in this picture… Get the picture?)
Using Your Inbox as Your Task List
Do you use your email as a task list? Uh Oh! What did people do before there was email? Most people had a consolidated task list and learn how to manage their priorities according to what was in front of them on a daily basis. This technique still works. (Really well actually.)
[Tweet “Your inbox is NOT your to-do list (or filing cabinet!) Need help?”]
Your inbox is not your to-do list. (Nor is your filing cabinet for that matter.) In order to overcome productivity trap 2, you’ll need to stop using your email as your to do list. Instead, focus on establishing a habit of deciding first if emails are actionable. IF they are, you’ll want to create an easy way to convert actionable emails to your to-do list where they belong.
Then, in order to get things done, you can block time in your calendar which will help you prioritize when you’ll complete them. If emails do not have any actions associated with them, you can delete the overload! Drop back and take a look at how you can work SMARTER, not harder.
Opening Email In The Morning
Uh OH! (How many times do you have to hear this one before it really hits?) Never open email (or social media sites) first thing in the morning! Instead of launching your day with email or social media, preplan your day the night before.
When you establish a habit of planning your day the evening before you leave, you’ll soon learn to overcome productivity trap 3. When you start each day with an organized (and pre-planned) task list and then save email and social media for later in the morning. By doing this, you can get your most important priorities managed and simply avoid the distractions that come with using your email as your inbox. Certainly make time for both of these priorities, but don’t make it the first thing on your agenda.
Do you fall into productivity trap 4? If you have more than one calendar to manage your time, it can invariably lead to confusion, potentially missed appointments and breakdowns when things change.
To overcome this trap, if at all possible you’ll want to create one master calendar and adhere to the One Calendar Rule. If you need to adapt to your calendar system to appeal to your family that’s fine but make sure you are the keeper of the master calendar. If you’re a mom entrepreneur, you’re also the Family Manager wo it’s important for you to have the master keys for your family’s scheduling success.
Missing Deadlines & Scope Slip
Many mom entrepreneurs compromise when it comes to their deadlines and sticking to their project scope. If you allow yourself to miss deadlines, you will consistently deliver late work, or consistently extend your own work hours. You will experience unneeded stress, lost opportunities, and rework. It is important to adequately estimate what you think projects will realistically take given the amount of time you are willing to work. If you are only working an abbreviated day, it will take you more days to finish tasks. Your confirmed deadlines need to be adjusted to meet your needs.
Giving Up Me Time
Whether you enjoy exercising at the gym, a day at the spa, or a daily walk at lunch time, it is essential to productivity that you continue to take time for yourself daily. Not only do you physically need a break, studies show that you are actually more efficient and effective when you build time in for physical movement and mental downtime. there is nothing worse than a resentful entrepreneur. How can you serve clients when the very thought of that makes your blood boil due to the expense and self-sacrifice of not having time for yourself. Don’t let go of the time that you have to set yourself up and stay centered. When you’re centered and well – you can handle anything!
Not Capturing Ideas
How many great ideas come to mind on a daily basis? If you are like most entrepreneurs, you are highly prolific when it comes to new ideas.
Productivity Trap 7 is having no way to capture or systematize ideas. If you have no system – it’s time to create one that works with your organizing style preferences. Figure out what your natural tendency is when it comes to new ideas. Do you grab a pen and write things down on paper? Or do you capture ideas with an electronic device such as a cell phone?
[Tweet “Do you have a ‘Reset Hour’ weekly to sweep your task list and desk? #productivity #tips”]
So if this productivity trap has you caught, you need to create a way to capture information immediately. Choose your favorite go to: either us a notebook, recording device, contact list, favorite app or easy-to-manage to-do list. (Bonus Tip: A great way to ensure you review your notes later is to make time for this every Friday afternoon. I set up a ‘Reset Hour’ as the last hour of my week, where I work to complete all the tasks that are leftover, review my calendar for the coming week and create my preliminary to-do list for the coming week. This is a great time to review all the ideas you have. I literally have a folder titled “Cena’s BIG Ideas” in which I drop slip’s of paper containing ideas and notes that occur to me daily. I go through it at the end of each month.
Saying Yes to Everything
Productivity trap 8 is saying ‘yes’ to everything. It is incredibly important for mom entrepreneurs to learn how to say “No” when it comes to both business and personal requests. David Allen, author of the million-dollar best selling book Getting Things Done says, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” It’s important for you to figure out what you must say “yes” to and say “no” to everything else so that you can maintain your focus. Saying yes to everything will soon put you into the negative spiral of ‘not good enough’… all avoidable by simply learning to say NO to most everything. Start with ‘NO’ always, and then let people, tasks, commitments, requests and past-times earn your enthusiastic ‘Yes’ when they meet your needs or delight your senses. See what happens when you simply start by answering: “I wish I could… but – state your top three priorities” and see how much easier life can be.
Piling & Postponing
Barbara Hemphill, office and personal productivity expert and founder of The Productive Environment Institute has famously named piles as postponed decisions. Knowing her personally, I consider this one of the best ways to understand why piles occur in people’s homes and offices. If you’re caught in productivity trap 9, it’s time to tackle those piles. Tomorrow makes many promises. But, today is the only day that gets them done. If that task needs to get done, then do it today. Need help with paper piling? Check out this post!
Your Sanity Assignment
Claim which productivity traps catch you on a daily basis. What is the most difficult for you to stop doing? I’m really interested to know! Please share your most challenging productivity trap below and join the conversation!