Your Time, Your Energy: Creative Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity & Efficiency
How's it going over there? If you're like most business owners, you're answer is "BUSY!" If you feel like you're always drowning in work, hustling, grinding and caught in a cycle of feast or famine that keeps you spinning & stressed, it's likely that you're wasting your precious energy on unnecessary tasks.
The truth is that if you use your time and energy strategically, you can replace "toxic productivity" with "healthy busy." There are a variety of time-tested strategies to help ensure that your creativity and valuable ideas translate into tangible results, achieving the highest results with minimum effort.
To thrive in the competitive landscape, it's important to maximize and manage your energy and time in the most efficient way possible. In this blog, we'll explore various productivity tips and tools to help pave the way for peace and prosperity in your biz. Ready to watch your impact grow while your to-do list and stress levels shrink? Then read on!
Productivity is knowing when to work, and when to rest. It's about working smarter, not harder.
The Foundations of Productivity
What's behind your productivity (or lack thereof?)
Think of it as a pyramid, with your HEALTH at the bottom and your HARD WORK at the top.
FOCUSED ATTENTION - time spent actually working
SUPPORT SYSTEMS - resources and tool to succeed
YOUR ENVIRONMENT - lighting, temperature, air quality, noise level, cleanliness
YOUR SELF-CARE - daily routines and rhythms, rest, play, work-life balance
Self-care is the Foundation
No matter how much inspiration, desire or vision we have, our work will not get done if we do not have the bandwidth and capacity to do so. Our energy is not infinite. Our productivity depends on our health and wellness.
We may struggle with a lack of energy for a variety of reasons: because we are parents, caretakers, overstimulated, overdistracted or struggling with mental health or physical health issues.
If you're Neurodivergent then your productivity is even more inconsistent than the average entrepreneur (thanks Procrastination, Impulsivity and Distractibility)
Succeeding as an entrepreneur demands consistency, resilience and innovation. And for ND entrepreneurs who possess unique challenges (and gifts) in their non-linear processing and perspectives, this journey can be that much more demanding.
If you are Neurodivergent and it feels like your mental load is extra heavy, that's because it is. Our justice sensitivity coupled with our executive function issues add to an already full plate of expectations and the feeling that the weight of the world is on our shoulders. Plus our tendency to ruminate means we don't get a break thinking about these stressors.
It's easy to get stuck in a cycle where we are
overwhelmed by todo lists which are always growing with our new ideas
procrastinating on tasks we don't enjoy
succumbing to distractions around us
struggling with burnout from overworking
experiencing a lack of motivation or focus
feeling guilty for not meeting expectation
criticizing self or feeling shame for not being "enough"
feeling frantic or dread in front of a mountain of tasks
completing shallow, superficial or "dead-end" tasks
chasing perfectionism and approval of others
While creativity and hyperfocus are powerful assets to ND soloprenuers, it is common for us to hit a wall when it comes to time management, organization, and multitasking. As such, we can benefit greatly from implementing productivity tools tailored specifically to our sensory sensitivities and needs.
Creating visual schedules
Breaking tasks into smaller manageable chunks with built-in breaks
Task management apps can help maintain order and reduce overwhelm.
Reduce sensory distractions - noise-canceling headphones or specific lighting arrangements.
Custom strategies can help ND entrepreneurs leverage our out-of-the-box wiring and manage our sensitivities, leading to a more focused and productive work environment and the ability to navigate the entrepreneurial landscape with confidence.
Self-care practices include balancing work and personal life, embracing relaxation techniques, and seeking support when needed. We must incorporate periods of 'rest and renewal during the working day, and give ourselves permission to work in the unique way that works for us. Whether it is morning mindfulness walk, or catching up with friends the key is to feel renewed and motivated to work every day.
"Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
Tips, Tricks & Tools of the Trade
Struggling to finish tasks is not a sign that you're failing in the skill of productiviy but perhaps that your productivity systems are failing YOU.
Healthy Productivity tips and tools can help us
complete tasks with more focus + less stress
simplify and structure our workloads
create order, or a sense of urgency
build time awareness
reduce burnout and overwhelm
sharpen focus and concentration
increase follow-through and task completion
make the most informed decisions of where to allocate our precious time and energy
create both safety AND freedom, both structure AND room for flexibility
achieve a sense of accomplishment that goes beyond just crossing off items on a list
create a balanced life where work complements, not consumes, your personal time
appreciate pleasure and leisure time just as much as impact and service
achieve guilt-free rejuvenating downtime and rest
achieve a clear sense of purpose and meaning doing work that aligns with your personal values
But remember, productivity tips are not one-size-fits-all; they must be adapted to suit the individual strengths and challenges of each person.
This principle is also known at the 80/20 rule which states that 𝟮𝟬% of 𝗲𝗳𝗳𝗼𝗿𝘁 yields 𝟴𝟬% of the 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘂𝗹𝘁𝘀
As heart-led, passionate leaders, we often invest more effort than necessary. But the Pareto Principle can help you overachieve with 60% less effort! It sounds impossible, but it's not.
1) Write your goals and 10 key tasks or projects to meet that goal 2) Circle two that are most important in driving your results. These are your primary tasks
3) Underline two Secondary tasks that are also valuable and necessary
4) Look at 6 remaining. Ask- Do these have value? if yes, How can you do these better or faster? Automation or outsourcing? If no, delete them from your time and attention
5) Add primary tasks to your calendar every day or week. Fill in secondary tasks as timeallows
6) Priortize all communications (emails, research meetings, etc that relate to your primary tasks.
7) Delegate, decline, delete or postpone the rest
“Think of life not as a marathon, but as a series of sprints, each punctuated by periods of rest and recovery. “
1. Plan your tasks for the day or week.
2. Decide on one task
3. Set a timer for 25 mins
4. Focus and work
5. Stop once the timer rings
6. Take a 5 min break
4. After a series of 4 Pomodoro, take a longer break of 15-30 mins.
Note: Working in focused intervals has been proven to help productivity,however ideally the breaks will be productive too, (i.e no scrolling). Examples of how to use your time here
Quick house chores
Brainstorming or mindmapping
Corresponding with friend
Exercising gently through stretching or lifting weights
"If you have more than 3 priorities, then you don't have any."
Choices are all around us, and each one seems urgent. We struggle to choose because it’s hard to fully close a door, refuse or say no.
Producitivity starts with a firm grasp of your goals, vision and values. Know what matters first, and let this knowledge guide every decision.
If a task doesn’t advance your goals or excite you tremendously, it needs to come off your plate.
Mastery is also about focus and discernment. It’s all about feeling into the energy of whether something is empowering or draining.
To simplify the art of Prioritization, draw a grid with four boxes. Categorize each task within 1 of the 4 sections covering the "4 D's of Time Management"
1. Urgent + Important = DO IT NOW. Manage these tasks with deadlines or consequences.
2. Urgent + Not Important = DELEGATE IT. These tasks must get done, but don't require your skillset.
4. Not Urgent + Important = DECIDE, DEFER IT or DO IT LATER. These tasks have unclear or flexible deadlines but contribute to long-term success so they should be scheduled.
3. Not Urgent + Not Important = DELETE, DISCARD or DOWNGRADE IT. These tasks are a distractions and unnecessary, needing less or none of your time and attention
Make a check mark on your calendar for each day you succeed with a certain task. Keep your streak going as long as possible, with the goal of never missing more than 2 days in a row.
1) Spend 3 hours working on a project
2) Complete 3 smaller tasks or meetings
3) Do 3 regular/maintenance tasks to keep things running smoothly
Eat the Frog
The idea here is to do your hardest task first, so that the rest will get easier.
1. Identify the thing you least want to do
2. Set aside 1 hour first thing to get started
3. Break it into the smallest possible pieces
4. Set your Pomodoro timer
5. Check email/slack/etc only after you have finished
Do a brain dump of all tasks on your mind for that day or week. Then categorize them into the following
A. Extremely Urgent and Necessary ("The sky will fall if I don't do this"
B. Moderately Urgent and Necessary ("I'll sleep better if I do this")
C. Not very Urgent or Necessary ("This can wait")
1) Look at where you are most ANXIOUS in your business- where you are hypervigilant, over working or ovresponding. Practice leaning OUT in these areas-- loosening your grip, shifting towards ease, flow and pleasure.
2) Look at where you are most AVOIDANT in your business- where you are nervous, insecure and subconsciously overlooking. Practice leaning IN in these areas. Remember, you can do hard things. Face your fears and they will disappear!
It's time to stop wearing all the hats. The practice of delegation is a game-changer for your efficiency and productivity. Whether it's content creation, SEO or social, it's ok to outsource what drains you.
1) First, determine your time value. If it's not worth your hourly rate, delegate it.
2) Focus on the 20% of the tasks that bring in 80% of the results.
3) If someone can do it 70% as well as you can, pass it on.
In order to delegate like a boss:
Choose Wisely: What to delegate and to whom.
Explain & Train: Clear instructions pave the way.
Set Expectations: Define authority and outcome.
Monitor Progress: Check-in, but just don't hover.
Provide Feedback: Constructive and celebratory.
Identify all tasks. Assign similar tasks together in a scheduled chunk of time on your calendar. Don't forget to take break between blocks.
Hustle Culture preaches unhealthy productivity, encouraging us to
push through your exhaustion at all costs
sacrificing your well-being to “get ahead”
prioritize work and output above health, family, rest and play
Let's reject toxic productivity and instead embrace authentic, sustainable impact. Self-care and compassion is the antidote to toxic productivity.
GOOD ENOUGH (80%) is better than perfect (100%)
The #1 most important task and essential habit is always ACTION
Ask "If this is the only thing I accomplish today will I be satisfied?"
Always consider "what is my time worth?"
Strive to complete your most important tasks before 11 am
Focus on improving your hourly income not monthly or weekly
Pivot away from or Quit things that arent working or flowing
Wrapping it Up
Procrastination is the thief of time, the master of everyday excuses, the enabler of distraction, the foundation of poor focus.
The vicious cycle of "That can wait til later..." is not serving us. We have to stop waiting for the perfect moment simply because it doesn't exist. We have to stop negotiating with our potential and start performing at our peak. It's time to own your time, rule your schedule, and get the results we actually deserve.
We all want results. But to get them requires direct and decisive ACTION. The strategies and methods shown here are your personal challenge to rise above the mundane and mediocre and to reach for the stars.
How to know when you've mastered the entrepreneurial game? When 80% of your time is spent in productive or creative mode, while 20% of your time in rest or play. This is how we become invincible -- happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.
Healthy, authentic and sustainable productivity can be a pathway to a life of greater meaning, fulfillment and joy. There's no way around it. -It simply feels good to be creative, to have output, and to see the fruits of your labor.
Again, while our productivity does NOT equate to our worth, the work we do plays a vital role in shaping our identities, allowing us to express ourselves and share our gifts with others. It's about doing the *right things*, for the *right reasons*, in the *right way*.
Your potential is waiting to be unleashed. The only thing standing between you and your goals is the story you tell yourself - your excuses and limiting beliefs.
Ready to rewrite the story? I love empowering neurodivergent AND neurotypical Dreamers and Doers to unlock their full potential and redefine the future of entrepreneurship. In doing so, we contribute to a world where diversity and innovation are celebrated and success knows no bounds.
I can't wait to hear from you soon!
Erin Ratliff is a certified feng shui consultant, holistic business coach and organic growth marketer for earth-loving, heart-centered soul-preneurs.
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