Before reading this post, we recommend having a look through part 1 here - enjoy :)
Invest in a planner
A planner is a lifesaver.
When you’ve written out your when to-do list, your planner is where you’ll carve out the time for it, allowing you to visually the structure of your day.
I recommend A5 size planners that have a horizontal landscape and allow you to view your whole week at glance. Find a planner that also includes hours in the day so that you can better organise tasks, meetings and important information.
Give yourself deadlines to meet for tasks or long term work. When you’ve written in your deadline, work backwards from that date to present day. This will enable you do accurately plot ‘mini’ deadlines you need to complete to ensure your final work is not rushed and that you remain productive each day.
Personally, I prefer a physical paper diary, however there are plenty of digital diaries that work well. Google calendar is an excellent option and syncs between your laptop and phone for those more technologically inclined.
Creating the right workspace
A tidy home is a tidy mind.
Jane Veldhoven, an organisation guru, breaks down the perfect office space into five requirements: lighting, temperature, sound, colour and ergonomics. It might seem a little pedantic, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll stop at nothing to achieve results.
Consider the location of where you work. Is your desk drowned in artificial light? Try to work with as much natural light as possible (when possible) and have a lamp or two in the room to break up harsh overhead light.
The temperature of your work environment has a staggering effect on work productivity and is something that’s often overlooked. Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, found that when the temperature sat at around 20 degrees, 44% more errors were made by employees and they were 50% less productive when compared to productivity at 25 degrees. The perfect temperature sits between 22 and 25 degrees for optimum productivity.
Listening to background music can boost productivity, according to the Journal of Consumer Research. Instrumental only music has proven to be best, with productivity benefiting from 70 decibels of background noise. Personally, I find modern instrumental music to works best for me, however electronica has a repetitive nature that may work better for others. Whatever your preference, I would suggest having specific playlists you only listen when working. This will allow you to make a mind-music connection that will put you back into your work groove every time you listen to the playlist.
Colour can also have an effect on your mood and your mental state, and if neither of these are in check, it’s likely your productivity could suffer. Yellow helps creative thinking, reds and earthy tones energise and green is associated with nature and a sense of clarity, according to researcher Nancy Kwallek. Avoid overly white rooms as this can lead to a clinical and sterile feeling. Additionally, try breaking up your office space with a few plants, which may increase your productivity by up to 15% according to a study from the University of Exeter, UK.
Your office set up and furniture affects you physically and therefore your ability to work well. Are you in a cluttered environment or have you not taken the time to set up your furniture in a well-organised way? If you only have a small desk to work from, invest in some space saving storage and ensure you keep your desk tidy at all times – and don’t forget the importance of investing in a comfortable office chair!
Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need. As an entrepreneur, it’s likely you work alone – which has its perks, but can also become a little repetitive.
Try working out of a local café a few mornings each week. It’s a great way to surround yourself with more energy, which can increase your productivity levels. Just make sure to pack some headphones! Not all cafes are work friendly, so you’ll need to scope out the place before hand or take to Google to find that perfect spot. Even just an hour or two working in a new location in the morning can have an immense impact on your workday – especially if you find the entrepreneurial life a little lonely and isolating.
Alternatively, give a co-working space a go. Co-working provides office space for those who don’t have it themselves or prefer to work outside of the house. It’s a perfect place for the self-employed and freelance entrepreneur. You can work independently or collaboratively in shared office spaces with amenities to suit all needs and budgets. Not only do co-working spaces provide a fantastic environment, but they also give you the opportunity to meet likeminded people who can help you along your entrepreneurial journey.
Dress to impress
Certain behaviors, objects and routines can influence us psychologically.
Creating a distinction between work and relaxed home attire is crucial if you want to set mental boundaries between work and personal time.
Working in your pyjamas from home, or clothing you associate with other lazy activities, could be reducing your productivity significantly. What you wear can affect how you feel, and whilst it’s not necessary to throw on a suit or heels, wearing something you’d comfortably go out in will help to you switch on you work mindset. Sarah Davidson, founder of online female entrepreneur school Hello Fearless, notes the importance of treating your home like a work environment- which also includes your physical appearance.
You may feel that meal prepping is time consuming and a bit of a hassle, yet it’s something that’s had a profound impact on my ability to stay on task each day. By spending a few hours a day once a week, I’m able to eliminate an activity each working day that I find chews through work day.
Spend a few hours one day a week (I choose Sunday) meal prepping to eliminate an countless others hours cooking throughout the week that can chew through your work day. Rather than using your time on a working day thinking ahead of what to make yourself for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and cooking during valuable work hours, have it prepared the night before. You can even benefit from just having cut up ingredients in the fridge ready to throw together in a pinch!
Like I mentioned earlier, the first 60 minutes of your day are the most important, so if spending that time cooking breakfast isn’t what you’d prefer to do, have it done the night before so you can utilize your time more effectively.
As always, have plenty of healthy snacks on hand that don’t require any preparation to keep you fueled throughout the day.
Alice is currently studying writing at University and is intrigued by all things entrepreneurial. Each month she will be providing you all a personalised blog dedicated to the struggles we all face as we figure out who we are and our place in the world. Alice is a beautiful writer who is in the same shoes as you right now and wants to share her journey as she figures out where her passions lie and the journey to finding her dream life.