The Top 10 Reasons You Won’t Be Productive Today

time is money

Time is money. This is doubly true for small business owners.

There are only so many hours in the day, and most of us would prefer not to spend all 24 of them working. Finding a good balance between work and life starts by working efficiently. We all wake up in the morning with the best intentions, but then it’s 2 pm and we’ve only crossed one thing off the never-ending To-Do list.

What happened? I’ll tell you in one word: distractions.

We work on laptops. Those laptops are connected to the Internet. And that Internet is a bottomless pit of distraction. Not into social media? Don’t worry, there are plenty of distractions to be found in your house, at the coffee shop, and even at the library. Sometimes we’re even duped by distractions masquerading as work!

The best way to fight back against time-wasting distractions is to a) admit that you’re being distracted and then b) find a way to keep yourself working when distractions come a’knocking.

Learn more in the infographic below. Then check out our past posts on making the most of your time:

5 Easy Ways to be More Productive Before Lunch

Relax: Doing Less Can Help You Get More Done

Why Coworking Is The Ideal Environment for Productivity

Infographic: Top 10 Time Killers

Infographic by the team at OfficeTime Time Tracking
Lead Image via Tax Credits

Want To Be More Productive? Ignore Your Email

checking email, workday, productivity

How did you start off your workday today? What’s the first task you set for yourself? If you’re like millions of professionals around the world, you probably poured yourself a cup of coffee, and then cracked open your inbox. Unbeknownst to many, this is the WORST way to start your day.

If you’ve been struggling with productivity, constantly disappointed to find how little you have done by 3 in the afternoon (or in the morning, depending on when you work), the answer isn’t to get up earlier or use time tracking software. The solution is to IGNORE YOUR EMAIL.

I know, I know, this probably makes you feel nervous. Email is my main line of communication with clients, vendors, and subcontractors. It’s how I track progress on projects or pitch new work. It’s the central command hub of this entire operation. Without email, everything comes crashing down, RIGHT? Wrong.

Like me, you’re probably thinking: “But I can’t ignore my email, WHAT IF THERE’S SOMETHING URGENT IN THERE? Here’s a mind-blowing truth about your email:

There’s nothing in there that can’t wait one hour. Maybe two.

Let’s be honest, 90% of what comes into your inbox is likely junk. Advertisements, newsletters you don’t read, and Groupons for things you’ll never buy. Even legitimate stuff like client complaints, proposal requests, content revisions can wait 60 minutes.

By checking your email first thing in the morning, you allow the outside world to dictate the course and tone of your entire day. By giving your email precedence over your actual to-do list, you say “I have no direction, inbox, please tell me what I need to be doing!” When you start your day with email, you’re heading down a rabbit hole with no end in sight.

Email will always be there. In fact, you’ve probably noticed that it continues to stream into your inbox all day long. It’s never done, and if you start your day by checking it, you’ll never be done either.

Want an instant, money-back guaranteed way to increase your productivity before lunch? Spend the first hour of your day tackling the first thing on your to-do list. To qualify, this thing must be a billable task, or directly related to the accomplishment of a billable task.

Try it. It’s gonna be hard. It will feel weird. But just DO IT. Instead of looking up after the first hour (or two) of your work day and thinking, “Damn, I really need to get to work” you’ll be able to say, “Damn, I got some work done, and I’ve only been at it for an hour!” You might even be so excited and encouraged by your progress, that you spend another hour working on Task 1. Or maybe you’ll move on to Task 2!

Or maybe you’ll have email withdrawals, but that’s OK. After the first hour of focused, calming work, you’re in a much better state of mind to tackle those client questions and management problems in an efficient manner. And even if you end up down the rabbit hole, you’ll still have one completed task under your belt for the day.

Want to learn more about this fascinating practice of ignoring your email? Check out: 

Never Check Your Email In The Morning: a book by Julie Morgenstern

7 Reasons You Should Never Check Your Email In The Morning

Geek To Live: Control Your Workday

Image via BuzzFarmers/Flickr

5 Tips To Get Non-Writers Writing

Ever heard the saying, content is King?

Most of us work, find clients, and communicate with our peers via the internet. The key to finding success on the internet is making it easy to be found at all. And what do search engines use to find, rank, and list us? Content. Words. Copy.

For those who write for a living, the idea of putting together fresh content full of relevant keywords and tag lines is a no-brainer. But for the rest of us, a single blog post can bring on a day of agony.

If you’ve got a stagnant blog, a boring home page, or just want to build your credibility by guest posting on respected industry blogs, here are some tips to shake off that writer’s block.

1. Find your writing time and stick with it. Some people feel their creative juices flowing at 2 am, some have to write first thing in the morning or they’ll get distracted.

2. Keep track of your ideas. There’s nothing worse than sitting down at your computer only to stare at the blinking cursor, wishing words would appear. Writing is hard, and forcing it when you’re not inspired is torture. Find a way to record ideas for post topics as they occur to you. Then when it’s time to write, you’ve got a little pool of inspiration to choose from.

3. Minimize on screen and real life distractions. How many tabs do you have open at this very second? How many message alerts, social media mentions, or Skype conversations are vying for your attention as you try to write? It may sound unorthodox, but try closing every non-essential program while you write. Fewer distractions means you’ll start writing faster, and sustain your ideas until the writing is done.

4. Create an outline. Maybe your 7th grade English teacher DID know what she was talking about. Get all your ideas out of your head and on to a piece of paper. Then, start organizing them from most to least important, or some other order that makes sense for your audience. Making an outline can show you where the holes are in your thought process, and help to eliminate unnecessary information.

5. Turn off your internal editor. Just write the words. Forget spelling, grammar, and whether you’re using the passive or active voice. Those tweaks happen after all the pressing points are on the page. Just blurt it out. Hurl it at the wall. Slowly, the crap will fall away, and you’ll see the real nuggets of information that will make your writing useful.

6. Experiment with different formats: interview, Q&A, lists. Blog posts and especially copy, doesn’t have to be exhaustive. It doesn’t have to be 400-500 words. It doesn’t have to be anything other than interesting and relevant. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be you that does all the talking. If three sentences and a bullet list get your point across efficiently, your readers will thank you for saving them the trouble.

I know we’ve got lots of talented writers at Cohere. Care to share one of your secrets for jump starting a writing project?

Image Credit: Flickr – Alyssa Miller

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