Work and play are often presented as two mutually exclusive things. But, contrary to what many believe, the two don’t have to exist at opposite ends of the spectrum. In fact, work often inhabits a comfortable middle ground, depending on the task at hand.
Maybe you hate filing taxes, or doing stock takes. Sure, these are examples of just some of the tedious yet necessary tasks that go hand in hand with running a business. However, nothing worth having ever comes easy, and nobody loves every single aspect of their work — this is often why productivity hacks exist in the first place.
What often helps is remembering the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing. Not just the obvious practicalities like doing your stock take = only buying the supplies/stock you need, staying organised, preventing overspending and guesswork. Of course, thinking this way can be of use to some, but we’re talking about reminding yourself…
Why you founded your business
What your goals for yourself and this business are
How you can make those goals a reality
More often than not, realising those all-important goals involves a healthy mixture of both fun and tedious tasks. And, unless you’re one of the few fortunate souls blessed with being able to enjoy all aspects of your job, some of these productivity hacks and tips might just come in handy.
Try the Pomodoro Technique
We should probably preface all of these tips by saying that they won’t necessarily work for everyone. Now that’s out of the way, we’re here to introduce you to the Pomodoro Technique.
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity strategy and method of working which involves working on a project or task for a solid 25 minutes, taking a 5-minute break, and then continuing on in 25-minute blocks. Each 25-minute block is called a ‘Pomodoro’.
Once you’ve done 4 of these blocks along with the allotted 5-minute breaks, it’s recommended you take a longer break of 15-30 minutes, after which, depending on your task or what works best for you, you can continue with your next block of 4 Pomodoros.
This technique is especially useful for tasks that require a little more effort or concentration, and projects you may have been putting off for a while. Breaking a task down into manageable chunks can make it seem less daunting, and thus boost your motivation to follow it through until the end. The breaks are a great reminder to get up, stretch your legs, grab a drink etc, and generally take a breather before diving back in.
While the breaks are optional, they are recommended. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like being distracted whilst in full flow, feel free to adapt the method to your needs by taking shorter breaks, or cutting one or two of them altogether. It’s all about making it work for you. However, this method tends to appeal to those with a shorter attention span by adding a gentle structure to task completion. In fact, the Pomodoro method is often recommended for those with ADHD for just this reason.
Some people find planning their Pomodoros in advance and accounting for meetings especially helps, as they save time deciding which task to jump to next by having it listed out and pre-decided. Of course, be realistic. Your first few tries will help you gauge what’s possible for you in one Pomodoro. You may be surprised by how much you’re able to get done in one block, and even by how quickly the time goes!
Optimise your work environment
Tidy workspace, tidy mind. We know there’s such a thing as organised chaos, but it’s well worth doing a regular workspace clear-up for your sanity. If you’re already on top of this, feel free to skip this part. For those of us guilty of holding on to long-irrelevant post-its and papers — we see you, we understand.
Invest in desk organisers and stacked drawers to store any clutter and stationery that may be taking over your space. Do a monthly file clear-out, both on your desktop and your physical workspace to save the horror of what awaits after several months to a year of neglect. Trust us, we’ve been there and it isn’t pretty.
Working in a tidy, organised environment can be an instant productivity boost. It’s like the work equivalent of sleeping on freshly laundered bed sheets, super satisfying and well worth the effort.
Get some fresh air
It may sound counterintuitive, but several studies have shown that going for a walk for as little as 30 minutes on your lunch break can improve enthusiasm, relaxation, and nervousness related to work. It’s also been proven that ‘sit less, move more’ initiatives in offices actually improve productivity.
Ensuring you get out and about to clear your mind and get some fresh air is so important for letting your mind relax and wander — in fact, this is often when we come up with our best ideas and solutions.
Gamify your tasks
The world often feels like it’s built for Type 1 brains, with success stories often touting messages like ‘consistency is key’, and building positive habits. While those things are nice, and definitely work for a few of us, some of the time, consistency isn’t always possible. Life sometimes gets in the way, so it’s important to do what works for you, your schedule, and your capacity.
Optimise for passion, not consistency. Remember that the boring tasks contribute to the fun parts of running your business, and it must all go hand in hand for you to find success. Rationalise with those stubborn parts of your brain that eye roll at the boring tasks, and gamify your work such that you begin the day by getting those boring tasks out of the way in the morning when your energy levels are likely to be higher. Then, you can end the day with more creative, stimulating, and fulfilling tasks that make work fun for you as a reward.
Set SMART Goals
What are SMART goals, you might be asking? SMART goals offer a way of ensuring your business goals are relevant, realistic and detailed. SMART stands for:
Filter as many of your goals through this framework as possible, and see how many pass the test. It’s a great way of narrowing the scope of more demanding goals, and ensuring that you know exactly what’s required to get things actioned as swiftly as possible.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Feeling swamped by the sheer volume of your tasks, let alone the boring ones? If your business is growing at a rate which is beginning to feel unmanageable and you find yourself spinning a few too many plates, consider hiring help. This will look different for everyone depending on your business financials. Whether you onboard a full-time team member, hire a part-time personal assistant, intern, freelancer, or even a generous family member or partner — you can certainly find something to work within your budget.
The important thing to remember is that you aren’t any less successful for needing help. It’s natural for business owners and entrepreneurs to need to wear lots of hats, and it’s not something everyone can do. It’s also normal to get to a point in your business journey where it’s no longer possible to manage everything on your own, and you shouldn’t expect to. See this process as an investment in your business’ growth.
Where to find freelancers?
Some great places to start when searching for freelancers to give you a hand on everything from copywriting and content creation, to accounting and customer support:
Use the tools at your fingertips
Whether it’s communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet & Chat — find which one works best for you and your team and use it. Communication, as they say, is key.
Ditto to organisational and creative tools. There are so many out there to choose from, but some of our recommendations are as follows:
Trello - Ideal for planning project pipelines and tracking progress. Super user-friendly, it’s easy to see everything you’ve achieved, alongside what’s left to be done. Break larger goals down into more manageable tasks, and assign contributors so everyone is in the loop.
Canva - The design tool everyone knows and loves. Canva makes for an ideal content creation tool, for those with little to no design experience, and even for seasoned pros in a pinch. Pull together simple yet fun designs to share on social media in no time.
Google Workspace - Tools to live by. Free and easy to use, and ideal for collaborative work.
Hubspot - Keep everything in one place. Whether it’s your social media scheduling tool, your website and blog, email marketing, or your sales information — it can all sit under the umbrella of Hubspot for your convenience.
Sticky Notes - Whether paper or virtual, keep these to hand for jotting down quick thoughts and reminders to come back to later.
Small Business Resources
There are lots of great resources out there to support and guide small businesses, our blog being one of them. While we won’t be able to cover everything that’s out there here, we have a few to suggest that may be of interest to UK-based small business owners:
Virgin StartUp: Offering everything from start-up loans to kick-start your business idea, to events and webinars covering all the essentials. Virgin StartUp is a must for any current and potential entrepreneurs.
Prince’s Trust: Prince’s Trust is a charitable organisation that’s been around for over 40 years, and offers support for 18-30-year-olds in the UK who want to start their own business. They offer business funding, business plan templates, as well as a variety of workshops to help entrepreneurs upskill.
The Small Business Handbook: As featured in Forbes and The Business Insider, this Instagram account is full of tips and tricks to help your business stand out. Whether you’re struggling with sales or the Instagram algorithm is stifling your reach, there’s plenty of great advice to be found here.
Startup Therapy Podcast: A favourite of CREOATE’s very own founder, Ashley Horn, this one goes out to all the podcast peeps. A great one to have on in the background as you work, during your commute, or on your lunch break — this podcast covers some of the many problems founders face when building a business in an honest and refreshing way.
Productivity for your business
Boosting productivity looks different for everyone, so don’t feel bad if some of these tips aren’t for you. Consider adjusting some of the advice to suit your business needs, and leave behind what doesn’t work.
If you want to read more business content, be sure to explore the rest of our blog, and follow us on social media for regular updates. Not registered with CREOATE yet? Sign up now and start selling wholesale with us today.