A few days ago in the WiseWear “Nerd Lab,” one of our most recent employees asked me what tricks I use to stay productive on a daily basis. Working for the “right” startup can be incredibly liberating. Startups are not 9-to-5 gigs, and typically require more energy balance than time management skills. Some love the autonomy, while others may loathe it. Either way, you still have to get the job done. Here’s a quick digest on tricks I use to keep things fresh and fuel me onward and upward throughout the week.
- Get out there and be active. Whether it be a quick walk, jog, run, bike ride or trip to the gym, nothing makes me more productive than a good sweat. Studies show that exercising is proven to increase productivity, enhance your mood and even give you more energy throughout the day. So now you really never have the excuse, “I don’t have enough time.”
- Sharpen the saw. Take a 30-minute nap every day. I try to nap every day. By taking naps, I effectively break my work day into two full days. Here is an excellent article that supports daily naps.
- Manage your energy. Create a schedule for yourself. I have found that I am most productive between 8:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. I try to work on the most important items during this time. I also have found that I am exhausted almost every day between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., so this is when I typically nap. Don’t forget to switch things up every once in a while. Respond to emails for the first 30 minutes of your day; make a checklist of tasks you know you’ll be able to complete; spend an hour learning more about your industry and current/upcoming trends; monitor social media for another half hour, etc. I personally enjoy writing everything down and crossing things out. It gives me peace of mind and a sense of satisfaction to know what I accomplished.
- Set attainable goals and deadlines for yourself. Set them by the day, week or month — as often as you think you need to. Studies have shown that setting goals and making progress towards them directly correlates with improvement in well-being, satisfaction and happiness. Measure your progress and take comfort knowing that you are getting things done! An awesome tool to track your progress is iDoneThis. It’s also helpful to complete a monthly personal review with yourself. Assess your success and make sure you’re on the right track. Review your job description to see if your performance is up to par. Make a list of your proudest accomplishments throughout the month.
- Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! I can’t stress the importance of prioritizing. I know it can be a difficult thing to do. Prioritize based on deadlines and rank your list of tasks/goals based on importance. Is your whole team relying on Task A? Is Task B due next week? Does Task C require lots of attention and focus?
- Identify and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to recognize your sweet and weak spots for your own personal self-awareness. Acknowledging them can help you create a better structure for yourself and pivot towards better habits. If you’re not a morning person, make sure you have a solid couple of hours throughout the day or night to get things done (i.e. try to avoid making plans midday because it’s likely that you won’t be very productive afterwards). If you lack creativity, push yourself to produce a couple of creative ideas every month. Find out what gets your creative juices flowing and execute.
- Find a “focus” space. Home might or might not be the best place to work from. Although I’m not opposed to the idea of working from bed, it might be a good idea to set up a small office space. Find a space where you can tune in without any distractions. I enjoy working from coffee shops, not only because espresso is only a few steps within my reach, but because it’s nice to get some background noise. Seeing other people working on their laptops also gets me in a productive mode.
- Mingle, network and be social! Working remotely means less social face-to-face interaction. This might be terrifying for some of us. But even if it’s not, try to make it a priority to meet with one of your co-workers on a biweekly basis or go to an industry mixer event. It’s important to keep your social skills sharp and interact with other humans. Go to industry networking events, raise questions, prompt discussions, exchange ideas, meet with other thought leaders; these are all things that will fuel your old or newfound inspiration.
- Make yourself and your work accountable. Because you aren’t chained to a cubicle for a straight 8-9 hours and because your boss isn’t breathing down your neck, you still have to be 150 percent accountable for all of your work. When a person is accountable to someone else for doing what they said they would do, they get things done. Make no excuses.