We all have those days…
We live in a world that screams at you 24/7 through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumbler, Linkedin, and the list could go on. How do we keep on task when there is so much content to consume! This challenge becomes even harder for those of us who have chosen to make content creation and social media a career.
“I need to stay relevant!”
“Scrolling for hours on Facebook is just part of my job!”
“I need to know what kind of content is popular on YouTube, so I can properly serve my clients!”
Despite these EXCELLENT excuses, we all need to get to work and stop being distracted. Here are 5 Tips to help you work in spite of all the distractions!
1. Plan Ahead
Have you ever started a day without a plan for what you wanted to accomplish? Was it much easier to slip into distractions that pulled you out of something more productive? That is always my experience.
If I wake up with a clear picture of what I want to get done by the end of the day, I generally accomplish it or at least come close.
When I “wing it” and go forward with no plan, it only takes about an hour before I find myself scrolling and browsing. And I’m not even ADD! I can’t imagine how hard it is for the many people in my field that are!
Every night before you go to sleep, develop a REALISTIC plan for what you want to accomplish the next day. I emphasize “realistic” because unrealistic expectations can often discourage you and cause you to abandon them. You should challenge yourself, but also recognize what you can get done in the time you have.
Another excellent practice to add on top of your daily plan is to make a weekly plan. At the end of a week, look back on what you have accomplished during that week and then roughly plan out the next. This makes those daily plans much easier to develop.
Once you have a plan for the day, it’s time to determine when to do each of these tasks during the day.
Studies have shown (and I have found from experience) that placing your more challenging or creative tasks toward the beginning of your day is the best practice. That’s when you have the most energy to expend and it’s when your brain is the most rested and ready to take on challenging problems.
If you start your day with the easy, tedious, mind numbing busy work, you are more prone to getting distracted after you finish it. You feel like you need a break before getting into the tough stuff. Then suddenly hours have gone by and you’re still watching YouTube videos or catching up on your latest Netflix binge.
3. Evaluate Your Workspace
Like I said before, I am not ADD, but I still need to be purposeful about eliminating distractions if I want to be productive.
When I am getting into production or work mode, I close every social media tab in my browser. I silence my phone. I will close my email client. Sometimes I will leave my office all together and sit on my porch with my laptop.
I will also organize my station. I put EVERYTHING I know I will need that day right in front of me. My computer station has three screens, so the most important stuff goes on my main middle screen, less important goes on my right, and least important goes on my left.
Not only that, but I organize my physical desktop, too. I remove as much as I can besides the elements I need. Is there a product I am reviewing today? Will I need the journal I use to take content notes? Will I need the journal I use to take client notes?
Coupling this with the “daily planning” practice is almost essential so you know exactly what you need. This allows me to stay on task because I simply don’t open ANYTHING else other than what I put in front of me that morning.
4. Clean Up
This is kind of a deeper version of the last practice. Keep your workstation clean (physically and digitally). After you are finished with a project for the day, get it away from you so you can focus on what’s next.
I know they say “a messy desk is a sign of genius” and that may be true, but no one ever said it was a requirement. Too many people use that quote as an excuse and it ends up biting them.
There are ENDLESS studies to show that keeping a clean and organized work area increases efficiency and motivation. It gives people a clearer head going into their next task, and it just makes you feel more put together and productive.
5. Start Early
I am not talking about any specific time during the day. I know everyone works better at different times. What I am talking about is starting early in YOUR work day.
Don’t wake up, spend an hour watching videos, take 30 minutes to catch up on Facebook, and then a few more to browse through Snapchat.
Wake up. Go over your daily plan while having your morning coffee. Get a shower. Get dressed. AND GET TO WORK!
The more you put off jumping into your work, the more energy and brain power you expend on unproductive tasks. You need to discipline yourself in putting that well rested brain to work as quickly as possible. I know some people complain that they need sufficient time to “wake up” before diving into their work, but often that is an excuse to be lazy. Force yourself to start moving and you will move!
Being Productive is AWESOME
These are just a few of the practices I have found to keep myself productive in spite of the many distractions around me everyday. Hopefully they will help you out. I would also LOVE to know about some of the practices you have found to keep yourself productive! Comment below or hit me up on social media so we can continue this valuable conversation!
Bonus Tip: Don’t Wallow
If you find yourself in the midst of an unproductive day, don’t wallow in it! Don’t give up on that day!
Start walking through the steps above and find SOMETHING to do that’s productive. Better late than never, right?
Even if you only have time to accomplish one small task, that is one more accomplishment that you wouldn’t have achieved if you had given up on the day.