When I first started working from home, I initially struggled to develop a consistent work routine. As time went on, I eventually found my work rhythm. Even then, I often spent more time on certain duties than I thought was necessary, especially with the general maintenance of my business. I was putting in a “full day’s work,” but I wasn’t feeling as productive as I wanted.
I thought I had to learn how to maximize my time. Instead, I had to learn how to feel confident about the work I was doing.
In a recent post, Jeff Charles lists five ways in which entrepreneurs can make the most of their work time. From breaking projects down into smaller tasks to determining what tasks should be done first, we entrepreneurs can learn to organize our thoughts and establish a manageable workflow.
Organizing our thoughts is essential. As Charles explains, when we focus on accomplishing the “MIT” (“most important task”), other things may have to wait. That’s okay. “Sure,” Charles states, “some of the less-important duties might fall by the wayside, but if this happens, you still have the peace of mind knowing that you did what was most important.” And that, Charles notes, is a daily success in and of itself.
I can appreciate this approach. Sometimes all it takes for me to become more productive is acknowledging the fact that I won’t be able to accomplish everything in a given day. With that knowledge, I can focus on the immediate task in front of me without feeling rushed or distracted by whatever else I “could” or “should” be doing. As a result, I feel more content at the end of the day, knowing that I completed the main items I set out to do.
Such “small wins,” as Charles calls them, create a lasting effect. “Focusing on these small wins will give you the encouragement to continue to move forward,” Charles says, “and it will also help you relieve some of the stress that accompanies business ownership.”
Certainly, as entrepreneurs and business professionals, we set long-term goals for where we want our business to be a year or even five years from now. Such goals can often seem out of reach, though, especially when our “every day” is consumed with managing what is immediately before us. Sometimes, those daily tasks may seem futile or even unnecessary.
However, as we see the progress we’re making and, as Charles says, “celebrate the small wins,” we can feel confident about what we are accomplishing and working toward. We can more easily overcome the hurdles and the hamster wheel. We can see that our work is meaningful.
Ultimately, recognizing work as meaningful is the key to productivity. In my case, when I’m confident about where I’m going, I feel more sure about daily tasks, even ones that seem “meaningless.” I recognize that each task is a step forward. And it’s that confidence that allows me to make the most of my work time, day after day.