How I was able to increase my productivity in self-employment.

Which self-employed person does not know it. You start work early, answer e-mails, work on projects and suddenly it’s evening again. And the long todo list that you have set out to do has only been partially processed or not at all.

In my everyday life I have tried many things to increase my productivity. In retrospect, however, it are the following 9 principles that help me to progress with my tasks day after day and to manage the business:

No Multitasking

Multitasking may sound nice, but I think it is a misconception that it works. Personally, I always concentrate on just one task at a time. This has the advantage that I can give this task my full attention and thus work faster and more qualitatively. In addition, important ideas and thoughts often come to me during this focusing.

Focus on the important things

80% of success is known to be generated by 20% of work. In my daily work I try to concentrate on the 20%. For this I ask myself the following question every evening before work: Which 3 most effective things can I do tomorrow to get closer to my goal? I then concentrate on exactly these 3 tasks first the following day. Only when these tasks have been completed do I turn to the remaining tasks. When I look at my list of completed things in the evening, I always have the feeling that I have made progress.

Switch off distractions

For me personally, distraction is one of the biggest productivity killers. In the past I have observed that pop-ups of incoming emails or app notifications on my smartphone can throw me off track. As soon as something flashes, pops up or vibrates, my attention is gone and there is this subconscious feeling of curiosity to look. Just ignoring these notifications does not work for me. That is why I have decided to switch off all these annoyances. Partly even App deinstallations were necessary. But it helped in the long run.

Checking e-mails

E-mails are a source of great suffering for many people. At peak times I used to receive around 200 emails a day. Perceived 90% of these emails were unimportant and unnecessary. Nevertheless, I overestimated the importance and urgency. Sometimes I checked the e-mails every half hour, sometimes even more often and of course I always answered directly. I guess I don’t have to tell anyone what effect this had on productivity. Nowadays I try to check my e-mails a maximum of 4 times a day. Above all I enjoy the e-mail free time until 11:00. These are the most productive hours of the day. When I check the e-mails, I process the e-mails with the options “delete”, “reply” or “schedule”. Everything that is irrelevant is deleted. If it is a newsletter/advertising emails that do not interest me, I cancel them. All e-mails that take less than 15 minutes to answer will be answered directly. For all e-mails that take longer, I plan a time block in which I answer this e-mail. To make sure that I keep to this time block, I write back to the sender that he will receive a reply from me at time XY.

Not being available

Sometimes there are tasks that are complex and take your time. Every interruption means that you have to get used to the task again and thus lose valuable time. For such tasks I consistently cut off all contact with the outside world. The telephone is switched off, the door is closed, Skype is logged off and any other disruptive factor is removed. Then I focus on the task until it is done. Only after that I can be reached again. I use the same method for meetings.

Say no

Everyone has only 24 hours a day. To get things moving in these hours it is important to say no. No to others, but also no to yourself. With each task/question I always ask myself the two questions: Does this task bring me closer to my current goals? If so, do I have the time to take over this task myself or can I delegate this task?

Eat the frog first

A few years ago I was introduced to the “Eating the frog first” method in a seminar. The idea behind this method is to do an important but unpleasant task (if there is one) first on each day. And yes, it works. Personally, I find that this method makes you fundamentally calmer and above all, more motivated.

Close the day

At the end of each day, I collect all my thoughts again and look at what I have done and what I want to do the next day. Here I write down the three most important tasks of the day (see point 2), the “Eating the frog” task, the deadlines and all other things that have to be realistically done. With this task I make a mental break from the working day and can enjoy my free time. The next morning I have prepared the day and can start directly without detours.

Get Power

Even the self-employed are just people. In order to be productive and therefore successful, it is necessary to recharge energy reserves and also to have a life outside the company. Personally, I have established the rule that I allow myself a screen-free time in the evening after 19:00 (I only make an exception for really important/urgent tasks/projects). I also deliberately take time off during the day when I feel tired. A little walk around the block, reading a book, an hour of swimming or simply lying down for an ΒΌ hour can do wonders for productivity.

These were the 9 most important productivity helpers who help me personally as an entrepreneur every day. However, since every person ultimately functions differently, it is important to experiment and gradually find the appropriate “rules” for yourself. The rules work best when they are established as habits in everyday life.

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Christian Wagner
Christian Wagner
Founder RiskPlayWin | Owner & Founder of the digital marketing agencies morethandigital.com & PEAKFOCUS.agency