How to Switch Off and Be More Productive

How to Switch Off and Be More Productive

There’s a fine art to productivity, and ‘how to be more productive’ is a very popular internet search. There are a staggering amount of tips, apps and tools that claim to make you more productive as a person, both in your work and your home life. With so much choice, learning to be more productive can actually become overwhelming in itself, leading to even more procrastination and uncertainty about how to tackle your tasks. Sometimes we need to learn to switch off in order to get stuff done!

Are too many productivity tools slowing you down?

To begin switching off, take a look at all the tools you use on a daily basis. There are some great productivity tools out there, and something on offer for almost every kind of task. For example, there’s ClickUp, Trello and Asana for project management. There are diary management and scheduling tools such as Calendly, and social media management tools such as Loomly and Hootsuite. What about basic Google Docs and good old-fashioned pen and paper? They are also common tools people use every day.

It doesn’t really matter what tools you use, as long as they work for you. Once you have found something useful, stick with it. It’s much better to use one or two tools effectively than waste time trying to manage several tools at once.

The benefit of being offline

After a storm in rural France where I live, I was without internet. You can read about it here. At first, it sent me into a kind of spin, as much of my work is based online. But, being without internet actually allowed me to focus and be more productive as a result.

The problem with the internet is that it is a huge distraction. You could be working away and you notice a new email ping into your inbox, so you stop what you’re doing to read it. Over the course of a day, many small distractions can lead to a big decrease in productivity.

When online, you probably have a lot of tabs open as you jump from one page to another. This encourages multitasking, which is yet another method of working that really slows you down.

If you do need to be online to do a particular task, turn everything else off. This means putting your phone on silent, closing down unnecessary tabs, including email. You will find that you get the job done more quickly, and often with much less stress and pressure as other things aren’t competing for your attention

Take regular breaks

If you are someone who struggles with productivity, taking regular breaks throughout the day can help reset your mind before continuing with a task. It might sound contradictive to take more breaks when you are busy, but when you are feeling stressed over a task, working without a break can lead to burnout and make you feel miserable! You will find you get more done in twenty minutes of positive action followed by a short break, than in an hour of slogging through a task with no break in sight.

The bottom line

Many people get caught up in the productivity trap, where they become so keen trying out new apps or reading about productivity online that it has the opposite effect. Sometimes you simply have to switch off the distractions and get stuff done!

The world will not stop if you don’t check your email for a few hours, or you turn off the notifications on your phone. By prioritising one task and zoning out the rest, you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and would like some help with online business management, feel free to get in touch!

How fast is your Internet connection?

How fast is your Internet connection?

An Internet connection is probably one of the most important things you need in this day and age when you want to run a business. Back in 1996 (or was it 1997?) when I started a new job at the tender age of 17 (or was it 18?), Internet had only just started to become popular.

I remember the first time I had an email address for work and I often used something called ICQ, it was an instant messaging program similar to MSN Messenger. Google didn’t exist at this time, I don’t even remember what I used as a search engine, possibly Excite or AltaVista.

So what’s this blog post all about? Well it’s about Internet connections and how we rely on these each day to successfully run our businesses.

Until very recently I never really thought about the speed of my Internet and how it affects my business. I have recently moved house, from a small town in rural France to an even smaller village in rural France. My connection was a respectable speed of 11Mb, which is good for around here. My Internet speed is now only 1.5Mb, and that’s on a good day. I really have noticed the difference in the speed, even for every day tasks I used to take for granted.

Depending on what services your small business provides, the Internet may not be very important. You may just have a website and email address, and occasionally do some searching online. For a business like mine for example, the Internet is very important, and the speed of it.

Many of my clients require me to work online most days, setting up a blog post, or altering a website, designing a website, researching online and so on. And my clients (or most of them) pay me by the hour. When my Internet speed was 11Mb, I was getting things done very quickly, but now things have slowed down a bit I might not be able to complete that task which took me 30 minutes before, in the same amount of time. 

Until now I didn’t think about the affect my Internet speed could have on the amount of time I am spending on client tasks, and how this was going to impact on them. Luckily I have already come up with useful tips to try and keep extra time spent to a minimum.

Not all of my client tasks need the Internet, so those are just fine. But now I am more aware of those tasks which may be affected, things such as setting up a blog post, downloading images and researching online. When I do these sort of tasks I make sure that all my Internet connection resources are being used on these tasks, so I will turn off the radio I sometimes stream, I close my email programme so that’s not using up bandwidth which could slow things down.

It’s been nearly 4 weeks of my new Internet speed, and although it is enough to continue working, it is taking some time to get used to. So it’s not only time saving tips I am on the look out for, it’s bandwidth saving tips also.

What Internet speed do you have and how do you work effectively with it if you are below the UK average of 14.7Mb*? (it’s 4.8Mb in France**) I look forward to seeing how you all manage with what speed you have.

You can check yours here: http://www.speedtest.net

Here’s mine… slower than 84% of France! 🙁 

*May 2013
**January 2013