Staying Productive In Challenging Times
Lockdown is slowly being lifted but many of us are still working from home, uncertain about the future yet trying to remain productive - especially if we're self-employed.
This month's blog post is by Janet Oganah, barrister-turned-entrepreneur and founder of Janet's List, a unique brand that connects consumers with businesses run by Black women and women of colour (WoC). She is also the co-host of the award-nominated podcast, Making Money Moves.
Focus On One Thing
"The most important thing for me has been to focus on one big thing and one small thing at a time. I find it tempting to multi-task; however, the external situation is so intense that it's much harder to task-switch or to keep multiple balls in the air. The key here is prioritisation. Each day, work out what will make the biggest shift in your work or business. Hone in on that and double-down to get it done."
Janet also highlights a behaviour that's enabled her to keep her focus: social-distancing her phone while she is working to avoid getting distracted by the latest news and trends. As she says: "There's a fine line between staying informed and feeding your fears."
Willpower Is A Finite Resource
“Willpower is likely to be in short supply at the moment with all the external distractions and draining demands. Identify pockets of time when you know you have the most willpower and save your most challenging or complex tasks for those moments.
For me, it's always after I've rested or I'm chilled - usually midweek late mornings and evenings, and mornings at the weekend. In 'real life' I am often out but in lockdown I can take advantage of these times."
"This is a great tip that I picked up while watching the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely's, Masterclass video.
At a time when there is so much 'noise' and our space is limited (we can't go outside and we're all on top of each other indoors), it's much more difficult to create space to think clearly without interruptions.
Light bulb moments often happen when you're doing a mindless task. For Sara, it's when she's driving, so she created a 'fake commute' by taking a short drive in the mornings to make space for new ideas. For me, I get my best and clearest ideas in the shower.
Whatever it is, identify that mindless task that you do that helps you to generate ideas and do more of it."
"If you're really struggling for ideas or you feel like you're in a rut, it's always worth going back to the beginning. Dig out your first business plan, your early surveys or your old journals.
One of the tools that's helped me has been a handwritten workbook that I completed for my brand designer, Aligned Design, that I kept from our very first piece of work. I looked back and was amazed at how far I'd come - what worked, what didn't work, and some ambitions that I'd had that I had not revisited.
It's worth going back: you might uncover some gems."
(This particular blog post of Janet's has some helpful tips and tools for creating your business strategy.)
"I respond well when I'm accountable to someone else.
Writing is one of the tasks I find most challenging. A fellow business owner is in the same boat, so we've set up a weekly WhatsApp accountability check-in. We set out two or three things we will do and check in with each other every Friday, without judgement. We push each other to do more and cut each other some slack when we haven't made progress."Take Tangible And Realistic Actions That Can Work In The Current Context
What habits or behaviours are helping you to stay focused and productive at this time? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.