Many of our clients are entepreneurs or have an entrepreneurial mindset. They’ve founded businesses, run marketing agencies, or have climbed the corporate ladder.
Since I’m always looking for ways to foster productivity and stay motivated, I thought many of you might be too.
Burnout is common when you’re pushing yourself too hard. Most of the things I do to stay grounded have nothing to do with work, but somehow always seem to have a positive impact.
Everyone needs fulfillment and a feeling of accomplishment, but the only way to truly have that is to motivate yourself day-to-day. When you’re always striving to move forward in life, and you manage to foster productivity, you start to feel genuinely happy.
I’m not perfect at it and I suspect no one else is either, but when you make an effort to stay on track, everything starts to get easier.
Everyday can be a productive day
Everyone needs a day off to relax, but what do your days off involve? Are you getting the most out of them?
A day off usually means a day you’re not working, – a break from the stress you deal with during the week. It’s important mentally to have that time to unwind, and days off can often keep you from growing to hate your job, or feeling like you don’t have any relief.
However, you shouldn’t allow yourself to think of your days off as days for doing absolutely nothing.
Spending an entire day watching football, playing video games, or drinking beer, can be perfectly fine on occasion, but it’s not something that should become part of your weekly routine.
It’s easy to see why these aren’t productive and healthy activities. They aren’t the type of relief that leaves you feeling good about yourself when the day is over.
Just because you’re not working that day doesn’t mean you should neglect the other areas of your life that need attention. Having fun on your days off in a way that’s fulfilling will make you happier.
What can you do to stay productive on your days off?
- Recreational activities such as sports (hiking, basketball, cycling, football, soccer, mma, yoga, etc.)
- Exercise, going to the gym, home workouts, jogging, weight lifting, etc.
- Get into a hobby like woodworking, arts and crafts, photography or car repair. Preferably something where there’s an net result.
- Go back to school and take online college classes.
- Read books, tutorials, guides and take free online classes.
- Go to meetup.com and find local events to attend that interest you.
- Spend time with good friends that have similar interests and goals.
- Learn to program and make software, websites, etc.
- Work on an internet project that’s not work related and is enjoyable.
- Make an effort to be more connected with people. As human beings, we have complex social needs that are important to our well-being.
- If you have children or you’re married, take them out and have a good time.
- Fix up your home by painting or doing repairs.
There are a lot of things you can do to be productive on days off that aren’t work related. When you use your days off to do things that make you feel good, you’ll notice a huge improvement in how you feel about yourself and your life. It will impact your day-to-day motivation and help you foster productivity during the week.
Exercise Should Be A Priority
If exercising isn’t something you enjoy doing, you’re going to have to work harder at this, but it’s important that exercise be prioritized.
As one of the many mammals on this planet, exercise has been part of our daily lives for as long as we can trace. From when we hunted for prey to when we farmed the fields, exercise was ingrained and part of our livelihood. Now, working in an office or at a computer is far more likely so we have to work at integrating it into our life.
Exercise releases “feel good” endorphins in the brain – like dopamine and serotonin. There’s a chemical basis for its importance. Additionally, staying in shape keeps us from thinking self-damaging thoughts. You won’t catch yourself thinking you look fat or feeling envious of others when exercise is a priority in your life.
Exercise is a highly effective natural combatant to depression and anxiety. By regularly exercising, you can improve your daily mood and be a much happier person overall. You’ll feel less clouded and more capable of making other changes.
How often should you exercise? A good routine would be 30-60 minutes done 5-6 times per week. This should include both cardio and strength training as too much of one or the other can take a toll on your body.
Your dog knows to drink water, so why do we forget so often?
Dehydration plagues people without them even knowing it.
You can live in a constantly dehydrated state and still function. Because of coffee, energy drinks, and other diuretics, it’s easy to find yourself struggling with dehydration. Coffee does keep you hydrated, but only when your body is used to regular caffeine intake.
You should drink at least 64 ounces of water per day. That’s eight, 8-ounce servings. Other fluids count too – but water doesn’t have to be filtered by your body so it’s easier to process.
If you’re working out or are exposed to high temperatures, then you need even more fluid to counteract your sweating and the fluids you’re losing. You also need more water if you have a high sodium diet, which most of us do.
Staying hydrated gives you energy to do things and it keeps your motor skills sharp.
Addictions kill your drive
We are all susceptible to addiction and unfortunately, addictions come in many varieties.
It’s important to understand that addictions can kill your drive and demotivate you. They are powerful and they often enter your life subtly, making most addictions vastly underestimated.
Whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, prescription pills, hard drugs or something seemingly natural like video games or pornography, addictions have a way of controlling our habits and preoccupying our minds. Before you know it, the only thing that truly matters to you is your addiction.
Addictions drain your body of energy that could otherwise be used productively.
Whether the addiction is physically addictive or not (with noticeable withdrawal symptoms), it often doesn’t matter. If an addiction has become a priority in your life and you see it as a negative influence, or those around you do, then you should do something about it.
Your sleep pattern matters. A lot.
Getting to bed at night at a decent time will help you wake up earlier and be productive.
The truth is, most of us are more productive in the early morning. Night owls tend to thrive at night but mostly because they’ve conditioned themselves to be more alert at night.
The problem with this is that you’re not in sync with the rotation of the earth. When the sun comes up, you’re probably still sleeping. For thousands of years our ancestors have slept when the sun goes down and woke when the sun comes up. Doing the opposite can disrupt brain chemistry, since light actually depletes melatonin and darkness releases it. Melatonin helps you sleep and is an important hormone in the body.
Those who stay up late also tend to disregard having a schedule. 1:00AM comes and passes and before you know you’ve stayed up far later than you ever intended to. If this happens consistently, your body has no way to adapt.
Instead, it’s a good idea to enforce a sleep schedule that makes sense for you. For instance, sleeping by 10 and waking up at 6 would provide you with 8 potential hours of sleep and give you a healthy approach to a better night’s sleep.
- Have you ever laid in bed at night with racing thoughts, unable to fall asleep?
- Have you ever found yourself thinking obsessively about a past event that really doesn’t affect you anymore or have much meaning to your life?
- Have you worried about an upcoming event excessively, even when it’s well in the future?
We’ve all probably had this at one point or another – it’s called anxiety. Anxiety can really start to disrupt your life if you don’t get a handle on it quickly.
The problem is, anxiety is one of those things you really can’t evade. It’s always going to be there to some extent. The more you focus on it, the stronger it becomes. Focus too much and your anxiety can lead to depression and some serious self-doubt.
The goal with meditation is to slow your thinking down and create awareness. Suddenly, you’re not being manipulated by your thoughts, you’re simply observing them as they are.
It allows you to stop thinking excessively and to always have that sense of calm.
Experts recommend 20 minutes of meditation 2x per day. To feel consistently calmer, in better control, and happy, I’d certainly consider it worth it.
Keep your environment clean
A tidy home is a tidy mind. When you feel good about yourself and your life, you’re more likely to clean and keep things looking good. A clean environment then perpetuates those good feelings.
You can get going down the right path by keeping your surroundings clean from the beginning.
Make your bed, fold your laundry, clean the bathroom, vacuum, do the dishes, keep your car clean, and do other household chores that you would normally dread and procrastinate with.
Surround yourself with good people
Make sure your friends and family are contributing to a better you. Often times, this means having friends that are actively working toward bettering themselves as well.
When you surround yourself with good people who are making positive life changes, good things will follow. You’ll feed off the motivation they supply, while contributing and motivating them as well. Collectively, you can work towards a better future together.
If you have a lot of friends that seem to be stagnant and aren’t progressing or making good decisions, you don’t have to eliminate them from your life, but limiting the time you spend with them could provide a positive outcome.
You can use Meetup.com or other websites to find like-minded people that have similar interests and goals. Meetup is great for attending SEO, internet marketing and other meetups where you can find people with the same passions you have.
Don’t procrastinate If It’s Important
Procrastination will make you feel lazy and unproductive. Even if you manage to get things done on time, doing it last second will lead to feeling down.
Instead, get excited and motivated to accomplish things. When you know you have to do something, set a goal to get it done and work it into your schedule.
By ending your procrastination habits, you can stop all the negative thinking that comes from it. You will also benefit from getting things done quickly and you’ll stop forgetting important tasks.
Create a “stop doing” list
You have probably made lists before of things you need to get done – your to-do lists.
It’s strongly encouraged that you create a list of things you want to stop doing as well.
These could be unhealthy habits or things you are just dissatisfied with in your life that maybe you’ve wanted to change but haven’t been successful at.
A good stop doing list will include personal things, like comparing yourself to others, as well as time wasting things that you could easily eliminate.
If you recognize something is making you unhappy and you can see it’s holding you back from focusing your energy where it matters, you now have a list that helps you remember to stop.
The hardest thing to overcome with a “stop doing” list is an excuse. When we are used to do something that we know is wrong, we tend to justify our actions one way or another. The best thing you can do is break-through this mental barrier and accept that it’s unhealthy.
Set Daily Goals
You can’t be productive if you don’t know what productivity means to you.
Goals help you define what your own definition of productivity is and how you plan to accomplish it. At the end of your day, you can look back on the goals you set and determine whether or not you were successful and what you can do to improve things going forward.
Daily goal setting is a very powerful tactic.
If you speak with professional athletes, actors, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and millionaires, daily goal setting is common. With daily goals, you wake up in the morning and know what you need to accomplish – no questions asked. You did the planning the night before, so all you have to do everyday is execute.
At the end of your day, reach for a whiteboard or notepad and quickly jot down your goals and objectives for the next day. Whiteboards work well because they can be erased easily and used for this one specific purpose.
Your daily goals can be anything – personal or business related. It doesn’t have to be too extensive, just a few lines that clearly define what you expect from yourself that day. You can be ambitious with your goals to challenge yourself to work faster and with efficiency, but be careful not to cause unnecessary stress.
What about long-term goals?
Long-term goals are equally important but you won’t accomplish those quickly. If you focus on long-term goals, you’ll get easily discouraged and lose motivation. Short-term goals keep your mind focused and your senses sharp. Have your long-term goals written down so that you can access them when you need a reminder of what you’re working toward.
Create The Feeling Of Having Your Life On Track
If you’ve noticed, so far this guide has been about getting your life on track or at least feeling that way. The better you feel about yourself, the more success you’ll have with everything you do.
Productivity and motivation come from within. There’s no quick and easy fix to capturing this drive on a day-to-day basis.
For the most part, motivation is garbage – take it from Mel Robbins.
You’re never going to feel completely motivated, so start now and fake it till’ you make it.
Prioritize work related tasks
- What tasks are most important to your business?
- Are you wasting time doing things that aren’t contributing to your long-term success?
- What frog do you have to eat? Focus on doing the biggest task first.
Write down everything that you spend time doing for your business and prioritize those tasks based off their importance.
If there’s something that’s becoming a trend in your work life, then it should be prioritized and included in your routine.
Create a work routine
Successful people are generally great planners and they know the importance of having a routine. Your work routine doesn’t have to be set in stone but you should at least have one.
You can’t expect to get much done if you don’t know what you’re working on and when you should be working on it.
Your work routine is different from your daily goals. Your goals are what you want to accomplish for the day, the routine is what order you intend to do it in.
You have to clearly define what work needs to get done and at what point in your day you will do it. This is your routine. You can have the same routine everyday or you can change it up day-to-day.
Some entrepreneurs prefer to have a different routine for each day to keep their work interesting and less repetitive. For instance, you can develop a catch phrase for each day – Marketing Monday, Outreach Tuesday, Writing Wednesday, etc.
Example work routine items for an internet marketer:
- Write blog posts/guides/tutorials and other insightful content
- Workout for 15 minutes using weights and get 30 minutes of cardio in afterward
- Take a break for fifteen minutes and walk outside for fresh air
- Write guest posts and promotional content for building your brand and gaining traffic
- Check email and send replies (Do not constantly check your email throughout the day and instead, schedule this into your work routine)
- Produce videos, infographics and other valuable content for your website
- Reach out to blog owners and influential members in your industry
- Do the dishes, make the bed, and do laundry
Your work routine can be very specific, such as prioritizing a section of your day with a task such as “write 2 blog articles consisting of at least 1,000 words” or it can be more relaxed, such as “write blog articles.” You can even provide yourself with a specific amount of time to get the items done and prioritize based off the time of day, it’s entirely up to you.
You decide how structured you want to be with your work routine. If you work more efficiently with a detailed and highly specific routine then this is how you should structure yourself.
If you work fine without a detailed routine and you want to simply organize the order of what you intend to do for the day, that’s fine too.
If you work from home, your work routine could even include things that are not work related. For instance, you might want to integrate house chores or exercising. By including these in your routine, you’re not stressing over them and attempting to get it done at a random moment throughout your day.
Be sure to incorporate quick breaks into your routine as well. Taking a break can keep your mind fresh and your energy high.
Distractions are anything that limit your attention span and makes it difficult to focus.
Common work distractions include:
- Watching television
- Sending texts and using your smartphone
- BFacebook, Reddit, Instagram and other social networks
- House chores
- Attempting to watch children
- Family members or friends causing disruptions
- Background noise
- Running errands
Mental distractions are common. This is especially true when you work for yourself and are solely responsible for your own success. This gets amplified if you work from home too. Things like laundry and dishes can preoccupy your mind. Then there’s job stress, financial difficulty, relationship problems, and dozens of other things that can cause you to worry and lose focus. If you’re not determined and able to eliminate those mental distractions, being an entrepreneur and running a business gets overwhelming. Going back to a 9-5 jobs starts to seem easier and less stressful.
The more you can eliminate physical and mental distractions, the better off you’re going to be.
Perfect conditions probably won’t happen
If you’re waiting for the absolute perfect moment to start a new project or follow your dreams, it’s probably never going to come. Perfect conditions rarely happen and motivation is garbage.
Chase after your goals immediately, don’t wait for the right moment to chase after you. You shouldn’t let present conditions deter you from working hard, because there’s always going to be something in the way.
One Task at a time
Sometimes we’re juggling multiple projects at a time, but we don’t need to be juggling multiple tasks at a time.
Focus on what’s immediately important based off your prioritization and work routine.
The beginning months of starting a business are always the hardest. It’s a time when you’re working for little pay and all that you have is the desire to succeed. Your willingness to keep going and stay focused through the hardest times is what builds character and leads to success. Staying focused on a single task a time will help you tremendously.
Outsource if it makes sense
Outsourcing can help reduce your own workload and get things done more efficiently. You can build a better business by outsourcing.
If you’re spending a lot of time on something that could be outsourced to a virtual assistant or freelancer, then it’s worth pursuing.
Founders don’t have the capacity to do everything.
However, in the beginning, you’re often forced into doing everything yourself. This is a good thing because it allows you to learn the ins and outs of your business, but there comes a time with every task that it could be more efficiently outsourced.
Do things right the first time
You’ve probably heard this before but it couldn’t be more true.
By doing things right the first time, you’ll save yourself from frustration, worry, and poor results. Try to do everything as perfectly as possible the first time around. You won’t have to fix things, you’ll never be ridiculed for doing a lousy job, and you’ll know that you always produce quality work that you can be proud of.
Understand that momentum builds slowly
Don’t expect to foster productivity and motivation immediately. Momentum builds slowly but is pivotal for success.
In the beginning, you can start by making subtle changes in your life and work toward implementing all of these suggestions. Be prepared for gradual progress and not an overnight change.
As for me – It’s easy to write a guide like this and it’s a lot harder to actually implement these strategies.
I stand behind everything here, but I’m far from perfect at it. I think the most important thing is to use these tips as a reference. When you feel off track, come back for ideas and consistently work toward getting things right.