We all have 24 hours in a day so why is it that some people seem to get so much done and others don't? It's how they use the time they have and structure their day that matters. One of the questions I get asked the most is, "how do you get so much done in so little time?". It starts with knowing the right things to be working on and then being as productive as possible. In this episode, I will share how you can be insanely productive – lean style - and get 5 to 10 hours back every week. I'll share how I structure my days in a way that allows me to get things done faster, with higher quality, and far better results.
In this episode, I share:
- My top 3 tips for productivity and time back in your day
- Limiting your WIP (Work in Progress)
- Stop Starting, Start Finishing
- An example of your work week when using these Lean concepts
- How I make content creation a productive activity
- How I incorporate self-care into my week
- How to make the best of your focus blocks
- How I structure my weeks in a lean way
- How to create the conditions for focus
- Your next steps
Tune into Episode 8 of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast or keep reading below.
How To Be Insanely Productive - Lean Style
One of my favorite topics is how to be insanely productive. This is a topic that gets a lot of attention, especially now that we live in world where most of us are working from home.
One of the questions I get asked all the time is, "how do you get so much done?". I frequently get jokes like, "Do you ever sleep?", "Do you have an army of people that are supporting you?", etc. I do have an amazing team, which is one of my secrets. However, I want to share with you how I structure my day in a way that results in insane productivity.
Inside my Lean Out Accelerator and private coaching, I help my clients get anywhere from 5 to 10 hours back every single week. It helps them to completely transform the way they work and the way that they approach their business because of the extra time – which some of them choose to invest in more profit-producing activities, and some choose to invest it in some much needed self-care.
If you've been following my work for a while, you know how much I love focus blocks. This is where you take an uninterrupted block of time and either work on a single activity or a group of like activities, which is basically batching together a lot of similar content. The longer the focus block, the better. When you combine focus blocks with two Lean concepts I want to share with you, it's an absolute game changer that will give you back time in your week.
Limiting WIP (Work in Progress)
This Lean concept is when you take a look at the things you're doing and making sure that you're not working on too many things at once. Most people tend to scatter their energy and work on a lot of different things at the same time, which results in finishing very little or compromising the quality of their work. Even outside of a focus block, generally speaking, the more focused you are, the quicker you are going to achieve a result.
When you put your focused attention on one thing or some similar things together, you'll end up getting far better results, far quicker, and with higher quality. When the projects or tasks are finished, that means you'll start to bring in revenue sooner and you'll start seeing time savings back right away. You don't get benefits from something by working on it. You get benefits from something by finishing it and completing it.
Stop Starting, Start Finishing
Stop starting, start finishing is a lean concept that is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of constantly starting something new, it's about focusing on the things you have in progress first.
This can be hard for entrepreneurs, especially creative and very strategic individuals because the initial idea can sometimes be the most exciting part of the process. It's easy to get bored with an idea and choose to start something else for the excitement. We've all been there.
Example work week using these concepts
If you work Monday through Friday, by Wednesday of the week, so mid-week, let's say you had ten items on your to-do list for the week. On Wednesday, you should see about half of those items done. Five of those items should be fully finished, and five of those items should not yet be started.
The opposite, and what we don't want, is to get to the mid-point of the week and have ten things in progress and zero finished. This can result in an overwhelming and exhausting day at the end of your week. I always tell people, "Check yourself on Wednesday during your week to see where you're at with your priorities."
"If you can put your focused attention on just one thing, you will end up getting far better results, more quickly, and with higher quality." - Crista Grasso Click to Tweet
How to use focus blocks for self-care
If you are someone who loves to work as much as I do, you understand how easy it is to let self-care slide sometimes. That's why I make self-care a priority using focus blocks.
On the weekends, I give myself long focus blocks, sometimes 4 or 8 hours, for self-care. Because I know I work best when I have consistency across the weekend, similar to my weekdays, focus blocks for things like self-care work really well for me.
You can also use this same strategy for things like exercise, self-development, or whatever it is that you want to do to create protected space for yourself.
Play to your strengths for optimal results
Are you at your best in the mornings or evenings? If you know you're at your absolute best and most productive in the mornings, then schedule your focus block for the morning.
The same goes for when you work best on certain tasks. For example, I do my content management focus blocks on Sundays because I've learned over the years that I feel most creative on Sunday's where I have the time and space to creatively put pen to paper, sit and write. Sunday is also when I plan for the following week.
Consider when you are most productive and if there are any particular days that you would like to dedicate to a certain task.
Create conditions to focus
In order to be successful with your focus blocks, it's important to make sure you create the conditions to focus. This means that you're preparing your workspace so that you don't have to get up in the middle of your work session. Have your water, coffee, notebook, snacks, pen, sticky notes or whatever it is that you need to work at your best. A few of my conditions to focus are having fresh flowers in my office, coffee or tea, my whiteboard, and an abundance of sticky notes and markers.
The second part of this is removing everything you don't need from your space.
That means if you don't need your phone, go put your phone in the other room and charge it or stick it in a drawer. At a minimum, make sure that you turned your notifications off so you're not getting dinged every five seconds and getting your attention pulled in another direction. If you're working online, consider closing out your browser tabs and turning off your email notifications.
Another important piece is communicating to those in your household or on your team that you are in a two hour focus block and not to interrupt unless it's critical.
The idea is to create those conditions to focus so you truly have uninterrupted time.
Take some time to get your focus blocks scheduled, set expectations with those in your space, and clear out any distractions so you can get to work, and most important, get things done.
I will be talking about this again in a few upcoming episodes where I'll share with you all of the ways you can get back a lot of time in your week.
For now, I want to hear from you!
What are your conditions to focus?
Share in the comments below.
by Crista Grasso
Crista Grasso is the go-to strategic planning expert for leading global businesses and online entrepreneurs when they want to scale. Known as the "Business Optimizer", Crista has the ability to quickly cut through noise and focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact to scale a business simply and sustainably. She specializes in helping businesses gain clarity on the most important things that will drive maximum value for their clients and maximum profits for their business. She is the creator of the Lean Out Method, 90 Day Lean Out Planner, and host of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast. She is also the founder and CVO of the Profitable Planner Co and Criscara Jewelry.