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Running a small business can be tough. I have seen many business owners attempt to juggle more than they can effectively handle. They work long hours to tackle the pile of work on their plate, yet they achieve very little in the end. Making optimal use of your time is key to your success.
But productivity really starts with being honest with yourself and knowing your limitations. Regardless of how experienced or smart you are, everyone has limitations. I call them the three Ps: psychological, physical and professional limitations. You can boost your work productivity, even if you lack resources and budget, only when you acknowledge your limitations.
Here are a few tips on how recognizing your limitations can increase productivity:
Wake up your body and mind
A study by Amerisleep tells us that early risers are more productive. Only 48.6% of late risers claimed to be highly productive, compared to 61.2% of those who woke up by 7:00 a.m. Getting up early in the morning makes you more proactive and better positions you to tackle the day, which leads to increased productivity.
But not everyone is born a morning person. Personally, my mind is usually foggy when I wake up. I need at least a cup of coffee and two hours to get myself ready for work in the morning, which is a huge time-waster. So, how can you enhance your morning productivity if you are not naturally a “rise-and-shine” person?
One way is to change your morning routine in order to prep yourself for the day. For example, I use the storytelling alarm clock app Book Morning! to wake me up in the morning. This app tells thrilling stories and is just a fun way to start my day. By listening to the stories, I can stimulate my brain and get it active for work. I also like to get myself physically ready through stretching exercises before getting out of bed. Workout Women app offers yoga exercises that can be completed in only nine minutes.
Know your bio-clock
Everybody has a bio-clock, also known as circadian rhythm. This is the 24-hour cycle that controls the timing of your body’s activities throughout the day, such as sleeping, waking, eating and even your body temperature. Your circadian rhythm ensures that all these processes function according to schedule.
That’s why there are some parts of the day when you feel your mind is most alert. For some people, these are the late morning hours. For others, it could be the hours after lunch. Everyone’s rhythm is different, so the key is to know when you are most productive based on your circadian rhythm, and use those hours to get important work done.
Outsource jobs for utmost productivity
There may be some aspects of work you don’t enjoy as a business owner. Some jobs may be too time-consuming and only produce modest benefits for your business, or they might require the expertise of someone more experienced to accomplish them properly.
This is where you should consider outsourcing certain jobs. Hire expert freelancers for jobs where you lack the expertise or virtual assistants to take the burden of time-consuming work off you. This will free up your time to focus on more important tasks.
Avoid the planning fallacy
Research shows that we tend to underestimate the time it takes to complete a task, a phenomenon called “planning fallacy.” It’s a cognitive bias that can have a significant impact on your overall work performance and lead to productivity issues.
Be honest with yourself: How much can you realistically achieve in a day without getting distracted, burned out or losing motivation? Take on just the amount of work you can handle in a day. Going overboard will lead to poor productivity and a lack of interest in your work as time passes.
Be aware of the effects of food
Did you know that when you eat and what you eat affect your productivity? Food has a direct impact on our cognitive abilities. That’s why people often feel sleepy after lunch if they eat the “wrong” foods. If you want to improve your performance, try to make smarter food choices that include nutritious, energy-giving food.
Eating complex carbohydrates like brown rice and dark chocolate; fruits and vegetables like banana, berries and kale; and protein-rich foods like lean meat or salmon nourishes your body with small amounts of glucose that provide you with energy over the course of the day.
Limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and foods with a lot of salt, saturated fat or sugar, which can make it harder to be productive.
The key to maintaining productivity is an honest self-assessment to find out where your limitations lie. By doing so, you can sidestep stumbling blocks and learn when to slow down and when to forge ahead for long-term productivity.