Tame Your Time-Wasters to Boost Your Productivity

If you work for yourself, and especially if you work from home, you are probably inundated with time-wasters and distractions. While it may seem like checking Facebook throughout the day or reading your email all the time may seem like it's only robbing you of a few minutes here and there, it's likely that you're more distracted then you might think. And, even if you are wasting just a few minutes a day, added up weekly, monthly, or annually, that can be a lot of your time. And lost time equals lost revenue. This is why it's critical that you reduce your distractions. Notice that I didn't say remove - in many cases, it's not always possible to completely remove your distractions - but we can get them under control. Here's how

Prioritize. Without deciding what your priorities and goals are, it can be tricky how to spend your time, and frequently you may end up spending your time on whatever the bright shiny object of the day is - which typically is not what will help propel your business forward. Make sure to set some clear goals around your business, and each evening, spend a few minutes planning out what your key priorities and tasks are for the following day. When distractions pop up, you can then revisit your list of priorities and see if the distractions are in service of, or are working against, the goals you've laid out for yourself

Let tech help - not hurt. We are inundated with things that "ping" us - our phone vibrating to let us know about a new text message, a pop-up on our screen that says email is waiting for us (when isn't it?), and our social media stream alerting us to a new friend request. Don't get me wrong - connecting with other people is great, and for many of us, these forms of communication are an essential part of how we do business. That said, we typically don't need to monitor them - or have them interrupt us - all the time. These communication streams may seem urgent and immediate, but upon closer inspection, they are very seldom critically important to your bigger goals in the moment in which you receive them. Rather, it's much better if you choose a few times a day to process your various inboxes, and then switch gears to tasks that you've given priority to.

Home is not work. If you work from home, sometimes it's a little too easy to fall into a rut of low productivity. You can get distracted by the dishes in the sink, or the laundry piling up in the corner - things which you typically may not otherwise be motivated to do, except for the fact that you have a big project that you need to start, and suddenly those chores seem of paramount importance. It's absolutely essential that you create some boundaries between your work life and your home life so you can reduce these distractions. Remove all distractions from your line-of-sight while you're at your desk (yes, that means the TV too!), let your friends and family know what your work hours are, and discourage them from contacting you during those times unless they need you urgently. Bonus points: get dressed for work, as if you might be called to leave for an important client meeting at any moment. You'll instantly start taking yourself, and your day, more seriously.

Reducing your distractions is key to boosting your productivity - and your profits - in your business.

Joshua Zerkel, Productivity Strategist, is a Certified Professional Organizer and the founder of Custom Living Solutions, the San Francisco Bay Area's premier productivity and organizing consulting firm. Joshua specializes in helping busy entrepreneurs save time, be more productive and make more money by getting organized at home and at work. http://www.customlivingsolutions.com

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