Key Podcast Highlights
What Are Three Ways You Can Increase Your Productivity?
- Know your on and off times. If morning is your most productive time, then plan around that and vice versa. Gear your activities around your most productive times in the day.
- Arrange your day in blocks. You want to block out times for each task to focus on only that one task. For example, block out time for only answering emails.
- Delegate tasks. You have employees and contractors for a reason. They want to do the work. Delegating helps you stay focused on the most important things.
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Hey everybody, it’s Gene Marks and welcome to this week’s edition of The Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast. This week I wanna talk to you about productivity. I consider myself to be a very productive person. I run a business with 10 people at about 600 active clients. I do this podcast and other activities with other large clients. I write in a lot of different places every week. I’m writing for The Guardian, The Hill, The Philly Inquirer, The Washington Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur. I mean, it’s a lot. It’s a lot. And people ask me like, how do I get all of it done. And amazingly, it to me like just has always not been a big issue. I mean, I am still completely current on Ted Lasso and The Morning Show. I do read a lot of books.
I get stuff done. It’s one of my strengths. I have many weaknesses. One of my strengths is I’m able to get stuff done. And remember, if you want something done, you always give it to a busy person because busy people tend to be productive. And if you’ve got yourself together and manage what you’re doing well, you can get a lot done in a day. So, when you ask like, how do you become productive? I wanted to focus this podcast episode on what I do. And there are really three easy ways to increase your productivity. This really applies to everybody. I mean, you have to have a certain personality to be really a super productive person.
I get that. But if you do these three things, I promise you, you will increase your productivity. So lemme tell you what they are. The first thing that you need to do is you need to know your on and your off times. You have to know yourself. Like, I am really good in the mornings. I tend to lag in the early afternoons. The morning time is like my most productive time of the day. So I get up early, I get up at five in the morning and I write and I do stuff, and I get more done. I swear to God, between five in the morning and eight in the morning than I do in a lot of cases for the rest of the day because I’m just like a machine. I know when I’m really strong, sometimes I can get energy in the evenings and say, “okay, if I’ve got something motivated that I gotta do,” I can get it done and get myself up to doing it.
But I just gotta tell you, whenever I know I’ve got a big thing to work on, a quote, to get out, a proposal, to work on, something to write, something to record, some kind of thing, I know my best time is first thing in the morning, like early. Now, that might not be for you. Maybe you’re a late night person. I know lots of people that are terrible in the mornings. That’s fine. I know other people that are super productive late at night. Their brains don’t really start cooking until 10 o’clock at night. That’s also fine as well. You just need to look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. When are you most productive? And gear your activities around your most productive times, at least the activities that take the most amount of thought. So know your on and off times, and then lean into those times, okay?
Take advantage of them. There is nothing wrong with taking a nap in the middle of the day. There is nothing wrong with being out of the office between three and six because you’re just slow that part of the day. As long as you’re making up for it in your, in your good times, maybe you’re in the morning or maybe late at night or other times during the day. So know your on and off times. That’s number one. Number two, arrange your day in blocks. For example, when I get up and I’m gonna write a piece for Small Biz Ahead or for The Guardian or for The Hill, I know that’s what I’m gonna be doing for the next two hours. So I’m blocking it out, man. Like, I’m not looking at emails. My door is shut. I’ve got classical music playing in the background, and I am just focused on that one task.
When I’ve done that task. I have block of time during the day where I devote to emails. As I’m recording this right now, I know for a fact I’m getting emails and my inboxes building up. But you know what? I’m not dealing with emails right now. In fact, when I’m done recording this, I’ve got something else I’ve got. I gotta talk to a couple of people. I’m not gonna get to emails for another couple of hours. And I get it. I know it, but I know that it’s on my day to get to my emails. And when I do get to my emails, I’m gonna be doing nothing else than clearing out my inbox. So, block out your days and then whatever you block your days out, focus on what’s in that block. Don’t take any distractions. Somebody comes knocking on your door, somebody’s calling your phone, somebody’s taking an email, somebody’s passing by your office.
If your block is set to be doing something else, you either have your door closed, your phone on do not disturb, you’re not checking your email, and you politely say, I’ll be back to you later. I’m focusing on this. Block out your days and stay focused on what you’re doing within that block. And then you get stuff done. That is how you do it. Number three, and finally is delegate. I am busy. I get it, you know, I’ve got a lot to do during the day, but I gotta tell you something. Here’s my story. For years, I coached a little league team and my co-coach and a little league team was the managing partner of a large law firm in Philadelphia. I mean a large law firm, and he was the managing partner.
I mean, you talk about like a responsible job. That guy was there for every little league practice in every little league game. He made choices. And when I asked him like, how do you do it? You know, like, you’ve got a lot to do, a lot of responsibility, but you’re here for your kids’ games. I know that’s a priority. He says, listen, I’m a managing partner for a reason. When people, ask for things to get done, the first thought that comes into my mind is not, “oh, I’ve gotta do that.” It’s “who’s gonna do that for me?” And that should be the first thought that always comes into your mind as well. Obviously…
There’s some stuff that you are tasked with doing on your own. But there are a lot of things that you can be outsourcing now and a lot more in the future. As AI and conversational AI and ChatGPT, like products get better and better to lean on. I’m telling you right now, when people assign you tasks, you have to say to yourself, what as a business owner, who else can I get to do this for me? You have employees for a reason. You have contractors for a reason. You have accountants and attorneys and advisors and subcontractors. They all wanna do the work. It makes more sense for you to delegate work to somebody else so you can stay focused on the more important things. You’ll be way more productive that way. And it’s not like the work isn’t getting done, it’s getting done.
It’s just that you’ve assigned somebody else to do the work on your behalf. So delegate and that way you will be productive. So let me sum up if I’m a busy guy, but a very productive guy. There are three easy ways to increase your productivity. Number one, know your on and off times. When you are super productive certain times of the day, that’s the time of day to do your stuff. When you know that you’re not so great at certain other times of the day, fine, give up. Do something less than that. Just know when your super productive times of the day are, know when they’re not and lean into it. Number two, arrange your day in blocks. Block out when you’re gonna do emails, when you’re gonna do proposals, when you’re gonna be on the phone, when you’re gonna have meetings. And stick to those blocks and only do what’s in that block.
Do not get distracted by other things that are trying to get your attention away. Focus on the block. And number three, delegate. When somebody, when you’re running a business, something comes up or something needs to be done, your first question should always be, who is gonna do that for me? You can supervise them. You can still be involved, but this way you can maximize your productivity by maximizing the resources that are at your hand, which are your employees and your staff, and your contractors and your advisors, and all the other people that are out there waiting for you to give them work to do so they can help you out. Those are three easy ways to increase your productivity, and they have worked for me for more than 20 years. So that’s my advice to you, and I hope that that helps. You’ve been listening to Gene Marks, and this is The Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast. If you need any help or advice or tips in running your business, please visit us at SmallBizAhead.com or SBA.thehartford.com. Again, this is Gene Marks. I’ll be back to you next week with another episode of this podcast. See you then.
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