1. Hire a Virtual Assistant (VA). Thanks to the Internet, working virtually is cheaper and more productive than ever before. Today you can hire a VA for as little as $4 – $15/hour. VAs are awesome. They can make appointments for you over the phone and via email. They can do grunt research, creative writing, and draft email responses. Some VAs will do graphic design, website design, social media, sales copy – practically anything. The biggest issue you may run into is a language barrier. Generally, you’ll pay more for VAs who are more proficient in English. That said, certain sites allow you to recruit VAs from the US and Europe.
The first site I recommend you visit is Fiverr, where people offer to perform “gigs” for a base rate of $5 per gig. This is a great site to begin your VA search, and it will cost you almost nothing. The other site I use to hire VAs is Odesk. You can find all sorts of skilled people on this site. I employee a graphic designer, a content writer, a web designer, a social media manager, and a SEO expert, all of whom I’ve sourced through Odesk. But learning how to hire a VA is a time-consuming and challenging task. If you want to locate a reliable VA without the hassle of trial and error, you should hire my company, INConsulting.
2. Check email only twice a day. If you’re in college, cut down on your use of email and Facebook. Both of these applications are excellent time-wasters. Think about it: would you rather set out to study for 4 hours, and then read every post your friends have made in those 4 hours? Or would you prefer to study for two hours, get a better grade, and then hang out in person with your friends for 2 hours? If you think you can’t do your job without email, do a one- or two-day experiment where you check your email only at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. I make my living by consulting and communicate primarily though email, yet I’ve found that nothing ever goes awry if I check my email only twice a day. (Okay, I admit that I often check it 3 times a day, because my employees in India start working at 9 a.m. and I have to email directions to them at 9 p.m.)
3. Write out your schedule the day or night before! To further increase productivity, use block scheduling. Block scheduling is when you dedicate a precise period to each project. You won’t believe how much this one tip can increase productivity. Better yet, just before you go to bed, write out what you need to accomplish over the next day. My mentor, a bestselling author and millionaire, first taught me about previous-night scheduling and block scheduling. After that, I kept noticing that every successful person I read about or talked to recommended the same thing. People like Tim Harris, David J. Schwartz (author of bestselling book The Magic of Thinking Big), and Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) all talk about the importance of scheduling the night before.
I’m not stressing this tip just because all the success gurus do it, but because it’s made a HUGE difference in my own productivity! Every night before I go to bed, I create a blocked schedule to-do list for me to follow the next day. Honestly, it’s nuts. I am about 400% more effective on the days when I write out my schedule in advance – and man, does it feel good to check my to-do list at the end of the day and see that I’ve crossed off every single item. Not only does this practice increase productivity, but writing it down before you go to sleep will help your mind absorb it all. As a result, you don’t wake up worrying about everything you need to do that day. Here’s an example of how I block schedule:
4. Remove other distractions. It’s been shown that multitasking is not as efficient as focusing attention on one task at a time. Yet, in today’s world, it’s difficult not to multitask. Every day, ask yourself, ‘If I could only accomplish one thing today, what thing would make me feel like I had a successful day?’ Whatever that one thing is, focus on getting it done at the time of day when you do your best work (for many, this is when they first wake up).
While working on this task, close your browser. Turn off or mute your phone. Do not check email, Facebook or Twitter. If you’re in an office where constant interruptions are the norm, talk to your boss about having a do-not-disturb time in your day where people can’t bother you unless there’s an emergency. I used this technique when I was in HR at Target. I’d hang a sign on my office door that said “Beast Mode” – and people knew not to bother me while that sign was up. After I implemented the do-not-disturb rule, I reduced the time I spent working on the employee schedule from 20 hours a week to 8 hours a week.
Being more productive not only makes you fell awesome, but it can greatly increase your bottom line, thus increasing your revenue! These 4 points can make a major impact on your life, allowing you to make more money and spend more time with the people you care about!