How to be Productive on a Startup Schedule

Jennifer Vargas of manages to have fun while being productive.  She shares her tips on how to focus on priorities and still attend to what matters in her life.  First in her tips is to assign a weight to one’s priorities – work, family, friends, health, etc.  Knowing what matters minimizes indecision.  Which of your daily activities are time wasters?  Count the minutes or hours you spend on your activities – work, social networking, watching television, etc.  Which distracts you from doing your work?  Omit these activities or at least minimize the time spent on them.  Get more work done and attend to things you need to do.  Vargas says you need to balance work with your social life while having fun to avoid getting burnt out.  Read more on her article that appeared in Young Entrepreneur Council.

1.  Figure out what matters. If you don’t know (or aren’t told, as the case may be) what’s important to you, it’s pretty impossible to focus on it. These days there are a few things that matter to me:
- Growing my business (70%)
- Cooking more and eating better (15%)
- Personal growth and learning (15%).
Knowing what you want to and need to focus on helps to filter out all of the noise and distractions. Assigning a weight to a certain bucket in your “what matters” list helps to eliminate the need for a lot of time-consuming decision making.

2.  Figure out what’s hogging your attention. Become extremely self-aware, or use an app that does it for you. A combination of both is most effective. Start paying attention to how you spend your time.

3.  Kill those things. Get them out of your life. Or at least minimize their potential for distracting you. Some things to consider killing:
- Growl notifications: I turned these off during college and never looked back.
- Twitter notifications: Disable that now.
- Alert Sounds: My exception to this rule is the “first IM received” notification in Adium.
- Your TV: If you have one, unplug it from the wall.

4.  Get stuff done. Now that all of the distractions are out of the way, get to work!

5.  Rinse and repeat! Keeping your time in check is an ongoing process. Every couple of months (or couple of weeks if you feel yourself slipping), stop and take an audit of your time again.

6.  Productivity is great, but balance is better. Don’t forget to build in time for play. Not everything you do needs to fit into your “what matters” buckets. Sometimes you just have to turn off your brain. Burnout is a much bigger problem than losing a few hours to a movie or aimlessly poking around Facebook. Don’t forget to have a social life. Don’t forget to have fun. Most importantly, don’t burn out. …

Photo by Luciano Munhoz

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