The life of an entrepreneur is often compared to a marathon. Building a business from scratch and keeping at it until it develops into the dream that they began with is no easy task. It is a long process that requires a lot of patience, strategy, and the right attitude—everything a marathon runner needs. However, just like all athletes, it is not uncommon for an entrepreneur to fall into a slump occasionally. Just like how a cricketer’s form comes and goes, entrepreneur energy sometimes plummets and sometimes soars. When you are in a slump, how do you tackle the work that piles up on your desk? Here are four productivity-enhancing techniques to devote yourself to when you feel the usual magic missing.
The Pomodoro Technique: Many of us might already be practicing this technique without realizing what it is called. The average brain has an attention span of around 40 minutes, meaning it could be anywhere between 20 minutes to 45 minutes for a majority of the population. The Pomodoro Technique is all about breaking the workday into chunks of 25 minutes each and allowing yourself a break time of five minutes afterwards. Get yourself a timer and give this technique a try to understand the value of using up every minute of your optimal focus time. When big tasks are broken into smaller tasks, they tend to appear less daunting. This technique also reduces your risk of repetitive work-related injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow, especially in the case of artists, cake decorators and others who use their hands extensively for continuous periods at a stretch.
Eat That Frog: Mark Twain famously said, “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In his quote, he was referring to the tasks we tend to neglect, the ones that end up being procrastinated for so long that we lose all interest and motivation. Combine it with the ‘Power Hour’ technique where you find an extra hour every morning and devote it to tackle the tasks you dread the most.
The Kanban Method: If you are a fan of to-do lists (down to the finest details!) the Kanban method would work great for you. It involves splitting all tasks into three: the tasks you need to do, the tasks you are currently working on, and the ones that you have already tackled. Depending on the nature of your task, you can create additional columns to suit yours. For example, if you are a writer, it will make sense for you to have additional columns for proofreading. The pure joy you get from moving one task from one column to another, and finally watching everything accumulate under the ‘Finished’ column will make you want to add more to-do tasks just for a taste of that final feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction!
The Zen to Done Approach: This one is no quick-fix technique to power through work on a slump day. Instead, the Zen to Done technique involves more commitment and discipline compared to the other three techniques. The focus is on developing habits that will bring order and structure to your work, making it nearly impossible for you to slack off once you see the difference it brings about. From assigning a ‘power hour’ to setting daily, weekly, monthly goals, the habits that you choose can cover your work life as well as your personal life in order to reach the perfect balance between the two.
While these techniques are tried and tested by many, there is no single technique that works for everybody. Your style of working, optimal focus time etc are factors that affect your productivity and those vary from person to person. So, don’t worry if you need to alter or modify these techniques a bit to suit your style of working. For instance, if you find that you can focus a bit longer than the 25-minute window of the Pomodoro Technique, increase your time. Or merge a few techniques and see what makes you power through your tasks comfortably. If there is a visible increase in your productivity at the end of the day, stick to the technique and improve it bit by bit as each day goes by.