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How to be productive

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Ever feel like your to-do lists are getting longer and longer, but you're less and less motivated? Between balancing the studio, home life, and personal relationships, it can often seem like there must be a better way to be more productive.


Being productive literally means getting stuff done and, let's face it, while we studio owners know exactly how to get routines finished in record time, prepare students for exams and put a whole show (or two) featuring hundreds of performers on stage at the end of each year - sometimes procrastination or sheer exhaustion gets in the way when it comes to the admin tasks that keep our businesses ticking over.


But the good news is there are ways to be more productive when it comes to studio admin - and no, they don't involve sitting in front of your laptop until the early hours of the morning or getting up at 5am to start work!


The most important tool for being productive is planning and physically blocking out time in your schedule for those areas you want to focus on whether that's coming up with a marketing schedule for your summer school or planning next year's studio calendar of events.


You may feel so overwhelmed that you don’t think you have the time to set aside for additional activities or even planning, for that matter. But the thing is, you actually do because we all have space to move things around so we spend time on what really matters to us.


KNOW HOW YOU SPEND YOUR TIME

When you track how your day actually unfolds, you can better understand where you can make adjustments to be able to prioritise your true needs.


Start by keeping track of how much time you spend on studio tasks for a week (check out our Do, Ditch & Delegate Time Tracker) and by the end of that week you should have a clearer idea of how much time you are spending and on what. From there it should be easier to recognise areas of improvement in which you can either delegate or ditch certain activities altogether.


Another invaluable method for boosting productivity is noting which hours of the day you are more energetic and enthused to get those pressing tasks done. Knowing when you work best and under what conditions is key to being able to plan your day for ultimate success.

PLAN FOR PRODUCTIVITY

The bottom line is: To be productive, you have to plan for it. Everything in life becomes more efficient and organised if you have a rough plan in place and there is no getting around it.


Before you start work in the morning, create a prioritised to-do list so you know exactly what you need to get done. Sticking to a schedule will help you stay regimented and as alert as possible, because when you know what to expect, it's less daunting to start your day—no matter what you have on your plate.


It can also be a good habit to take stock of next week’s schedule every Friday afternoon in order to delegate tasks, work out what's important, and leave room for anything time-sensitive.


'EAT THE FROG' EARLY

As Mark Twain is often attributed for saying: “If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.”


Applied to productivity, your "frog" is that pressing task you need to achieve in the day, and it is best to get it done first. The earlier you eat the frog, the less the task weighs on your mind, which literally frees up your time. So, the tip here is to make something difficult - like that phone call to the parent who always seems to have an issue - as easy as possible. The sooner you get it done, the better!

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

According to a 2017 American Psychological Association survey, constantly checking and responding to emails - even on your "days off" - leads to increased stress. If you find yourself becoming one of those "constant checkers," try setting pre-determined time frames for opening up your inbox.


You could also try the Pomodoro Technique, where you simply set a timer for 25 minutes and commit to devoting yourself entirely to a specific task for that allotted time period. Once 25 minutes have passed, you can take a five-minute break and then resume for another session. This process trains you to get into the flow and become addicted to making achievements by the way of Pomodoro sessions you can actually check off.


COMMIT TO AN 'END' TO YOUR DAY

Just as its important to start your day properly, setting a hard stop for the day is crucial for lasting productivity—especially when you work for yourself. It's easy to work extra-long hours but that can lead to burnout and ultimately, a dip in productivity. Create the same sense of rigidity in clocking out as you would if you had a train or bus to catch.

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