Small Business Productivity Hacks for the Lazy

Business Owners

There’s a small portion of the people in the world that are just ridiculously motivated. You know who I’m talking about: the people that get antsy when they spend more than a half hour watching TV; the ones that fully schedule their weekends and have to always be doing something productive.

I’m not one of those people.

I’m one of the people who can binge watch a show on Netflix for an entire day. I could seriously give Jennifer Lawrence a run for her money.

Small Business Productivity Hacks for the Lazy

But just like those crazy productive people, I also have to get stuff done. Wondering how I do it? These are my real life productivity hacks for us lazy people.

Just like those crazy productive people, I also have to get stuff done. Wondering how I do it? These are my real life productivity hacks for us lazy people, plus a free productivity worksheet to help you get started!

Scheduling

The most important thing you can do as a small business owner – or a lazy human being – is to schedule. First, choose how and where you’ll write down your schedule. You can get a paper calendar (yes, this tech geek used a paper calendar for almost 2 years) or use some other program/app. I use Evernote for my scheduling currently.

Start with how long the project will likely take. Then, just to be sure, add an extra hour or two. Once you’ve got the time constraints down, look at when you can fit that project in. Keep in mind the length of time you personally can work on something before your brain goes wonky. For example, for my projects I start getting antsy around the hour mark, so (almost) everything is scheduled in hourly increments. Also:

  • Schedule broad strokes (daily), not minute-by-minute.
  • Don’t over-schedule yourself.

Whether this is work or everyday life projects, scheduling all the time in beforehand can make things easier to start and keep up with.

To Do’s – They don’t have to suck!

Once you’ve got the scheduling in, you’re half-way through the To do section already! See how easy this is!

Most of your daily To Do’s should be made up of the work you’ve already scheduled. Additional items on your list can cover everything from returning phone calls to email responses to scheduling in a new project. Anything you’ll need to do that day, add it to your To Do List in a new section.

Now you’re daily calendar should look something like this:

Project 1
Project 2
Project 3

Call back Benedict Cumberbatch
Schedule in New Project 4
Return all Emails

Remember this is for you

This isn’t for the crazy person you know that accomplishes a million things a day without breaking a sweat. This is for you. If you’re not a morning person, don’t plan to get up at 6am and finish everything before noon. If you need to exercise in the middle of the day so you can keep working, don’t ignore that.

Basically, stop taking all the specific advice that everyone wants to give and work with your own natural rhythms. There’s nothing wrong with them. And trust me, it’s much less stressful to work with yourself than against yourself.

Pay Attention to How You Feel

I know, I know. I won’t get all touchy-feely on you. But trust me, how you’re feeling can radically effect how much work you accomplish.

Now I’m not saying your feelings should dictate when you work. That is a surefire way to fail. In fact, the best thing you can do is work even when you don’t feel like it.

What I’m talking about is paying attention to your body – trust me, it’s telling you important things. Getting antsy? Probably means you need to get up and move a bit. Are you thirsty? Like you, reading this right now – are you thirsty and you just haven’t noticed? Go get a glass of water. How did that lunch you ate make you feel afterwards? Did it lull you into an afternoon dullness or provide energy to continue working?

Our bodies are constantly providing feedback to help us run at optimal levels. And the great thing is that you don’t have to be motivated to listen to it! In fact, sometimes listening to your body lets you be lazy, like taking a dancing break instead of starting straight into the next project. But you won’t know why you are underperforming unless you pay attention.

Create Habits

If you do nothing else on this list, do this one. Creating habits hijacks your willpower into doing things that you would never normally do. In 2015, I started working out daily using a habit. And a year and a month later, I’m still going strong.

Trust me, habits are the best thing that ever happened to lazy people.

How do you create a habit? Follow these easey steps:

  1. Find a cue. Some strong cues include waking up, when you feel tired in the afternoon, or right when you come home.
  2. Build a habit. Insert habit here.
  3. Get a reward. Every habit should provide you with a reward. But BE CAREFUL. Rewards should be intrinsically tied to the habit. For example, the high you get after working out is an intrinsic reward. Eating chocolate cake after working out is a fake reward.

Want to know more about habits? Check out How to Effectively Create a New Habit and read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Don’t Think

Uh, yeah, you probably wasn’t expecting this one. It might even seem a little contradictory to the previous steps. But this is actually remarkably effective in day-to-day tasks. You know all those small items on your list that you don’t want to start? The biggest roadblock to getting things done is you. Stop thinking. Don’t think about it, just start at the top of the list and keep moving down.

Don’t multitask

Not multitasking is ironically very rewarding. To do one thing at a time and devote all your brainpower to it not only gets the task done quicker and better, but gives a sort of “brain-high”.

Now technically, multitasking is a misnomer. Your brain never actually does two things at once, it just quickly switches between the two. Ever tried to multitask and ended up feeling tired? That’s because your brain was running sprints between tasks trying to keep up. 

In fact, that “brain high” is probably just a more natural state that we aren’t used to due to our intense focus on multi-tasking in America. So give it up! I promise, multitasking does more harm than good.

Take Breaks

Now that we’re through all the big ones, let’s take a look at a few small things that can galvanize action in even the laziest of people!

And we’ll start with an easy one: taking breaks! Yes, taking breaks actually can help you accomplish more. It is, however, important to take breaks CORRECTLY.

A good break completely removes you from what you’re doing, making your body and mind switch to a different activity. For example, if you’re sitting down working on a computer for a project, a bad break is switching to Pinterest. Your body is doing the same thing – sitting – and your brain is still actively involved in a screen. A good break would be to stand up and go for a walk outside. Or go cook a healthy lunch. Both get you standing, moving, and off the screen.

But since we’re lazy and our breaks can last … a little longer than they should, here’s another good option to get stuff done below.

Change Locations

I have a home office that I work at every day. But despite being a space specifically for work, sometimes I just don’t feel like working. Now I could just work anyway, and sometimes I do. But remember, I’m lazy. So instead of working when I feel like not working, I just move to different location – so I feel like working! 

Manipulating your emotions by changing locations totally works. No shame, man. No shame.

Bribe Yourself

And here we are. Bottom of the barrel. You’ve done everything else, and you still just can’t seem to get started on that one project. We’ve all been there. Well maybe not those crazy motivated people, but all the rest of us.

So just do it. Go to a coffee shop and buy your favorite sugar-ladened grown-up milkshake, and sip it while you start working on the dreaded project. Or turn on your favorite music while you work. Or go sit on the couch instead of at a desk. Or change into pajamas instead of work clothes. The best bribes are when you get something you really like WHILE you are working.

Sure, this shouldn’t be your default working state, but once in a while? Give yourself a break. You’re only human.

Productivity Hacks for the Lazy List

Still with me? I know, it was a long article. I’m sure we lost a few of our fellow lazy people at the top, but look at you – making it all the way to the bottom. Already you’re being more productive.

Ready to put these tips to good use? Enter your email below to get the free productivity worksheet.

Just remember the keys to productivity for the lazy:

  1. Scheduling
  2. To Do lists
  3. Remember this is for you
  4. Pay attention to how you feel
  5. Create habits
  6. Don’t think
  7. Don’t multitask
  8. Take breaks
  9. Change locations
  10. Bribe yourself
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