If you run a health practice, chances are that you’re typically exhausted at the end of a day, while feeling that you haven’t made enough progress toward what’s important. Seeing clients while running the practice at the same time is a lot to manage!
“Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound and turn into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them”.James Clear
Imagine how good you’d feel after making a significant dent in your list of priorities every day. You may also sleep better at night, feel less anxiety at work, free up time to exercise, and so the upward spiral continues!
We’ve rounded up seven simple, but super-effective productivity hacks to implement right now. They’ll take you from overwhelmed to in control and help you make progress toward your biggest goals.
Hack #1: Get a Clear Vision of Improvements You Want to Make in Your Practice
Write down a statement of how you want your practice to feel or a few projects you want to make progress on in the next few months. This may mean accepting that you can’t do everything you’d like to do! But this is an essential step. Decreasing the scope of what you’re trying to do will help you achieve more.
Hack #2: Create a Habit of Planning Your Day
Carve out a small window of time to plan each day – block out time for this task on your calendar! If you’re seeing clients most of the day, block out times when you’ll work on your Power List (more on this in a moment). After all, if you want to get things done, you need the time to do them.
Also, block out regular times for things you need to do often. For instance, if you always feel behind with client notes, block out an hour a day to catch up. Or if the office admin is piling up, block out 2 half-hour slots a week to stay on top of it.
Hack #3: Use a Daily Power List
A daily Power List is one of the most effective ways to ensure you spend your energy on the most important things. It’s different from a to-do list because it only includes what you plan to do that day.
This list should include 3 tasks at most, each of which should take less than 30 minutes. That might not seem like a lot, but remember Hofstadter’s law: it always takes longer than you expect (and, unsurprisingly, this holds true even when you take Hofstadter’s Law into account). Many great leaders and productivity thinkers recommend a version of the power list as their prioritisation tool of choice.
Create your Power List by working off your to-do list. A to-do list is a big-picture list of what you want to do in time. Consider your goals for the practice, and then review your to-do list to help you decide on a few daily actions. Don’t overcomplicate it; make sure that you’ve selected the things that are most important and that you can commit to focusing on them at the exclusion of other things.
When writing your list, use verbs to describe each item as an executable action. For instance, update your online form templates, create designs for upcoming advertisements, and so on.
Hack #4: Commit to Focusing for Just 45 minutes
Being productive is about having the discipline and techniques to get yourself to spend a relatively small chunk of time each day focused on those high-priority actions. But make no mistake – spending even a few hours a day intensely focused is HARD WORK! Our psychology is wired to look for other things to do when the going gets tough. You might find yourself rearranging your office instead of writing a client report.
That’s why it’s a great idea to commit to doing focused work on your top priorities for only 45 minutes at a time. This requires you to work through the inner resistance you experience when your brain sees the challenge associated with your most important tasks. For example, you may be unsure of how to start, have conflicting ideas about something, or need to complete a seemingly insurmountable volume of work. But don’t allow feelings of discomfort to derail you. After all, the 45 minutes will be over before you know it!
Hack #5: Remove Distractions
Even when you get into focus mode, many potential distractions are ready to pull your attention away. Email and social media notifications on your phone will distract you from your work, co-workers are facing their own procrastination demons, have questions or are ready for a chat, not to mention the rabbit hole you may find yourself falling down when you use the internet to help you get through a task.
So, if you want to be more productive, here are some techniques for reducing distractions and procrastination:
- Scheduling: take the step of putting your tasks into your calendar.
- Streaks: if there’s something you want to do every day, create a visual representation of which days you’ve done that thing. Jerry Seinfeld used this method to write a joke a day which he called “don’t break the chain“. You can use your calendar for this too.
- Silence alerts: when doing important work, put your phone on “do not disturb” mode, and only keep the internet tabs that are critical to your work open.
- Time tracking: some people find it helpful to see precisely how they spend their time. Also, recording how you spend your time can help keep you more focused. What gets measured gets managed!
Hack #6: Aim for 80% Quality
Most of us have a problem when it comes to aiming for perfection. Yes, striving to do our best sounds like a noble trait, but we must understand that doing our best is usually not the most productive use of our time.
You’ve probably heard of the 80:20 rule. It can apply to many scenarios, but 20% of your efforts usually get you 80% of the results. This means that to get the extra 20% to bring your results up to 100%, you need to put in 80% more effort— 4 times the amount of effort you’ve put in to get to the first 80%. Of course, the numbers will vary depending on the situation, but you get the idea.
In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to strive for 100% quality.
This is especially true if it’s the first take on a new project, an internal document, or your first draft. Aim for 80% quality initially, then see if you want to polish it more once you’ve had time away from the project.
Hack #7: Build in Consequences
There are two ways to build in consequences for your actions: you can use either the carrot or the stick!
Set Yourself a Reward
The carrot approach is to set yourself a reward for getting that most important task done. Maybe you say that you’ll get dinner, have a bubble bath, call a good friend, or give yourself some time to work on a fun project.
Or the stick; you don’t go out for lunch, or you can only get a second coffee once you finish that task!
The other side of this is accountability. Working together in teams naturally creates responsibility, which leads to positive peer pressure that helps us get things done.
If you don’t have a manager breathing down your neck, you can create this accountability yourself. Try telling a colleague or peer that you’ll have something to show them by the end of the day. Or email a client to tell them you’re working on their project and will have it to them by a specific time.
It sounds simple, but for most people, accountability is very effective.
When you use all seven of these hacks together, you’ll do several small but important things daily, and the results will quickly stack up. Day after day, you’ll chip away at those big goals – and that consistency will make all the difference.
What’s more, you’ll feel accomplished and satisfied, giving you more momentum to keep making progress. You’ll develop habits that become more powerful the more you practice them!