Whether you’re a solopreneur or the leader of a team, productivity is one of the must-have elements of a successful business. But unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are quick to sacrifice their physical and mental wellbeing in an effort to be “productive.”
The reality, however, is that sustained efficiency relies on intentional rest and the ability to balance one’s work responsibilities with the pleasures of one’s personal life. This catch-22 has become especially apparent as the pandemic pushed industry professionals to adjust to a work-from-home lifestyle.
While comfortable on its face, working from home often blurs the lines between one’s business and personal time. Eventually, such a lack of boundaries can lead to burnout—which is ultimately counterproductive to both sides of the equation.
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And in an industry that can be demanding on our time and our emotions, it’s vital to manage one’s productivity in a way that doesn’t involve burning the candle at both ends.
We asked event professionals for their top tips for working smarter—not harder—and here’s what they had to say.
Treat your workspace like a real office.
When laundry piles up and the dog is begging to play, it’s natural for your attention to be pulled away from work. There will always be demands for your time, but establishing “office hours” will help set boundaries, as My Wedding Songs’ Matt Campbell suggests: “Even though you work from home doesn't mean you shouldn’t clock in and out.”
Campbell adds: “Utilizing a time clock app, like Toggl, will allow you to set boundaries of when you are working and not working. Clocking in and out for lunch and for the day is key in guiding you and your family when you can be disturbed. Plus, clocking out lets your mind know that you don’t have to be working on your business all of the time.”
Practice block scheduling.
How much time you work each day greatly depends on how you use your time. If effective time management feels unattainable, Nora Sheils (see her live during Catersource + The Special Event) of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss recommends blocking your schedule: “It's amazing how efficient and productive you can be when you set yourself up for success. Blocking out chunks of time to manage tasks (especially those you aren't super excited about, or those you spend too much time on) can make all the difference.”
Sheils continues: “If you know you only have an hour to spend on email, you are going to be quick and efficient and avoid all distractions. The same goes with social media, if you have set times to scroll, it will not be a distraction from another task that is likely more important.”
Rethink your weekly structure.
If every day feels like the same mess of “too many distractions, not enough time,” it may be time to reconsider the way your week looks. The Restart Specialist, Meredith Ryncarz (see her live during Catersource + The Special Event), shares her preferred method of “calendar stacking,” explaining: “What we found was that by having all of our phone calls on two days of the week and dedicating one other day for networking and client meetings, we were able to have two days of the week free to catch up on work and strategize.”
In a way, Ryncarz’s strategy is a matter of adapting block scheduling on a macro level—and it has brought her great success. “These “boundaries” give me time to work on different parts of my business each day and I am not running around without a direction. The more intent and purpose you put into your schedule, the more time you will have for your business,” she affirms.
Allow yourself to take a break.
All work and no play…well, you know what they say. Contrary to popular belief, stepping away from the computer throughout the day can do wonders for productivity, so it may be time to do less so you can accomplish more.
That’s been the secret of success for Bubbles & Bowties’ Juls Sharpley, who shares: “At least once a day, I get outside and take a break for my mental health: go for a walk, work in the garden, hike, bike, etc. It can be daunting to sit in the same space all day and then spend all evening there as well. Or sometimes, I just stop and do something that makes me happy (like cleaning or tidying up an area of my house always makes me feel better).”
Embrace the power of brain dumps.
When your mind feels too busy, it’s hard to give your best self to work or personal responsibilities. So take a note from Lizzy Liz Events’ Lizzy Liz’s book and write it all down to let go of the noise!
She explains: “I've found myself writing everything down and creating checklists. If at the end of the day I don't get to it, then I brain dump everything I need to do tomorrow, so I don't think about it before bed and not have a good night's sleep.”
You deserve it! But really, a bit of positive self-talk and reflection on your big wins can go a long way in revitalizing your energy and boosting your motivation.
Jaclyn Watson (see her live during Catersource + The Special Event) of Jaclyn Watson Events shares a message for those feeling stuck: “If you're feeling unmotivated or uninspired, one of the most important things you can do to get yourself out of that slump is to celebrate your wins! No matter how small or big, there are always wins with each day.”
Get out of your comfort zone (literally).
Whether you’re working from home or in an office, it can take a change of scenery to find fresh perspectives. That’s what has worked for Jennifer Sulak of Weirdo Weddings, who shared her routine: “If I'm feeling unmotivated or uninspired, I typically change my atmosphere. I will get up from where I'm at and move around in my home or LEAVE my home altogether to get a change of scenery.”
Sulak adds: “When the weather is really good, I can head outside and walk barefoot and stay grounded by feeling the textures under my feet and taking time to be away from all technology really rejuvenates my heart & mind.”
Lean on your support system.
It’s common for entrepreneurs to feel like they’re the only ones ever to feel low, unmotivated, or burnt out. But, in reality, most of us can relate to those feelings as we’ve all found ourselves navigating difficult situations!
That’s why The Soulful Wedding’s Maureen Cotton encourages industry pros to connect with friends and “friendors” for support, suggesting: “Reach out and you’ll remember that you’re not alone. You’ll get to see yourself through the admiration or appreciation of another. You’ll get to laugh. You’ll get to say, “me too,” about so many struggles in our industry and pandemic-weary life.”
Set your intentions on giving.
Human beings are natural givers. We get fulfillment when we help others, so a kind gesture can sometimes make all the difference in how you feel. Consider volunteering, donating, giving compliments, or supporting fellow small businesses as Wedding Venue Map’s Shannon Tarrant does.
“I really like giving back to other small businesses when I'm not motivated,” Tarrant says. “For example, during a rough week, I'll start the day by going onto Google and finding 3 small businesses I've visited that month and write a great review about their services. I know how much reviews mean as a small business myself, and writing the review not only helps their business but gets me sitting at a computer and ready to start the day!”
So there you have it—nine proven techniques to find a happy balance between productivity, rest, and self-care because they all go hand-in-hand to push your business forward while keeping you grounded.