Because unrealistic expectations are not what you or your business needs
In this post, I’ll show you 5 simple steps to make your productivity expectations achievable so that you can kick those business goals.
Know your true availability
To get control of your productivity, you need to know your true availability.
How many hours do you have to work each week? Can you answer that question off the top of your head, or do you need to think about it? (Being able to answer it without missing a beat is the first step in getting control of your productivity expectations).
If you’re someone who aims to work a traditional full-time week, you might say you have 40 hours up your sleeve, right?
First, you need to find out if 40 hours is your true availability.
True availability is the amount of time you’re *really* available to work.
This could be the time when you’re:
- at your desk
- available for phone calls
- working on emails
- taking client meetings
Or when you’re completing other tasks you need to do when you’re working in or *ON* your business (more on that in a moment).
So back to those 40 hours…
Does anything else eat into the 40 work hours you *think* you have? Do you need to allow time for non-work tasks like picking up the kids? Or running personal errands? Or even taking a proper lunch break (which you should definitely do to improve your productivity… ).
If you throw in just a few non-work tasks, your 40-hour work week becomes more like a 30-hour work week. Yet, in your head, you’re still *expecting* yourself to deliver 40 hours of productive time.
Can you see the problem here?
If you don’t know your true availability, you’re setting yourself up to fail because of unrealistic productivity expectations.
Consider all the factors that impact your productivity.
When working out your true availability, you need to consider all the factors that impact your time.
Let’s say you’ve already factored in those personal tasks mentioned above, so you know your 40 hours is actually 30 hours this week.
But what about the other things that could impact your productive time? What about that client meeting or networking event? Have you considered the travel time, not just the time to attend? And what about having a buffer built in for those unexpected (but inevitable) interruptions (like a kid getting sick)?
While running your own business is great (because you don’t have to be tied to the old 9 to 5), it can be tempting to think it means you can work whenever you want. And that’s a slippery slope to wasting time rather than making it productive. (Because you can always do it later tonight. Or on the weekend, right?… But do you?)
Productivity isn’t only about knowing how many hours you have available each week. It’s about knowing *WHEN* you have those hours and *WHAT* you’re going to do with them. So considering all the factors that impact your time is a vital step in effective productivity planning.
Plan your week and block out time
I’m a huge believer in using a calendar to block out the time you need to complete tasks – both for your client work and for working *on* your business. Blocking time and planning each week around the tasks and activities you need to complete keeps you focused and helps you avoid distractions.
A great way to block your time and track your true availability is to assign due dates to every task you enter into your preferred project management (PM) tool, like Asana or ClickUp. When you assign due dates, your PM tool’s calendar view will show you what’s coming up each week so you can plan and block your time based on the reality of what work you have to complete.
And because you know your true availability, it’s much easier to plan your week realistically. Including leaving a little buffer room for when those inevitable *life* things come up.
Put things into perspective
By now, you should have a better perspective on your productivity expectations and how to match them with your day-to-day reality.
With this new perspective, you won’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others because your new expectations are based on *your* reality – not theirs.
And that overwhelm you felt at seeming never to be able to achieve it all? Say bye-bye to that stress (#SeeYa)! You won’t be planning to fail anymore. Because instead of a list of unattainable goals, your new way of productivity planning is all about what’s realistic and achievable for you.
With your productivity planning on a realistic track, it’s essential to review and refine continually.
Using a tool like Toggl or a tracking tool built into your project management software is the easiest ways to track your time.
And assessing how you went with your productivity goals at the end of every week gives you a chance to reflect on how things are going (and where things might need to change).
When you review often, you’ll notice patterns in your day-to-day activities and spot trends in your workload to help you plan ahead. You’ll also get to know when you need to put boundaries in place or say no to activities that take up your time without adding any productivity value.
Your new (and reasonable) productivity expectations
I hope this blog post has helped you set more reasonable productivity expectations that match your business reality.
So there’s no more getting down on yourself because you think you had an unproductive week. Now you can cut yourself a little slack and move forward with achievable productivity expectations.
Need more help setting realistic productivity expectations?
I offer expert advice and tailored productivity planning to help you work more efficiently and say goodbye to overwhelm.
Whether you need a productivity power session to get you going or a fully tailored Business Productivity Plan and expert support, I’m here for you.