How to become a powerhouse of productivity: A guide to making long-term improvements to your routine

All of us on this crazy ride as solo business owners know we will always have more items on our to-do list than we have time available to do them. It’s just the type of people we are. Not content with the status quo, we’re always looking at new ways to help people and how to keep improving things, so our businesses survive and flourish into the future.

Alongside our new projects, there’s everything else we need to keep on top of such as client work, content creation, admin, and all sorts of marketing activities.

It isn’t surprising then, that articles on ‘game-changing productivity hacks’ get lots of clicks. And, while they generally do work well, the odd hack here and there isn’t going to bring game-changing results.

Come on. We’ve both been around long enough to know there isn’t a quick fix out there that delivers sustainable, long-term results.

We know you can’t live on salad forever, even if you do drop a few pounds in the first week.

We know that relying on caffeine might give you a shot of energy, but it doesn’t rid you of fatigue.

And we know that your ‘what shall I post about every day on socials’ headache isn’t going to go away when you buy a generic content calendar.

If you want to dramatically increase and improve your productivity, a hack isn’t going to cut it.

You need time to plan and establish a new way of working which involves trying out a variety of organisation and time management techniques to find what works best for you. You then need to embed them into your routine and follow that routine day in and day out. Getting back on it when you’ve had time off.

If you’re ready to transform your productivity, here are my best tips to help you create your new personal routine.

Part 1: Setting the foundation

Life is complicated with so many interlinking facets, so when it comes to productivity, I like to take a holistic view. I want to know what’s going on in various areas of my life that impact how I show up day to day and manage all the things I’ve got to do.

1) Recognise your daily energy levels

Are you team early bird or team night owl? 🐦🦉

You’ll likely experience a greater flow of energy at one end of the day and tuning into that natural energy allows you to strategically plan and prioritise your tasks. During your periods of high energy, it’s best to focus on high-priority, challenging tasks that demand creativity or intense concentration and reserve the routine, less demanding activities for the times when your energy naturally dips.

If you sync your work tasks to your natural energy levels, you automatically achieve more during the day and complete a balanced mix of tasks, leaving you feeling satisfied and positive about what comes tomorrow.

2) Harness the power of your menstrual cycle


They impact everything we do and the point we’re at in our cycle directly impacts our effectiveness in work. We’ve all experienced it. One day you’re flying high, storming through your to-do lists with ideas popping off here, there, and everywhere. Then a couple of days later, it’s like you’re operating in a fog, and getting even the simplest tasks done feels impossible.

Menstrual cycle coach, Natalie K. Martin, has some fantastic resources on her website, including a full breakdown of the four different phases of the menstrual cycle, and explains what’s going on with our hormones in each of them.

She argues that “instead of trying to do all the things, all of the time, allocating duties and tasks to the hormonal phase that best supports them means you do things with a lot less effort and a lot more ease”.

Check out her blog, ‘How to use your cycle for more productivity at work’, which helps you identify where you’re at in your cycle and how best to schedule your activities.

3) Nourish your soul

Forget work for a minute.

Forget mum stuff, wife stuff, daughter stuff. All your responsibilities.

What do you need as a human being?

To be your most productive self and take care of your business, your clients, your family (whatever form that takes), and everyone else who relies on you, YOU must be your number one priority.

Write down your answers to these questions:

What do you need in terms of exercise?

What do you need when it comes to food and nutrition?

What about rest, sleep, time off, and holidays?

How can you make time for fun? For friendship and hobbies?

Part 2: Planning

Planning is crucial to productivity as it transforms your vague aspirations into actionable steps. When you spend time outlining tasks, setting priorities, and establishing timelines, you’re creating a clear structure for your days and ensuring your valuable time is spent on tasks that align with your overarching goals. It also minimises the number of decisions you’ve got to make, allowing you to move more easily from one task to the next.

1) Establish clear goals

Clear goals act as a compass, guiding all your efforts, and helping you make decisions and prioritise tasks. They make it easier to focus on activities that contribute directly to your vision and avoid the distraction of less impactful tasks.

If your goals are a bit sketchy, this article will help you flesh them out.

2) Identify your priorities

When you’re stretched for time, the key to preventing overwhelm is to identify your priorities and focus on the important and impactful tasks that will deliver them.

As I said earlier, to operate at your best, you’ve got to make yourself the number one priority. So, thinking about the things you identified that YOU need, which will be your non-negotiables? Schedule them in your calendar and commit, here and now, to treat them with equal importance to the things you do for other people. That means not cancelling them because you need a bit more time for work stuff!

Now, looking at your business goals, what activities do you need to complete each day/week/month to reach your goals? It could be things like:

Posting on your social media X days a week

Connecting with X new people on your socials each week/month

Publishing one blog post every X weeks

Sending an email to your subscribers every X weeks

Attending X number of networking events every month

Schedule them into your calendar as non-negotiables.

Some other tips when it comes to scheduling:

  • Build time into your calendar each week to allow you to work on things for your business, rather than focusing solely on client work. It also gives you time to think and plan. If you can, choose the same day and time each week to help turn it into a habit.
  • Avoid scheduling appointments back-to-back and leave white space to allow for when things don’t quite go according to plan.
  • Don’t load yourself up with too many things to do each day. Everything takes longer than you expect and the worst thing for your motivation is getting to the end of each day with dozens of things incomplete. Keep your daily to-do list realistic and notice how good you feel when you get through it.
  • Check out Year Planner Calendar for free printable year planners, wall charts, and diaries, if you find it helpful to work with a hard copy.

Now you’ve got your weeks mapped out in more detail, let’s move on and look at some of my favourite productivity tools.

Part 3: Productivity tools and techniques 

1) Eat That Frog

This is a brilliantly simple idea popularised by Brian Tracy in his book of the same name and based on a quote supposedly attributed to Mark Twain, along the lines of “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning”. The idea is that the frog represents the most challenging or important task on your to-do list.

Tracy suggests that if you tackle your most difficult or significant task first, everything else in your day will feel more manageable. By eating the frog early, you prevent procrastination and set a positive tone for the day.

If you struggle to get started in the mornings, you could work up to the frog by knocking three quick and simple things off your list to build up some momentum.

2) The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is one I use ALL the time, especially when writing blog posts! It was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, and separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a Pomodoro, from the Italian word for ‘tomato’, and named after the shape of the kitchen timer that Cirillo used to measure his work intervals when he was a student.

How it works:

  • Choose a task
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes (50 minutes may be best for deep work requiring lots of concentration)
  • Work on your task – without any distractions – until the timer rings
  • Take a short break (around 5 minutes to rest and recharge)
  • Repeat the process and after four Pomodoros (or two if going for 50 minutes each time), take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.

The structured Pomodoro intervals help you keep your concentration, combat burnout, and create a sense of urgency to complete tasks efficiently.

Avoid using your phone for the timer – because it could be tempting to have a quick scroll through your socials – turn off your notifications and put your phone out of reach. Instead, use The basic timer function is free, and you can pay monthly to get more functionality like customising the length of your sprints and breaks, customisable notifications, and dark mode.

Bonus tip: Set a timer for no more than an hour when you’re brainstorming new ideas as it focuses your mind and prevents procrastination. When the timer stops, you’ve got to get the ideas into action!

The Pomofocus timer

3) Task batching

This one involves grouping similar tasks and getting them done in a specific time block. It helps you maintain focus and reduces the time and mental energy spent flitting between different activities.

Here are a couple of examples of how I use task batching:

  • Allocating time at the beginning and end of the day for checking, responding to and sorting emails, instead of responding to each new email as it arrives in my inbox.
  • Raising all new invoices, paying suppliers, and reconciling my accounts in one morning rather than doing it bit by bit over different days. This means I only need to log into Xero once, and I don’t forget to pay anyone.

4) Get some accountability

Find a business buddy to be your accountability partner. This arrangement works by agreeing to support each other in achieving specific goals, tasks, or personal development objectives. The idea is that having someone to check in with regularly to discuss progress, challenges and successes helps keep you motivated and committed.

If you’re struggling with something specific – like nailing your marketing messages, improving your processes, or getting to grips with data protection – working with a coach or mentor is an excellent solution. When you pay for help you stop wasting time figuring out what to do because you get direct access to the specialist knowledge you need for results. You also get the all-important guidance and accountability to put your new knowledge into practice.

5) Outsource

The ultimate solution to increase your productivity is to hire someone to take on the tasks you don’t have the time or the skills to do yourself. Virtual Assistants can take on a range of tasks, from scheduling social media content to keeping your inbox organised.

You could also check out the specialist support I provide in The Power Partnership.  

Online tools 

These days there’s an app to help you with absolutely anything. Some of my favourites include:

1) Trello

Trello is a project management tool that uses boards, lists and cards to help you organise and prioritise tasks. Its key features include:

  • Boards which are the top-level organisational structure where you can create different projects or initiatives.
  • Lists which are columns within a board and represent various stages or categories of tasks. Popular examples are “To-do”, “In Progress”, and “Completed”.
  • Cards are individual tasks or items within a list. They can contain detailed info, attachments, due dates, comments, and checklists.
  • Drag-and-drop which allows you to move cards between lists to reflect task progress.
  • Collaboration which allows multiple users to join a board, comment on cards, and contribute to discussions. Super useful if you work with an Associate team or VA.
  • Labels and tags that allow you to categorise and colour-code cards, making it easier to identify different types of tasks.
  • Due dates and checklists allow you to set task deadlines and break tasks down into smaller, bite-sized chunks to avoid overwhelm.

I use Trello every single day. It helps me keep on top of my to-do lists, work for clients, and future plans. I also use it to plan my social media content and blog posts. I add every idea that pops into my head, so I don’t risk losing them in notebooks or on scraps of paper.

My colour-coded blog planner on Trello

2) Freedom

The Freedom app helps you minimise distractions and focus on your work by allowing you to block distracting websites and apps. It works across all your devices and allows you to block internet distractions for as long as you want. You can even block the entire internet with the touch of a button to experience total peace whenever you need it.

While it’s really useful when you need to focus on your work, it’s also perfect for helping you switch off and wind down before going to bed.

3) Focusmate

Focusmate is a virtual co-working platform that allows you to connect in real time with others around the world for virtual co-working sessions.

Here’s how it works:

  • You schedule a session whenever you want for either 25, 50 or 75 minutes.
  • You’re matched with a co-working partner who wants to work at the same time.
  • At the start of the session, you both log onto a video call and quickly run through your goals for the session.
  • You each work on your tasks without distractions, staying on the call for accountability.
  • At the end of the call, you each give a quick progress update and celebrate your successes.

I love Focusmate as it’s an enhanced version of Pomodoro – ideal if you’re really struggling with motivation – and you can work with people all over the world, getting a brief insight into other cultures. It’s free for three sessions a week or you can upgrade for $6.99 a month to schedule unlimited sessions.

Offline tools

1)  Don’t forget the old faithfuls

Online tools are incredible but sometimes you can’t beat good old-fashioned methods, like notebooks, wall charts and Post-it notes.

When I’m writing content, my ideas always flow more freely when I’m scribbling in my notebook than sitting down at my laptop. I also like to plan out my main weekly tasks on my whiteboard. It’s the first thing I see each morning when I sit down to work, so I can see what’s scheduled for the day before even logging on.

2) Designate a separate office space

I’m lucky that I have a separate office space to leave my workstation set up all the time and close the door on my work at the end of the day, drawing a line between my work life and my home life.

If you have the space, I highly recommend you set up a separate office or look to rent a room if you don’t already have one.

3) Change location to shake things up

If things are feeling a bit stale, why not try working somewhere new? You could try a co-working space, a library, a coffee shop, or even a hotel lobby. Don’t use public wi-fi networks though as they’re not secure. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) instead. NordVPN is my go-to and starts at £2.79 a month.

When the weather is good, I’ll often grab my notebook and wander down to the local park to draft content. A change of scenery works wonders for creativity.

So, you’ve looked at your energy levels, set your goals, prioritised your most important and impactful tasks, scheduled your non-negotiables, taken some time to experiment with productivity tools and techniques, and selected those that work best for you.

The final thing, which people often skip over:

Part 4: Reviewing and tweaking your routine

Set time aside every month or couple of months to review how things are going. Set reminders in your calendar now so you don’t forget.

Use your review time to identify patterns and trends – times of peak productivity, common distractions, and recurring challenges – so you can tweak your routine for better efficiency. Assess how you’re progressing towards your goals and make any adjustments needed. Learn from your successes and mistakes and apply them to future tasks and projects, and recognise your achievements, celebrating the small victories and the big ones.

Regular productivity reviews help you continuously refine your approach to work and life, making it easier and happier as you go along.


I get frustrated when people sell quick fixes to our business challenges.

Ads screaming that you’ll never struggle for content ideas again if you buy their templates for $27, make me angry.

No matter the area, quick fixes don’t deliver big, sustainable results. They’re just temporary sticking plasters.

If you want to make lasting improvements to your productivity, you need to go beyond the surface-level hacks and make a proper plan. You need to recognise your challenges and experiment with new tools and techniques to find what helps you. Then, you need to embed them into your daily routine and commit to regularly reviewing your progress and fine-tuning the process.

Action points

  1. Use the ideas and questions in Part 1 to establish your peak energy times and identify the things you need to function at your best.

  2. Follow the steps in Part 2 to create a general plan for the weeks and months ahead, taking account of your varying energy levels throughout.

  3. Explore the tools and techniques in Part 3. Feel free to look at others, too. There are loads of other options. Select those that work best for you, then build them into your plan.

  4. Schedule recurring appointments in your diary so you take time to review and tweak your process regularly.

Whenever you’re ready, there are various ways I can help you in your business journey. It doesn’t matter whether you’re brand new or have been going for years. Check out how you can work with me here:


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