Being productive all day is difficult.

When you have a gap between clients, sometimes you want to relax and take a breath, but there’s always so much to do.

Between cleaning up, appointments, ordering supplies, promoting your business on social media, and the dozens of other tasks that fill up your free time as a small business owner, sometimes you have to power through and work even when you don’t have a client so you can go home at the end of the day without a long to-do list.

So how do you stay productive when all you want to do is procrastinate?

Luckily there are some proven productivity principles that can help you get stuff done even when you don’t feel like it, so you don’t have to work in your free time to get caught up.

  1. Schedule Everything In

You know how important your schedule is for booking clients. But your schedule serves double-duty, too.

When it comes to those gaps between clients, don’t just leave them blank on your schedule. That’s a short path to procrastination.

Instead, fill those gaps up with things that you need to get done before the end of the day. For example, let’s say you have half an hour between clients and a stack of paperwork you need to file.

Schedule the filing into that half an hour gap. Give yourself more than enough time to complete the task, but make sure that it’s on the schedule.

Everything should be scheduled during your day – including your breaks – so you can maximize the time you have in the day and the impact you can make on your to-do list.

  1. Procrastinate

This might sound silly to you. Procrastinate as a means of increasing productivity?

But we’re actually more productive when we allow ourselves a breather. There is science which shows that we are most productive when we take breaks every 52 minutes.

You might not be able to take a break every 52 minutes – what if a client appointment goes for 65? – but you can take breaks between each activity, even if they are short ones.

Spend five minutes breathing, drinking a glass of water, stretching or even just going for a walk in your neighborhood.

Call somebody you’ve been meaning to talk to for a quick ten-minute break before your next client or before you start filing those papers.

Taking the time to take breaks and, yes, procrastinate a bit will help you focus better when you have to be focused and will make you more productive when necessary.

Make sure you don’t procrastinate taking your breaks by scheduling them in!

  1. Work Key Tasks Into Your Routine

The most productive people don’t rely on motivation or energy to get important tasks done. They build habits and routines around those tasks so they get them done on autopilot.

What can you build into your routine? Here are a few things to look for when considering which tasks you can routinize:

  • Which tasks do you have to do daily? Also consider whether there are any tasks that you don’t do daily, but could. For instance, if you balance your cash register at the end of the week, could you chunk that task out into a daily effort?
  • Which take half an hour or less to complete? Big tasks that take more than half an hour to finish can become daunting. When you feel overwhelmed, it’s difficult to make a routine out of anything.
  • Are there any tasks you can do first thing that will make the rest of your day run more smoothly? For example, tidying your workspace every day before you begin working in it can clear your mind, help you become more productive, and even save you time.

Working a few key tasks into your morning routine will take them off of your mind for the rest of the day, helping you become more productive in the absence of switching your focus.

There are dozens of ways you can become more productive with your business, but scheduling, taking breaks, and building habits around some of the key tasks in your business are all proven to increase your productivity and beat procrastination.

So get out there and test these tactics. Don’t be afraid adapt them to work for you.

Your to-do list will thank you!