The Productivity Guide: Tips on how to be more productive in 2024

 In Inspiration

Independent Oxford celebrates the spirit of local entrepreneurship and the hard work and dedication of the people and families behind the brilliant businesses that bring individuality to our streets and communities. Small businesses play a crucial role in the UK’s vibrant economy, and maximising productivity is key to their success. In this blog post, Indie Oxford members from across Oxfordshire share practical and actionable productivity tips and productivity hacks to help you enhance your productivity in 2024.

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My biggest tip is to manage your energy, not just your time. Everyone naturally has ebbs and flows in their work processes or in how well they can focus, so the trick is to work with those rather than against them. Use the times when you feel most energized to do more complex or creative work, or tasks that require more thinking, and plan more menial tasks for the times of the day when you feel more drained. I try to block out my diary for bigger ‘thinking’ or strategic tasks in the morning, with incentives like good coffee, and then reply to emails in the afternoon when I’m less productive. I can get more into the flow in the evening too, so use that time to plan work and get organised too. I’ve used tools like the Pomodoro technique in the past, which is great for time-blocking and giving you short bursts of focused time, but working to my natural rhythms has been the biggest productivity gain for me overall.

Sarah Jordan, owner at Y.O.U Underwear

You Underwear Oxford
The Cattleshed Candle Co

The tip that I feel helps boosts my productivity is to get out in the fresh air. Even for just 10 minutes. I’m lucky enough to own a Donkey, Jess, and a walk down and a ‘chat’ with her really clears my head and helps me focus on productivity when back at the candle studio!

Jen Walker at The Cattleshed Candle Co.

Tip 1: I make my to-do list the night before so that in the morning I can focus straight away on what needs to be done, rather than spending the first part of the day working out what my priorities should be.

Tip 2: I often use an app blocker which prevents me accessing certain apps and receiving notifications from them during work time, as I’m terrible at getting distracted! I use one called Opal, it’s free and you can take breaks if you REALLY need to look at Instagram (guilty).

Sally-Anne Stewart Printmaker

Sally Anne Stewart Lino Print Oxford
Liz Corley Art Oxford

Avoid multitasking. As an artist and small business owner there are always so many tasks to complete that vary greatly and my list of tasks is always full. Splitting my time and attention means that I end up with many half-finished jobs so avoiding multitasking is vital. Organise your time so your focus is on one task only, this way you will give it your all and are more likely to be successful.

Liz Corley at Liz Corley Art

Make time for rest This might seem counterintuitive – if you’re relaxing then you’re not being productive, right? But taking regular breaks is key to maintaining productivity in the long-term. We are human beings, not machines, and if we don’t take time to rest, eventually our body will force us to. Although it might feel like you’re doing ‘nothing’, rest has so many benefits to your mind and body. From boosting creativity and concentration, to improving mood and problem-solving skills – rest actually makes you more productive! If you find relaxation challenging, experiment and see what feels good for you. What you find relaxing may be different to what someone else does. And remember that relaxation doesn’t have to be time consuming. Try incorporating mini opportunities to reset into your day, such as doing 5 minutes calming breathwork.

Amy Townsend at Therapy with Amy

Therapy with Amy Oxford
Shortland and Hall Interior Designers

At the end of the day we like making a list of everything that needs to be done on the following day. On Fridays we do a round up ahead of the next week. Simple to do and it helps us switch off in the evening.

Sabrina Shortland at Shortland and Hall

I think one of the best ways to get things done is to spend a bit of time thinking about what you really need to do first. Often, I launch into work only to find I’ve been busy but haven’t really made any progress – which is known as productive procrastination. Once I know what I really need to do, one of my favourite ways to get work done is to remove distractions and set a timer, for either 25 or 50 minutes, followed by a short break, and then repeating. I also love going for a walk when I need to chew over problems, I often find I come up with the best ideas in the middle of a dog walk.

Annabel Lee at Annabel Lee Communications

Annabel Lee
Merderi Oxfordshire Hannah sq

Don’t say yes to things you don’t want to do. It’s so important to say YES to the things that you want to do.

Hannah Ireson at Mederi Wellness

Next time you’re struggling to get into a task, try setting a timer for 5 minutes and use that time to work on the task. By the end of the 5 minutes you may now find yourself engrossed in the task. If not, take a short break e.g. make a cup of tea, and give your brain a chance to decide the next step in tackling this task.

Louisa Daubney at Louisa Daubney Coaching

Louisa Daubney Oxford
Nicola Swift

The brain dump! I am often juggling a lot of projects (who isn’t!?) and when my own thoughts are stopping me from getting on with what I need to, I get it all out of my head and onto paper so I can physically park the noise but not lose any useful thoughts. I also love a “power half hour” – designated time to clear some teensy, sometimes annoying little tasks that take just a few minutes each.

Nicola Swift

There are so many great tips here to help with time management and just simply getting thing done in 2024. A couple of extra ideas I find really useful are:


Start by prioritising tasks using techniques like the Eisenhower Matrix. Identify urgent and important tasks, allowing you to allocate your time and resources efficiently.

Embrace tech

From project management apps like Trello and Asana (I personally love Asana!) to communication tools like Slack, integrating technology can streamline processes and enhance collaboration. I also use Google Calender to diarise everything, and Calendly for Indie Oxford members to book in meetings to try and steam line appointments so as not to waste time going back and forth in emails trying to find dates, times and venues. There are also lots of really useful sites like Canva to help you create great content for social media if that is something you would like to prioritise this year.


If you can afford to employ someone to help with important long-term tasks, or specific work that is outside of your skill set (like accounting!) it’s worth delegating those tasks. If you’re not sure whether it’s worth it think about the time you would spend on it and what you could do with that time from your priorities list.


Set clear boundaries and parameters for your work so any customers, co-workers or collaborators know what to expect. This could include days and times you work, the best way to contact you or a clear spec for a project so you don’t get scope creep!

Set Realistic Goals

Before you think about day-to-day tasks and to do lists, the first thing it’s worth taking time to do is to review the past year so you can work out your overarching goals and how you will measure them for the year ahead. Defining realistic and achievable goals for your business or work means you’ll have a clearer idea of priorities and will be less likely to get distracted and sidelined by other people’s successes and achievements. From your year goals, you can then break them down into smaller, manageable tasks and tasks first on your to do list which will help to create a roadmap for success. It’s important to celebrate small victories along the way to maintain motivation so make sure you check in each month to see what you’ve achieved and areas you need to work on. A really good way to keep on top of this is to find a group or individual you can share your activities and goals with. Indie Oxford meet ups are a great place to share your wins and challenges with like-minded people and helps to keep you on track.

Stay informed

Keep yourself informed about industry trends, innovations, and news from your area. For example, could using AI help you to be more productive? It might just be the one thing that helps you get things done, making sure you’re staying productive and enable to focus your energy on the things matter most. Or is there a new event or opportunity to showcase your business locally that supports your long-term business goals?


Boosting productivity is an ongoing journey and I love Sarah’s idea of working with your natural energy ebbs and flows. Hopefully these tips will help you to find clarity, productivity and space to focus on the goals you really want to achieve this year.

Independent Oxford is here to support indie businesses in Oxfordshire, and we hope these insights help you to the grow and succeed in your work this year. Here’s to a productive future!

If you are interested in joining Indie Oxford, please contact me at Benefits include; monthly meet ups, a page on the Independent Oxford website, access to the Indie Oxford WhatsApp group and being part of a community based movement to strengthen the local economy.

About the indies in this blog

Y.O.U Underwear 

Y.O.U Underwear is a pioneering social enterprise based in Oxford on a mission to redefine the way you experience comfort, style, and social impact. Crafted from luxuriously soft GOTS-Certified Organic and Fairtrade cotton, its range includes underwear for men, women, and girls – a collection that not only makes you look and feel good but also allows you to do good for the world.

At Y.O.U Underwear, sustainability is more than a buzzword; it’s a commitment. Its products are PETA-approved vegan, ensuring ethical and cruelty-free practices. As the highest-scoring B Corp in the UK, Y.O.U Underwear exemplifies a dedication to placing purpose above profit, prioritizing the well-being of both people and the planet.

What truly sets Y.O.U Underwear apart is their buy-one-give-two promise. For every pair you purchase, Sarah and the team donate two pairs, actively contributing to positive change in the world. Find out more here.

The Cattleshed Candle Co.

Discover The Cattleshed Candle Company, an artisan home fragrance indie business nestled in the heart of Oxfordshire. Jen’s passion lies in hand-pouring exquisite milk churn candles, creating delightful scents that elevate the ambiance of your home. Crafted with care, Jen uses sustainable soy wax, cotton wicks, and premium fragrance oils for a truly enchanting experience.

As a quintessential country lifestyle brand, The Cattleshed Candle Company seamlessly blends rustic charm with sleek sophistication. The candle churns complement a variety of homes, from beautiful old farmhouses and cottages to perfectly modern abodes. Founder Jen invites you to embrace sustainability by refilling your churns. Alternatively, unleash your creativity by repurposing them into mini planters, pen pots and more.

Discover the essence of artisanal home fragrances with The Cattleshed Candle Company, where each creation tells a story of craftsmanship and sustainability. Find out more here.

Sally-Anne Stewart Printmaker

Sally-Anne Stewart is a passionate printmaker based in east Oxford. Specialising primarily in linocut, Sally-Anne draws inspiration from both the serenity of nature and the dynamic urban environment. Her artistic repertoire spans a diverse range, encompassing animals, plants, and the iconic Oxford colleges.

With a keen eye for detail and a love for vibrant hues, Sally-Anne produces an array of single- and multi-colour prints. Her artistry thrives on the ability to transform subjects using bold lines and rich colors, showcasing the versatile nature of printmaking that can be both spontaneous and intricately detailed.

Beyond her artistry, Sally-Anne is dedicated to sharing her craft with the community. Regularly hosting linocut workshops in Oxford, she creates a space for enthusiasts to explore their creativity. Stay updated on her upcoming classes by following her on Instagram, where the magic of linocut comes to life. Find out more here.

Liz Corley Art 

Drawing inspiration from the enchanting landscapes of the Cotswolds and the British Countryside, artist Liz Corley infuses her creations with the beauty of nature. Crafting original artwork and homeware products, Liz’s portfolio showcases a delightful array of subjects – from bumble bees to hares – capturing the essence of the British Countryside and bringing a touch of the outdoors into homes.

Liz’s artistic flair extends to original wood art, where she breathes new life into reclaimed wood, culminating in pieces finished with environmentally friendly varnish. Whether adorning the garden or brightening up a conservatory or sunroom, these unique creations seamlessly blend artistry with sustainability.

Beyond her curated collection, Liz welcomes commissions, with pet and animal portraits standing out as particular favorites. Liz Corley, an Oxfordshire-based artist, invites you to explore her world where nature comes alive in every stroke and reclaimed wood finds a second chance to tell a story. Find out more here.

Therapy with Amy

Amy helps sensitive individuals to embark on a transformative journey to overcome stress, anxiety, and panic, discovering their inner calm.

Amy, a trained Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist, possesses the expertise to guide you towards your emotional wellbeing goals. Her integrative therapeutic approach, grounded in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), evidence-based hypnotherapy, and mindfulness, ensures a holistic and effective healing process. With online sessions available, support is accessible throughout the UK, right from the comfort of your own home.

In Amy’s nurturing space, you’ll explore your feelings and acquire tools for more effective coping. Her goal is to empower you to develop the skills necessary for self-help, eliminating reliance on long-term therapy. Upon completing therapy, you’ll be confident to use a toolbox of resources, fostering a sense of calm, contentment, and confidence in your life.

Amy extends a complimentary 15-minute chat to those contemplating therapy, ensuring the right fit for you. Begin your journey with Therapy with Amy and unlock the potential for lasting positive change. Find out more.

Shortland and Hall

Discover a transformative approach to interior design with Shortland and Hall in Oxford. Sabrina and Jo curate design packages that go beyond aesthetics, fostering lasting and beneficial changes to your lifestyle. Engage in conversations tailored to your preferences, explore inspiring design ideas, and receive comprehensive buying lists – all geared towards bringing ease and clarity to your redecorating journey.

Working with Shortland and Hall means more than just a design service. It’s an empowering experience that helps you overcome decision fatigue, take impactful action, and build momentum towards creating a space that truly reflects your style and needs. Beyond their commitment to your project, they extend trade benefits and a passion for supporting local makers and creatives, maintaining a cherished list of recommended trades.

Ready to step off the Pinterest merry-go-round? If you’re serious about crafting an inspiring, authentic space that feels like home, drop Sabrina and Jo an email. Shortland and Hall are here to turn your vision into reality and elevate your living experience. Find out more here.

Annabel Lee Communications

Annabel Lee Communications offers bespoke communications and specialises in providing expert copy-writing and PR support exclusively tailored for creative and purpose-driven businesses. Founded by Annabel Lee, a seasoned PR professional and freelance writer with over 15 years of experience, Annabel Lee Communications is dedicated to assisting small and burgeoning businesses in crafting and communicating compelling stories about their enterprises.

Annabel offers a comprehensive range of services, including adept copywriting, PR project management, event coordination, and consultancy hours. Whether you’re seeking to refine your brand narrative or promote a purpose-driven initiative, Annabel Lee Communications is here to elevate your business through strategic communication solutions. Find out more.

Mederi Wellness

Mederi Wellness Centre is your sanctuary for complete relaxation in Garsington, Oxfordshire. Immerse yourself in the ultimate wellness experience with state-of-the-art float pods, rejuvenating infrared saunas, and the luxurious anti-gravity massage chair.

Escape the hustle and bustle of daily life as you float effortlessly in the advanced float pods, providing a serene and weightless experience. Let the warmth of the infrared saunas melt away tension, promoting detoxification and deep relaxation. The incredible anti-gravity massage chair offers a unique and soothing massage experience, like no massage chair you have seen before!

At Mederi Wellness Centre, Hannah and the team believe that taking time for yourself should be easy. Discover unparalleled tranquility and rejuvenate your mind and body with cutting-edge wellness technologies. Elevate your well-being and experience relaxation like never before. Find out more here.

Louisa Daubney Coaching

Meet Louisa Daubney, your go-to personal performance coach and time management enthusiast based in Oxford. With a passion for helping women solopreneurs navigate the challenge of structuring their days to include both personal time and creative space, Louisa is here to guide you through the journey, even if you’ve left the 9-5 grind behind.

Having dedicated considerable time to revamping her own approach to time management for enhanced focus and flow, Louisa is thrilled to merge this expertise with her coaching skills. Her mission is to assist clients in cultivating a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling relationship with time.

If you find yourself running your own business, grappling with time management frustrations, and ending your workday feeling frazzled instead of fulfilled, Louisa Daubney is your trusted wing woman. It’s time to step back from your busy life and embark on a transformative journey toward a more balanced and fulfilling professional life. Find out more here.

Nicola Swift

Nicola Swift is an accomplished professional specialising in brand, NPD, and marketing, with a focus on elevating retail and hospitality businesses. With expertise in brand strategy, encompassing the visual and verbal identity of your business, Nicola excels in product and packaging development and provides invaluable strategic support for small business owners. She also serves as a fractional head of marketing, seamlessly managing day-to-day operations of digital and local marketing campaigns.

Nicola brings a wealth of experience from prominent in-house roles, including Creative Food Director at the renowned Ginger Pig butchery, Head of Retail at Dishoom restaurants, and Product Developer at Marks & Spencer. As a freelancer, Nicola collaborates with esteemed clients such as Harvey Nichols, Lina Stores, Pompette restaurant, Spice Kitchen, Farmison, and Sous Chef.

With Nicola Swift, your business gains access to a seasoned professional with a rich background and a proven track record of success in enhancing brand strategies and driving growth. Find out more.

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