Productivity Tips for Small Business Owners
Most small-business owners, especially mums in business, are time-poor.
There are a finite number of hours in the day to work – or that you want to be working – yet not every minute is equal.
This isn’t an article on time management, because we have no or little control of what time is available to us.
It is an article about how to make the best use of the time we do have.
Here are our 5 Keys to being more productive in your business.
1. Know what time of day you work best
I’m a morning person. I know if I attack my most difficult or important tasks first up in the day, I get more done.
I also know I hit a major slump in energy from around 2-4pm.
If I have to work in my low energy period I will carry out tasks that don’t require much strategy or brain power. For me these are administrative tasks and checking and responding to emails. This way I’m still making good use of my time and I’m less likely to be distracted from my important tasks in the morning.
What time(s) of day or night, do you have the most and least energy? Tackle important tasks during high energy times and less important and easy tasks in low energy times.
2. Have a To Do List
It’s pretty hard to get stuff done and stay focused if you don’t have a plan for the day.
Create your To Do List for the week and each day and make note of your most important tasks – the ones that will help grow your business or profit or are urgent – and then add other tasks you would like to get done. List them in order of priority.
Do however make your list of ‘must get done today’ tasks manageable. There’s no greater feeling (well at least there isn’t for me) than ticking off what I have completed. On the flip side, it’s pretty darn depressing when you haven’t even made a dent in your to do list.
3. Batch and chunk
Once you have a to do list try and batch together like tasks, for example, phone calls you have to make, content you need to write.
This is akin to mono-tasking, the much cleverer cousin of multi-tasking. It means your brain only has to focus on one type of activity at a time, which makes your more efficient. Having to switch between tasks (multi-tasking) means the brain has to constantly switch and work harder to adjust to the new task.
You should also try and set aside realistic chunks of time for each activity. A chunk may be 45 minutes or less, but no more than 90 minutes as this is too hard on your brain and body. After each time chunk, take a short break. Get up out of your chair, stretch, get a cup of coffee – this helps manage your energy and keeps you motivated. Put on a timer for each activity and when the time is up it’s a good strategy to move onto the next task if possible (this ensures constant progress) and come back to any unfinished tasks later.
4. Use Tools and Systems
Have tools, templates, systems, FAQs and procedures in place to speed up the most common tasks.
You may also like to research software and cloud-based apps that make your work easier.
This may include bookkeeping software, time tracking apps such as Toggl, project management apps such as Asana, file management systems such as Evernote, Dropbox and Google Drive – many of which have low or no-cost versions available.
5. Outsource and delegate
If there’s a task you’re not great at, or hate doing, but it has to be done, find a way to outsource it or delegate it to someone else.
This doesn’t always involve hiring employees. You may look at using a sub-contractor or an outsourcing agency.