Business today is built on the idea of getting a high quality product or service to the customer or client as quickly as possible. Often, this means working long hours, and “requesting” that your employees do the same. Without speed and focus, your small business falls behind your competitors, and in the end, you go under. Time wasted is money down the drain, and you can’t afford that. At least, that’s the traditional line of thinking. What must be understood, however, is that every employee you hire will have a different process for completing tasks. Some work for a couple hours straight, then take a break. Others take a few minutes before each task to evaluate the situation and formulate a plan for completion. Whatever their process, it’s important not to focus on time “wasted,” but rather on what is being completed. Work productivity is not a measure of how much time is spent focused on work, but rather how an employee helps further your small business. Of course, that’s not to say there shouldn’t be some form of time management. In fact, some practices help boost productivity by spending time more efficiently. No matter what ways your employees get through their workload, these tips can help them — and you — do so more effectively:

1. Pick a Task, and Stick to It

If you don’t have some sort of list of your tasks for the day and week, creating one can help you make sure you don’t miss anything. Once you’ve done so, give each task a ranking — for instance, “Urgent,”“Very Important,”“Important”and “Can Wait.” Even if your most important task is one that will take up your entire day, being able to cross it off your list makes your day a success. When you have picked a task, focus only on it. Despite what you may think, multitasking is a myth. You may technically be able to “focus” on a few things at a time, but the quality of your work will suffer.  Concentrate on only the task at hand, getting rid of any distractions. If the task is a big one and you start feeling burned out, find a stopping point, take a break and completely switch gears to another task. Whatever you do, remember: One task at a time!

2. Use Your Personal Time Wisely

Unfortunately, work has a way of creeping into our personal lives. You can use that to your advantage. If you have a large workload, don’t be afraid to spend a couple hours on the weekend taking care of some smaller things.  This leaves you less to be stressed out about during the week. If you do so, however, Rule 1 still applies: Eliminate all distractions and focus solely on the task at hand. If you really want to boost your productivity, both at work and elsewhere, take care of yourself. Sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night, eating well and exercising regularly have all been proven to have a positive impact on your productivity.  After all, taking care of yourself in these ways boosts your energy levels and helps you keep a clear mind. Never underestimate the value of a jog, green vegetables and a good night’s sleep.

3.  Do Less to Do More

You know those times when you have so much on your plate, you feel frozen and don’t know where to start? You can avoid this feeling of panic or anxiety by doing less.  That’s not to say you should simply avoid your work. Rather, focus on the things that really matter and add value to your business. When it’s possible, learn to say no. Not everything has to fall on your shoulders; allow employees and coworkers to take some of that stress off of you. When you do have a lot to do that can’t be avoided, try to batch similar tasks, or otherwise create a system that’s easy to follow.  For instance, if you need to code two websites and build three graphics, do the sites first, take a break and do the graphics. Or, alternate between the two to avoid feeling burned out. This will help you get through your work more effectively and increase your productivity. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to breathe. Find time to sit still, even just for 15 minutes every now and again. Taking breaks helps your mind refresh, and can help you find a more effective approach to the task at hand.