When it comes to boosting your small business’s productivity, there’s one fact you should keep in mind: It starts with you. It seems to have a trickle-down effect. If your employees see that you aren’t productive, they may take it as a cue to sit back and not worry about completing their own work. While it’s probably rare that you would just sit back and be lazy as a small business owner, consider this much more common scenario.
Your employees will often look to you for advice, either in words or action, for increasing their productivity. Often, they will use the same techniques you do to get through their workload. If they see that you are constantly working, but don’t seem to get much done, they may fall into the same trap. This is especially true if you employ younger workers who don’t have their own methods in place from years in the workforce.
The good news is, there are some easy ways to make sure your time is used productively. Integrate these 9 hacks into your workflow to maximize your productivity as a small business owner.
Rethink your Meeting Strategies
If you use any kind of calendar software (and you should), you’ve probably noticed that the default setting is one hour for new events. But scheduling every meeting for an hour can be a massive waste of time. Most issues can be discussed in 15 to 30 minutes. Make sure you change meetings to no longer than 30 minutes, unless you know you’ll need the extra time.
Moreover, having meetings every day can be exhausting, and can keep both you and your employees away from important work. You should designate at least one day a week as a no-meeting day. That way, you and your team can work on projects big and small without distraction.
Create a Manageable Priority List
A common productivity tip is to create a list of tasks to complete, ordered by priority. However, when that list is some 10 to 15 items long, it can be impossible to get through. Instead, select the absolute most urgent tasks that you need to complete today. Depending on the time commitment of each, the list should ideally be three to five items.
While having a shorter list allows you to actually focus on the most urgent tasks, it also allows you to not stress quite as much during the day. With a shorter priority list, you have more time (even if it’s just a few extra minutes) to decompress and shift your attention in between tasks.
Take Time to Think About the Long-Term
When you are running your small business, it’s easy to fall into a cycle of worrying about all the day-to-day operational needs, and tell yourself the long-term plan will come “next week.” But then next week comes, you’re still grinding out daily tasks, and the long-term plan is put on the backburner again.
You should take at least one day a month to evaluate where your company is headed. You should evaluate your long-term goals, where the industry is going and other factors to determine your success in the long-run. Optimally, this should be done outside the office to get a bit of isolation during this process.
Avoid the Trap of Reading Nonessential Emails First
While it’s always good to stay abreast on industry trends and other material, doing so should not be a top priority. In fact, opening these kinds of emails as they come in can hurt your productivity. Rather, set up a folder (or separate email address) for these kinds of emails and review them when you have downtime.
The best time to read these? When your energy levels are down. Productivity is closely tied to moods, emotions and energy. Often, energy levels drop during the lunch hour or in the late afternoon. Use this time to read and respond to nonessential emails.
Create 80-20 Analyses Each Month…
Worried you’re wasting too much time as you’re running your small business? The bad news is, you may be right. The good new is, it’s easier to remedy than you may think. The secret is the 80-20 analysis. Essentially, you want to identify the 20 percent of your activities that are producing 80 percent of the desired results.
Then, identify the 20 percent of the activities that are taking 80 percent of your time. Finally, identify the activities that keep you busy, but don’t produce key results.
… But Don’t Let Them Paralyze You
Maybe you can’t identify the 20 or 80 percent in either scenario. Or, with other business analyses, you are getting imperfect data. Often, this leads to “analysis paralysis.” Because the picture created by the data may not be as clear as you want, you decide not to act. This is a mistake.
While it’s important to gather as much data as possible, it shouldn’t delay the moment of decision-making. As former White House staffer James Waters said, “A good decision now is better than a perfect decision in two days.”
Prioritize Your Personal Health
One of the biggest downfalls in productivity for both the business owner and the employee is poor health. If you don’t feel well, chances are you won’t be able to focus at work. While not every illness is avoidable (we all get a cold every now and then), there are ways you can boost your wellbeing.
Poor diets and inactivity are two of the main causes of low productivity. Simply going for a short walk every day during lunch and eating more fruits and vegetables can provide the boost you’re looking for. Encourage your employees to also integrate these changes in their lifestyles to increase productivity.
Optimize Your Workspace Comfort
If your workspace isn’t designed with you in mind, research suggests you may find it harder to focus and be productive. You and your employees should have the power to organize and design your workspace. Studies show that those who are allowed to do so are 32 percent more productive than those who aren’t.
Some of the most important factors are paint colors, light, furniture arrangement and, perhaps surprisingly, plants. Having a few green plants around has been shown to help employees de-stress and recover better from demanding activities. Plus, they help clean the air.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Here’s the (not-so) secret so many small business owners don’t want to hear: You don’t have to do it alone. When you have a team of trusted employees, rely on them to help you carry the company forward with you. By unloading some of the burden, you can focus more on the big picture.
Company.com can also help take some of the burden off your shoulders. We offer a variety of small business services, from hiring assistance to payment processing, to alleviate some of the day-to-day grinding. That way, you can shift your focus to moving your business forward. Contact us today for a free demo and to learn more about how we can help your company thrive.