Small business owners often juggle multiple tasks and work long hours. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day, and your venture might be eating up most of them. What if there was a way to increase your company’s productivity and not lose sleep in the process?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 35 percent of Americans sleep less than seven hours a night. In addition, most people state they feel tired at least some of the time. Exhaustion decreases mental clarity and focus and hampers productivity.
If you can learn to make the most of your awake hours, you’ll increase productivity without losing precious rest and time with family and friends. A life in balance attacks tasks with more gusto than one overwhelmed with work and exhaustion.
6 Tips for Improving Business Productivity
1. Embrace Lists.
To-do lists are your best friend. It doesn’t matter if you write them by hand or keep them on your smartphone or desktop. However, you can be unproductive with lists. If you write a bunch of minor tasks on your list so you can check them off, you won’t get anything of importance done.
Instead, learn to make lists of the top five things each day to propel you toward your goals. For example, if you want to land a new corporate client, your list might look like this:
- Research ABC Corporation and what their greatest needs are
- Meet with sales team to brainstorm approach
- Call ABC Corporation and request a meeting
You wouldn’t add small tasks to your list. Different types of organizational gurus use various terms. Some call the crucial tasks your A list, while others categorize and prioritize. Use whatever method works best for you.
2. Use Virtual Meetings.
Driving to and from meetings is time-consuming. Even if you host the discussion in the same building you work in, one or two people inevitably are late. When the pandemic struck, many companies began using virtual meetings via Zoom or Google. Executives quickly realized what a time saver it was.
If someone can’t attend, they can access the recording later. The key to effective meetings is setting guidelines just as you would for an in-person meeting. For example, explain how to raise your hand virtually, be called on, and who presents what.
Ask if you need to have the meeting, or determine if the task be handled via a communication platform with only stakeholders. For instance, can you solve the issue on Slack or Basecamp as easily as pulling everyone in for a chat?
3. Improve Your Skills.
Every person has a wheelhouse of skills, and yours might lack in a few vital areas. Do an honest audit of where you struggle. Does it take you three times as long to do payroll as you think it should? You might want to take an accounting class or invest in more intuitive accounting software.
Look at your weak areas and decide if you should ramp up your skills or hire someone else to do the work. While improving your skills isn’t a fast solution to increasing productivity, it pays off in the long run. Even if you enlist someone else’s help, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s involved.
4. Delegate Minor Tasks.
Are you the type of person who thinks it’s easier to do something yourself than have someone else do it wrong? Until you learn to delegate tasks, you’ll always feel overwhelmed.
Business owners must complete some work on their own. For example, you may want to be the one who keeps a working relationship with your top clients. You should have a handle on how well your company runs as a whole. Communication with department heads is of utmost importance.
Cleaning out the coffee machine might be a nice gesture, but it is a task you can easily delegate to someone else and save time for the most important things. Sending out correspondence could easily shift to someone skilled with language or a personal assistant. Look for the things other people can complete efficiently and pass them on.
5. Balance Work and Personal.
You must create a balance between work and personal time. If all you do is work, you’ll grow less productive and more frustrated. The U.S. comes in 11th in the list of countries with the worst work-life balance, faring even worse than New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Iceland, and Israel.
Your tendency is likely to put your head down and get things done, but study after study shows going without breaks isn’t the most productive way to work. If you want to regain your passion for your business, you need to include personal time in your schedule.
6. Know When You’re Most Productive.
What hours of the day are you most productive? Everyone is different. You might be a night owl and do your most creative work between 10 p.m. and midnight. On the other hand, you might find you get more accomplished if you rise early.
Pay attention to when work flows the best and take advantage of those alert times to knock out those vital projects. Also, be aware of your peak work lengths. Do you focus intensely for twenty minutes and then lose focus? Take breaks as needed to recoup your energy and approach the project with a fresh perspective.
Embrace Your Shut-Eye to Stay Productive
No one remains productive long-term if they don’t get enough rest and recovery. Make self-care a priority, and you’ll be surprised how much your productivity soars. Look for ways to automate and streamline repetitive tasks. Give yourself permission to only finish the most critical work and let a few nonessential tasks slide.