Are you constantly feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day? You’re not alone! Almost every small business owner struggles with finding the time to get everything done. After all, we have to do everything the “big guys” do, but with limited resources and more demands.
You probably already know how important time management and productivity are — but if you’re like most people, you haven’t quite mastered them yet. The good news is, you don’t have to be some kind of Jedi master to harness the power of productivity!
Here’s a quick run-down of ten small business owner productivity tips that actually work. Start practicing a few of these today and you’ll be shocked by how quickly things start to fall in place.
1. Recognize the Value of Your Time
One of the biggest productivity problems small business owners face is trying to do everything ourselves. Whether we feel like we can’t afford to hire help or we think we’re the only ones who can do things “the right way,” we often spend our time on things that aren’t the best use of our skills.
If you want to be more productive, you must recognize the value of your time. This truly is your most important resource, and once it’s gone you can never get it back. Spend your time wisely and don’t allow anyone to waste it.
2. Start with a Priority List
A productive day and a busy day are not the same. Instead of just filling your day with tasks, make sure you’re prioritizing the things that are most likely to have an impact on your life.
As the old adage says – work smarter, not harder.
When you have large, daunting tasks ahead of you, start breaking them down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Once you’ve broken them down enough so the tasks don’t feel overwhelming, you can start adding them to your to-do list. This way, you’ll make at least a little bit of progress every day.
3. Eat the Frog
You know that super-daunting task? The one you’ve been dreading and really don’t want to do — tackle it before you do anything else. This will give you an incredible sense of accomplishment and is one of the best ways to start your day. Even better, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing the hardest task of the day is already done. Once you free your mind from having to worry about it, you’ll be more productive throughout the rest of the day.
Procrastination is the enemy! If you wait until the end of the day to tackle that daunting task, you’re almost guaranteed to lose motivation and end up putting it off until the next day. This can quickly become a vicious cycle. It will also cause unnecessary frustration and make you feel like you can’t catch up. Do yourself a favor and just get the thing done. You’ll be so much happier when you do.
4. Stop Multitasking
When you have a huge list of things to do, you might feel like multitasking is the only way to get through it. However, research has proven that multitasking reduces your performance and efficiency. There are even studies that show it creates both physical and mental health risks.
Trying to do too many things at once can make it harder to organize your thoughts and filter out irrelevant information. This makes you less effective at everything you do. Try to break the multitasking habit by focusing on one thing at a time and completing it before you move on to the next item on your list.
5. Eliminate Distractions
Distractions are the nemesis of productivity. While you may not be able to eliminate all distractions from your life, you can reduce them. Small changes can make a huge difference. For example, try silencing your phone while you’re working on projects or only answering emails at certain times of the day. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done.
Also, avoid the black hole of social media. Although platforms like Facebook and Instagram create amazing opportunities for business growth, they can also be a major time sucker. We’ve all been there – you log on to check one thing and, the next thing you know, hours of your day have disappeared. To keep this from happening, avoid going onto your social media accounts until after all your important stuff is done. Even then, set a time limit and do your best to stick to it.
6. Automate and Outsource
Automating tasks will help you get the most out of your days. This is critical if you have a small staff or you’re working by yourself. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure you have the tools and software you need to help everyone on your team make the best use of their time.
In addition, always look for ways to outsource where you can. Even if you can’t afford to hire help, you may be able to hire a social media manager, blog writer, virtual assistant, IT specialist, or even an errand-running service. These are all fairly inexpensive options that can free up hours of time each week.
7. Work on One Non-Urgent Task Each Day
Do you feel like you’re constantly putting out fires? When we’re super busy, it’s easy to spend the bulk of our days dealing with urgent issues. Unfortunately, this means that tasks that are important — but not necessarily crucial — can easily fall to the wayside. Take the time to address one non-urgent thing each day. This will help prevent that thing from becoming critical. Don’t have time to go to the dentist or get an oil change? It’s only a matter of time before you’ve got a toothache or you’re stranded by the side of the road.
There are also many non-critical tasks that can make a big difference in your small business. For instance, you may have been meaning to start exploring new vendor options, updating your marketing emails, or tweaking your website. Start chipping away at these things a little at a time and you’ll keep your business moving in the right direction.
8. Block Off Some Personal Time
When you’re always struggling to get things done, personal time is one of the first things to get put on the back burner. However, if you don’t give yourself at least some time to do things that make you happy, you will burn out.
Since inactivity is another problem that often plagues small business owners, you can tackle two issues at once by looking for a physical activity that you enjoy doing. For many, this is something like yoga or weightlifting. However, you can also explore options that feel less like “exercise” — like walking your dog, volunteering at an animal shelter, or joining a roller derby team. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Just find something that’s fun for you and schedule it on your calendar like any other important meeting.
9. Schedule a Mega-Day
Time blocking is a cornerstone of efficiency. A “mega day” takes this concept one step further. While time blocking suggests setting aside a specific amount of time — from 15 minutes to a few hours – to focus on certain tasks, a mega day can greatly expand your time and give you a huge return on your investment.
Try dedicating one day from 7 am to 7 pm to completely focused, uninterrupted work. This means no phone calls, no emails, and no distractions! Start your day by diving right into your highest-priority creative and productive tasks and stick with the project you’ve chosen all throughout this massive 12-hour chunk of time.
For best results, plan these days ahead of time. Let family, friends, and co-workers know you’ll be unavailable, then fight the desire to distract yourself. Even the quickest glance at your email or a two-minute call can throw the whole day off track. Commit to having a “mega day” at least once a month and watch how your business starts to take off!
10. Do a Time Audit
Just like any other goal, when it comes to improving your productivity, it’s important to periodically evaluate your progress. At least once a week, take the time to look back and ask yourself important questions like:
- Did you achieve your goals for the week?
- What tasks took up more time than they should have?
- What went well? Where could you make some improvements?
If you’re not sure how to answer these questions, consider using a time-tracking app, taking notes with a pen and paper, or using some other system to get a solid grasp of where your hours and minutes go each day. Doing an honest assessment each week will help you proactively make adjustments so you’re always ahead of the curve.
What’s your favorite small business owner productivity tip? Let us know in the comments below!