5 Small Business Productivity Hacks
Saving you precious minutes and hours so you can focus on the important stuff in your life
What is the scarcest thing that business owners are desperate for (other than money)? Time. I had a friend who used to say that his life would be a lot easier if he had a third hand and an extra 8 hours a day.
You would think that with all the technology we have we would somehow manage our time better. The truth is however that, it is becoming increasingly difficult to leave your job and have time off. Especially when you are the owner, and the majority of the responsibilities fall on your shoulders. Running a business is not a 9 to 5 job.
We find it more and more difficult to detach ourselves from the desk and unwind, and even when we manage to step away from the office we have mobile phones, tablets, laptops, hands-frees and all those other gadgets and pieces of technology that only seem to complicate our lives.
So how do you do it? How do you manage your time better? Here are a few small business productivity hacks worth trying out that will help you achieve more and increase your overall productivity, as well as relax more.
Ah, the good old To Do List. Personally I am a firm believer that unless you write down something you need to do, there is quite the chance it never gets done. But I am also the one to write a To Do list and never refer to it throughout the day, only to glance at it at the end and discover that I have half done tasks 3, 5 and 8.
Here are the key ingredients to a good To Do list (aka Small Business Productivity hack #1), and actually getting things done:
Write it the night before, so you save yourself time in the morning and you wake up with a purpose
- Keep it clean – only put in things you need to absolutely and definitely get done that day. Don’t clutter your list with non-important chores.
- Allocate time scales to tasks and stick to them. 3pm till 4pm – Writing a report, this means that you should be working on your report for the next hour, no excuses and no distractions allowed.
- Make it detailed – Look at these two tasks: ‘Speak to finance’ and ‘Call Jane in finance and schedule a meeting for Thursday to review the quarterly figures’. Which one sounds more urgent and doable?
Have you ever checked your calendar and discovered that your whole day is fully booked with meetings and you felt a sense of despair and frustration crawl through your body? What happened to actually working and getting things done? Meetings are important, let me rephrase that, some meetings are important, but not all of them require your presence. As a business owner you feel the urge to participate in as many meetings and conferences as possible, catching up with investors and clients-to-be face to face. But not all meetings are productive. Small Business Productivity hack #2: here is how to do it from now on:
- Only go to meetings that absolutely require your presence
- When attending/organizing a meeting try to keep an eye on the clock. Stick to the time you’ve allocated, start and finish on time. This is a business meeting, not a friendly catch-up, stay on topic and avoid the chit-chat.
- Use Skype –Whenever possible schedule calls on Skype. You can catch up with that person while in the comfort of your own office. Trust me, Skype can save you both time and money.
- Send someone else – driving up to meet a client costs you both time and money. Carefully decide if the cost is worth the reward. Is there somebody else in the company who can go to that meeting? Delegate responsibilities.
Continuing from the last point, giving responsibilities to others can save you not only hours, but whole days and weeks. At the beginning stages of your business, you were and probably still are the person to address all issues and tasks. But, as your business grows and you begin to build up your team do make use of the people who are around you. Small Business Productivity hack #3:
- Leave your ego at the door – truth is, you are not the only one who can perform a certain task. Others can do just as well if not better.
- Learn to trust – give employees the freedom to make decisions without having to consult you all the time. Do you really want to be disturbed and asked about every little assignment? Give people the freedom they need to do their job effectively
- Delegate the objective, not the method – Avoid micro-managing, give people a clear goal and give them the freedom to get on with the task as they see appropriate. Don’t forget that different people have different working styles.
- Resist the urge to interfere. Once you have given somebody a task, don’t nudge them every half hour to see how they get on. Don’t be that boss.
I have spoken before of how automating some of your tasks can save you both time and money. Writing repetitive emails, sending out campaigns and responding to communication is all part of your job, but what if I told you there is a software that can do it all for you?
Small Business Productivity hack #4: invest in marketing and sales software. Some of the things that marketing software can do for you:
- Automated follow-up emails
- Scheduled campaigns
- Social sharing
Instead of you having to spend time every day, writing monotonous emails, why not add this task to your To Do list and spend few hours preparing the content of emails and a few email campaigns, schedule them for when they need to go live and voilà! The rest will be taken care of by the software! Let the marketing system do your job for you!
# Dedicate time to the important stuff
Last, but not least, don’t forget to take a breather. Dedicate time to the important people and things in your life: family, hobbies, friends, significant other, and exercise. Live a fulfilling life!
How is that a small business productivity hack? Well, realistically speaking, you cannot give your business 100% of your energy if you don’t allow your body and mind to recharge. Allow yourself some time off. Switch off all technology for a few hours a day, trust me, your business will survive it.
Resting actively (as contradicting as that may sound), will help you be more focussed and dedicated when you come back to your desk. This way you won’t be distracted later on that you don’t spend enough time with the people that matter.
After all wasn’t that one of the reasons why you started your own company? To be your own boss and be flexible.
I hope these tips help you manage your time better. Give them a go and let me know how you get on. Which of these 5 things are guilty of not doing enough?