If you’re a small-business owner, you probably know all too well what it’s like to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But with just a few simple tips to increase your productivity, you can get more done in less time, work fewer hours, and experience less stress and more creativity. That’ll make you easier to work for, which will in turn boost your employees’ morale and engagement and make them more productive, too.
How do you do it? Start by ditching the busywork — you can get someone else to do many of your more mundane tasks, and you can outsource administrative duties that are more complex. Maximize travel time so you can get more down time while you’re at home, with loved ones. Telecommute wisely to maximize your time. Schedule tasks for when you work best, but don’t overwork yourself and don’t let non-urgent tasks, like email and social media, eat up too much of your day.
1. Stop Doing Busywork
It’s true that there are certain tasks that you and only you, as the business owner, can accomplish. In order to maximize productivity, you need to know which tasks those are — and don’t be afraid to delegate all the other tasks to staff members who can handle them just as well as you can. You may feel that even the most mundane of tasks won’t be done right unless you personally do it, but if you’re running your business well, your staff will be more than capable. Let go of busywork, and you’ll free up hours of time that you can use to focus on those parts of the business that truly need your attention. Delegation done right also shows your team that you trust them, which can improve employee morale.
There may be other tasks that you think you should handle, but that might be better given to someone else — because you don’t have the skills or knowledge to do them effectively. These include many administrative, accounting, and HR-related tasks. Free up even more time by outsourcing administrative duties to a professional employer organization (PEO).
2. Make the Most of Travel Time
It’s easy to think of time spent traveling as down time; you might be tempted to read a book at the airport, nap on the plane, or spend your time in the hotel relaxing in front of some bad TV show. But all of that is time you could spend on work-related tasks; if you don’t have an Internet connection because you’re on a plane or sitting in an airport, you can still write emails to send later, clean out your inbox, dispose of old computer files, catch up on industry-related reading, or return important calls. Using your travel down time wisely means that you’ll have more real down time to spend with your loved ones when you get home.
3. Telecommute Wisely
You might not have a problem focusing when you work from home, but that doesn’t mean that others in your household have the same respect for your work deadlines. Family members and pets may mean no harm when they interrupt you, but even brief interruptions can throw you off track and derail your productivity.
If possible, try to work in a separate office space, with a door you can close to keep noise, pets, and other people out. Try hanging a “Don’t Disturb” sign on the door when you’re working hard under deadline. Take short breaks throughout the day to recharge.
4. Plan Your Day Around Your Energy Levels
If you’re a morning person, you’ll probably feel at your best before lunch — and that’s when you’ll want to tackle the lion’s share of your complex tasks. But if you’re a night owl, you may want to save the really substantial work for the afternoon, and handle mundane stuff in the morning. Schedule your work day according to how you work best. That way you’ll get the most done in the least amount of time.
5. Keep Non-Urgent Tasks in Check
Non-urgent tasks, especially communications-related ones like email and social media, can easily eat up huge amounts of time if you let them. Many entrepreneurs set hard and fast limits for how often they’ll check email and how long they’ll spend doing it, and similar rules for using social media. Of course, you’ve got to answer emails sometime and building your brand on social media is one of the best ways to grow a loyal customer base. Just try not to get too carried away.
If you’re a small-business owner, you know how hard it can be to get everything done in the time you have to do it. Take steps to maximize your productivity, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can wrap up your work and get home to your family.