As a small business owner, a freelancer, or an entrepreneur you know productivity is the name of the game. There’s a reason we put those three titles together. and that is because they’re closely related.
Each of the individuals above is often called on to wear many hats. From marketer to manager. Customer service representative to salesperson and so on. The question for many is how do you keep yourself on track while you’re working on and trying to build your small business?
What Is Productivity?
Simply put, your productivity is your ability to get the most out of your workday. With so much going on around you, staying on task and focused can be difficult. What’s more, you’re often pulled in several directions.
We all know someone who has a tendency to put too much on their plate. We may even be this person. It’s okay, we won’t judge. However, what often happens when you take on too many tasks is that none of them get done! Have ten tasks? You want to complete ten tasks. You don’t want to take 7 of those tasks 80% of the way.
Being productive can be a challenge, which is why we have you covered with a few great productivity hacks to try out.
Prioritize Your Work
Everything you need to do is important. Not everything is a priority. The tasks which must take priority should be addressed before the ones that can truly wait until later. Block off time in your day, each day, for the “must get done” items.
Sometimes the priority tasks are the ones you’d like to put off until later. Don’t. Putting these important tasks off means you’re less likely to get to them in a timely manner. Rather, make them your first tasks of the day and knock it off your plate from the beginning.
Stay Off Social Media
We’ve all been there. We all need to stop going there. Life existed before Facebook, it will exist after Facebook, and it certainly exists while you’re not ON Facebook. It is far too easy to find yourself working on that quarterly report when all of a sudden you get a notification that you’ve been tagged in a post so you pop over there to see what it is and while you’re there- oh look at that your cousin had her baby, let’s take a look at those pictures- stop!
If you need to force yourself, try installing a Chrome extension like Stay Focused, which allows you to block certain websites for a set period of time. Remove the temptation.
Oh, what’s that? Your smartphone sends you notifications too? Well, that’s what airplane mode is for!
Set Work Hours
It may sound silly but if you’re a freelancer or a small business entrepreneur, keeping regular hours seems like a thing of the past! Let those geeks stuck in an office cubicle watch the clock, I’m working on my own time!
However, there’s a reason why a workday is effective and that is because it is structured. Sure, it’s great having the freedom to know you can work at 11pm on a Tuesday night if you want, but do you really want to do that?
Rather, set regular work hours. Whether that’s 9-5 or otherwise, make that your “workday” and stick to it. This helps keep your mind focused during this time. It’s work time.
Don’t Neglect Downtime
It’s true, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners will work odd hours despite their best efforts. The goal is not to PLAN to work at 11pm on that Tuesday night. However, if something comes up during that time, you’ll probably have to take care of it.
Resign yourself to the fact that if you operate in this space, you’re almost always “on call.” However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a breather every now and then. The image of the tireless entrepreneur working 90+ hours a week is idealized, but not realistic. At least, it’s not sustainable.
Downtime can come in many forms. It’s deciding to not work on Sundays, take a weekend off every once in a while or even just taking a break during the workday. It’s well documented that even taking short breaks during the workday help to boost productivity. Taking a little time to recharge and refresh never hurt anyone.
One such method of organizing your work is “The Pomodoro Technique.” In this method, you break up your work into more manageable chunks of time. Twenty-five minutes of work followed by a five-minute break. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Learn To Delegate
Small business owners often look at their business as their child. We get it, it’s hard not to. But remember: it takes a village. That means relying on your employees as well. The truth is that not every task associated with your small business needs your hands-on attention. If there’s a task you can delegate, do it and get it off your own plate.
Don’t Neglect Your Sleep Schedule
You can’t work yourself silly. That’s why you can’t neglect downtime. In the same vein, don’t neglect your sleep schedule either. Sleep is an important part of the day for entrepreneurs. It’s a time to recharge your batteries and relax. What’s more, it helps make the next day more productive.
So yes, you may find yourself working on a last-minute task at 11pm on a Tuesday night, but try to get a good night’s sleep regardless. If you want to see poor productivity, try putting in a full workday the next day if you’re running on fumes.
Avoid Going To/Having Meetings
If you’re running a small business, odds are you and your team have put countless meetings on the books. How many of those meetings have gone longer than necessary? And how productive are they?
Consider, if you will, that while everyone is in a meeting that’s going longer than it needs to, no one is at their desk or doing the job they’re there to do. Now how productive are those meetings?
Meetings are sometimes necessary, but ask yourself how much of the substance of those meetings can more easily be covered in an email or bulletin? By all means, hold meetings when warranted, but try to keep them short, to the point, and get everyone back to work.
Being Productive Means Being Successful
We all have 24 hours in a day, 168 in a week. How we spend those hours is what makes us productive small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers. If you can learn to manage your time, stay focused, and prioritize your tasks, you’ll be enabling a successful, low-stress work environment. And that’s the key to being productive.