Starting and running a small business is no small feat. Small business owners are constantly juggling priorities and often work late into the night to get to everything done (like payroll and marketing). While it is exciting and challenging at the onset, being strained for time can wear on you after a while. Many small businesses don’t plan to expand their headcount, so maximizing efficiency and use of time as a solopreneur or a two-person show is key.
If you’re a small business owner, we have some productivity tips that are bound to change your daily routine and give you more flexibility and freedom in your day.
Six productivity tips every small business owner needs to know
1. Write everything down
When you’re running a small business, taking the time to capture your entire to do list in one place may not seem feasible. However, by having and actively using a central location for your action items, ongoing projects, and meeting notes, you will save yourself time sorting through loose papers or searching your email threads. By documenting everything you’re responsible for, it helps you prioritize, keep projects on track, and meet deadlines.
If you love a notebook, go old-school style and keep your journal or agenda with you wherever you go. If you’re more of a digital person, try Evernote to house your thoughts, projects, and outstanding to do items. Find whatever system works for you and stick with it. This is all about saving you time and making your day-to-day more productive; and using one tool (either print or digital) is the first step toward increased productivity.
2. Identify your peak productivity hours
This productivity tip requires you to get real with yourself and identify your peak productivity hours. We’ve all heard the term “morning person” and “night owl,” and these categorizations are real. Some people thrive in the morning, while others hit their stride burning the midnight oil. Where do you fit in?
Once you’ve decided when you’re most productive, make those hours part of your daily work day. If you don’t get going until 3pm, then give yourself the morning to sleep and dig into your work in the afternoon until the wee hours of the morning. Use this time to schedule your social media posts in bulk or to queue up a handful of email marketing campaigns. When you’re at your best, you’ll produce the best content for your social media presence and for your email audience. It’s a win-win.
Whatever works best for you will work best for your business long-term. If you’re not on your A game, then what’s the point? Hone in on the hours when you are most productive and dedicate that block of time to your most pressing tasks to get them completed as efficiently as possible.
3. Block off your time
We touched on this in the productivity tip above, but sectioning off your day into chunks is a great way to improve your productivity. With the advent of email, apps, and smartphones, you’re never a few minutes away from a distraction, be it a new email or calendar notification.
To mitigate distractions, start blocking off discrete blocks of time on your calendar. Dedicate 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon to reading your emails in batches and a different two hour period for outstanding projects. These are just examples, but they should help you divide your days and weeks into more actionable time instead of being completely reactive to whatever hits your desk or smartphone.
Countless studies report that single-tasking is much more productive than the recently popularized multitasking technique. Time blocks give you the freedom to focus and ultimately make you more efficient. It will probably take some trial and error to find out what blocking system works for you, but once you do, you’ll notice a huge difference in how productive each and every day is.
4. Adhere to the one minute rule
Consider this productivity tip a caveat to the previous one. The one minute rule means if there’s something that can be completed in one minute or less, do it immediately. Don’t add it to your to do list to finish later. All of those little items that get pushed to the end of your day can total hours of extra work when you go back to your list. Complete these small items as quickly as they come across your email or desk to free up larger chunks of time to tackle bigger projects.
Since we’re on the topic of time, dedicate time each day to unplugging from everything. Put down your phone, walk away from the computer, and shut off your tablet. Being on 24/7 just isn’t reasonable and your body (and brain) need breaks.
It may seem counterintuitive, but by allotting tech-free time into your daily routine, you will actually come back to work more focused and energized. Perpetual stimulation is draining, but with a tech-break, you can reboot naturally and return to your work priorities refreshed and ready to rock.
6. Give yourself a compliment
This just might be our favorite productivity tip on the list! We all know that being a small business owner is like running a marathon; it takes preparation, endurance, and mental toughness. When you’re in the throes of managing a business, it can be challenging to stop and take a minute to reflect on your success.
Go ahead and give yourself a compliment! Be it daily, weekly, or monthly, be sure to recognize something you’re proud of. These little pauses help your productivity by giving you a much needed reminder that you’re following your passion and succeeding! And no compliment is too small. Small wins lead to milestones, so don’t overlook them. Try complimenting yourself and see how it improves your mood and attitude toward your next business challenge. We’re willing to bet you get to the finish more quickly by adding more positivity into your business life.
Feel free to try one or all of the productivity tips! Ultimately, we want you to have fun running your small business and find a way that fits your personality and work style that leads to the greatest success. Do you already have a system that works for you? Share your productivity tips in the comment section below.