By Meaghan Yorke
Small business owners have to juggle running a company, taking care of employees, dealing with customers and generating a profit all while being crushed by an ever-increasing list of business-related tasks. The only two ways to increase workplace productivity include putting in more hours or simply working smarter. While you can’t buy more time, what you can do is try to accomplish more with the time you already have in your hands.
Here are five essential productivity tips that will help you as a business owner find new ways to manage time more effectively and fit even more work into your already busy schedule.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Being the first to arrive at work and the last to leave office is a great way to set a positive example for your employees. The entrepreneurial grind is all too real and occasional all-nighters and long work hours are practically guaranteed in the first couple of years of starting a business. This hectic pace can take a toll even on the best of us but you need to realize that constant exhaustion and continuous sleep deprivation often lead to diminished or virtually non-existent concentration, elevated stress levels, frequent mood swings and poor problem-solving capabilities.
Long-term sleep deprivation increases the risk of developing heart problems, weight issues and can wreak some serious havoc on your hormones. If you’re having difficulties falling asleep and waking up in the morning, consider creating and sticking to a sleep schedule and implementing a nightly bedtime routine that doesn’t include staring at a smartphone or a laptop. Regular sleep helps our brain repair damaged neural pathways and improves both short- and long-term memory retention.
2. Prioritize and Delegate Tasks
Delegating and prioritizing are two of the most important time management and organizational skills every business owner should master. When setting your priorities, the best course of action is to place difficult, urgent, as well as time- and a resource-consuming task at the very top of your to-do list and work on completing them first. Identify the ones that require your personal attention and delegate the ones that don’t. This will allow you to focus solely on the most urgent items and avoid becoming sidetracked by trivial tasks that can easily be accomplished by some of your employees.
3. Eliminate as Many Distractions as Possible
Whether it’s a colleague popping his or her head for a quick chat, a constant barrage of notifications coming from your smartphone, the allure of social media network or a text from the bank, distractions and interruptions are absolutely detrimental for your productivity. Keep your office doors closed to avoid being interrupted and keep your smartphone away from your sight when working. Encourage employees to keep their phones off at work, but make sure to provide them with regular breaks to check on their phones if they absolutely have to.
4. Focus on a Single Task
Multitasking sounds like a perfect solution to the increasingly demanding work environments of growing and developing companies. But this couldn’t be further away from the truth. In fact, multitasking results in a decrease in efficiency and work quality and make filtering out unrelated information and organizing our thoughts even more difficult. Multitasking also increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol and leads to mental exhaustion. Instead of multitasking, you should try consolidating your tasks and work-related errands and focus on a single task at any given time and stick with it until it’s been successfully completed. Alternatively, you can automate tasks such as expense reporting, task management, data backup, event scheduling, etc.
5. Maintain Employee Satisfaction
Your employees are the backbone of your business and need to be treated as such. By providing them with a comfortable, stress-free work environment and making sure they have the right tools for the job, you’re making their job easier and more enjoyable to perform. Encourage your employees during meetings and listen to any concerns and ideas they might have. Don’t be afraid to show them that you are listening by periodically implementing some of their ideas.
As you can see, increasing productivity is not about adding more hours and working harder than ever before, but rather being smart and optimizing your efforts by doing quality work in less time than before and drastically reducing the amount of time you spend on unnecessary tasks. Keep your employees happy and relaxed and make sure they have everything they need to finish their work with little to no distractions if possible.