Business owners often struggle with being productive enough to keep their business running. The problem is that they may be spending too much time on tasks that don’t provide new information or produce value for the business. Here are four strategies for increasing your productivity without sacrificing your quality of life or work-life balance.
What It Means To Be Productive
In theory, productivity is how much you do in a given time period. But if you believe that, how productive are you really? The key to productivity is being focused on the right things. Don’t spend the majority of your time on useless tasks. What I mean by this is that when you are deciding which tasks to work on, ask yourself the following questions: Is there something valuable in what I’m doing right now? What is the risk if I don’t do this today? What could be lost if I don’t do it today? If I don’t do this today, what can I do to make up for it tomorrow? It’s important to understand that you don’t need to have all the answers right away.
Ways To Increase Your Productivity
Change How You Think About Work. It’s natural to spend a large part of your day on work, and it’s perfectly fine to do so. In fact, being fully engrossed in your work is very beneficial for business owners because it ensures that you’re fully invested in your business. But you need to be careful. If you allow your work to consume your entire life, you’ll slowly begin to despise it. You’ll gradually find yourself spending your entire day working, making your day long and empty, and you’ll lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing. A better strategy is to set boundaries for yourself.
1. Prioritize and create a list of tasks
Most business owners get lost in the weeds and get overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks. This is a big mistake. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, carve out a specific amount of time each day for working on the key priorities for your business and prioritizing work. It can be helpful to give yourself a list of items that you need to accomplish each day. Break it down into three categories and focus only focus on 3 priorities in each.
I created a notepad for this sole purposes. It has a section to start my day off by writing what I’m grateful for. Then it jumps into Business, Self Development and Home/Family. I picked these 3 areas because personally it makes me feel well rounded at the end of the day and figured others could benefit from it as well.
So for business, I first recommend spending time working on the tasks that will result in revenue. Secondly, spend time working on tasks that will improve the business in terms of growth and productivity. Third, focus on tasks that may have rolled over from the previous day or repetitive tasks such as followups. Once you have a list of work tasks to complete each day, take a deep breath and take them one at a time.
2. Use time blocking
I’ve found time blocking extremely useful. I bought this handy cube timer that sits on my desk. I try not to work on any one task longer than a hour and this helps me to do just that. Have you ever been in your office and started a project and look up half the day is gone and spent on ONE task? You haven’t eaten, stretched or noticed its dark outside? I have many of times lol. You want to diversify your time because it helps you accomplish more.
It makes your work more manageable because you can block time for specific tasks. During this time close all other applications that aren’t applicable to completing that task. So for instance if you have client projects you need to work on daily, try to dedicate maybe a hour. When the timer rings, get up stretch, take a sip of water and recharge yourself. Now this doesn’t mean that you can only spend a hour on client projects but ensures you stay on task.
Here is what my schedule looks like and it changes depending on the day of the week as I do certain tasks on specific days.
- 3 hours dedicated to current projects
- 1 hour for support tickets
- 30 minutes on followup calls/emails
3. Low Value Tasks
Every business owner is busy, so they need to make sure that the bulk of their time is dedicated to tasks that provide high value for the business. Business owners may not have the time to complete all of their daily duties, so they may have to cut down on lower priority items like scheduling meetings or calls. Finding areas where you can automate or send people to a designated place is ideal and saves you time. So for scheduling, instead of going back and forth in email on what day/time works for everyone, send them a link to your calendar to schedule a time that works for them.
There are certain tasks that just don’t help build business value, and it is vital that they are cut out of the workload. By taking care of tasks that only produce high value for the business, you can free up the rest of your day to spend more time on tasks that provide information, value and expertise that will improve the business in the long run.
4. Invest in Outsourcing
To become more efficient, it’s important to find ways to offload work to outside professionals who can handle certain tasks more efficiently. When it comes to tasks that require advanced analytical skills and technical proficiency, outsourcing can help you scale up or down in order to handle more or less of the work at a given time.
It’s easy to find virtual assistants for repetitive tasks. You can use resources such as upwork.com, remote.co and fiverr.com to find someone to handle those low value tasks we previously discussed. I know it’s hard, because no one can do it as good as you right? lol Trust me, I get it but you have to let go, its for the better good of your business!
Using these steps help bring structure to your day and business. It prevents you from spinning your wheels on what needs to be done daily and allows you to actually be productive and only focus on what’s most important. What are some things you do to help you be more productive?