Do you find yourself frustrated at the end of your working day? Feel like you’ve been ‘busy’ all day yet actually achieved nothing? Where the hell did your time go?
I have a question. Are you being busy or productive?
Many small business owners I speak with feel like this and the reason is, most are working in an ad hoc way with little or no structure. They may have a task list but not enough planning. They’re focusing on (and in many cases doing) the wrong things. Not concentrating enough on their high level, income generating tasks but more on the low level stuff that quite frankly almost anyone could do.
Here’s my top 5 tips to turn your productivity around:
Plan, plan, plan
- Plan your day the night before. Knowing exactly where to focus your energy gives you a head start to the day and stops the fluffing around when you reach your desk in the morning.
- Plan your large projects and break down the tasks to ones you can complete in less than an hour (if you can break them down to less than that even better). Breaking down your tasks will reduce your overwhelm and allow you to complete them quickly (i.e. during your focus hour – more on that later).
- Plan your week. Give yourself time to complete client or project work – schedule time in your calendar so you don’t overbook online or in person meetings. Schedule time in your calendar for yourself. You cannot operate at your peak performance if you’re feeling tired or grumpy because you haven’t given yourself time for you.
Identify Non-Profitable Tasks
- All small business owners have a hundred tasks to perform. So why is it that others seem to have more time than you? They probably outsource their non-specialist, non-profitable tasks.
- So how can you do this?
- Download our time tracker spreadsheet.
- Over the course of a week (ideally longer) capture everything you do. If you use a task manager and everything – I mean EVERYTHING – is captured, simply export that data instead
- Review your results and identify all tasks that do not require your specialist industry knowledge or are not directly related to making money i.e. social media planning, creation & connections, client file development, appointment confirmations, website maintenance, testimonial request and distribution etc.
- Create a process around these tasks, even better if its a screen based task record a video of you completing it with a program like SNAG IT (you only need to do this once)
- Outsource that task to someone else and concentrate on the big stuff
Complete the hard stuff first
- For most people, the first thing they do each morning is open email and get drawn into immediate responses or fall down the rabbit hole of social media. *Anyone putting their hand up?*.
- Instead – delay opening your email and social media and complete your must do task for the day or get stuck into something you’ve been procrastinating about.
- For most, our energy levels are at their highest in the morning so leverage this, get the important tasks out of the way first, your day will be off to a flying start and quite honestly, no one will know (or perhaps care) that you haven’t jumped online yet.
- It’s easy to get distracted when notifications are popping up, our brain reminds us of something that’s urgent or we get a little bored with the task we’re working on. Its normal. However flitting from task to task, or even trying to multi-task is setting ourselves up to fail (no matter how good at multi-tasking you think you are).
- Instead – give yourself a focus hour. There’s many different techniques i.e. Pomodoro Technique, the technique I use is simple. I close down my email, set my phone to silent and simply commit to focusing on the task at hand for 50 minutes. During this 50 minutes I can create my best work as it has my full and undivided attention.
Get the right tools and equipment
- The right software. As small business owners we are fortunate to have access to affordable platforms which can dramatically increase our productivity, through being better organised, streamlining how we work and automating tasks. Take time to work out the software you need in your business, get it set up correctly and importantly, learn how to use it. I know of many business owners who have invested time and money in software but as they don’t know how to use it properly – never fully realise the benefits. A few hours training now will save you many hours in the future.
- Pretty much all cloud based platforms that help you work more productively also have a version in app form. For mobile productivity, download the app and again, make sure you know how to use it!
- Update software when needed. You know those annoying updates on your computer and mobile device? They are there for a reason. Update the software and enjoy the benefits of new features, greater security and faster processing.
- Replace any broken equipment. I once knew a business owner who was working with an incomplete keyboard (one of the key’s had broken). The amount of frustration they experienced because of this was unreal (not to mention the time they lost due to not being able to type easily). Replace any broken equipment immediately, the dollar amount you will save in time will vastly outweigh the initial outlay.
Will you change your way of working today? Pick just one area that could help you.