Productivity hacks for small businesses
More than most people, small business owners understand the value of their time and how productive they are when working for themselves. Maximizing your efficiency is important: adding just a few minutes of heightened productivity into your daily schedule could add up to multiple days’ worth of quality work over the course of a year. If you’re looking for ways to work smarter, try out these easy and effective productivity hacks.
Take control of your email
Reading and replying to email can eat a ton of time out of your schedule. Rather than allowing email to become a distraction, put technology to work to control your inbox better. Apps like Mailbox or Evomail allow you to organize incoming mail, so you only receive what’s most relevant, or shut off the flow entirely. Less important messages are filtered aside to be reviewed and dealt with at a later time. If you want to blast through a full inbox without being distracted by incoming replies, use an app like Boomerang to send your emails out at a set time in the future. Later, it’ll let you see which messages didn’t get replies and need follow-up.
The internet is an amazing and diverse resource, full of interesting information and entertainment. Ideas and inspiration are out there too, but hours and hours of surfing aren’t so productive. If you can’t avoid the distraction, or just want a better way to manage it, apps like SelfControl or Freedom temporarily disable internet and network access, making sure you focus on work, while the Pocket app allows you to save the stuff you want to look at later, say on your commute home. In addition to blocking access when you want, the RescueTime app logs your time online and in meetings, giving you a breakdown of your day and week, which can help you with your productivity goals.
Show up early
This one is the most simple and straightforward, although it could be tough if you’re not much of a morning person. Arrive at the office before everyone else, as early as you can, and those distraction-free minutes at the start of each day can be a goldmine of productivity. Once the office is active, you’ll be bouncing between meetings, phone calls, emails and the million little other things going on. That hour or so of super achievement at the start of each day is worth not hitting the snooze button.
Follow the five-minute rule
If an item comes up that you can solve in five minutes or less, don’t put it aside. Jump on it right away and get it done. Not only will you avoid a mounting backup of small tasks, it’ll fuel your sense of achievement and motivation, keeping you more productive.
Schedule a ‘no-meeting day’
Whenever possible, try to keep one day of each week completely free from meetings, conference calls and most group work. Stress the same message to your staff, so everyone gets a day to devote to getting stuff done. Mid-week days are generally easiest to keep clear, rather than the start and end of the week when you’re setting things up, or wrapping them up. Block off one day where, rather than moving in and out of meetings, or travelling all over town to meet clients, you get an uninterrupted chunk of time to sit and your desk and tackle the truly important tasks on your to-do list.
Track your tasks
Besides acting as a digital archive of all your documents, the popular Evernote app can help you with to-do lists and task management, breaking down bigger projects into actionable tasks. Similarly, the website Mindmeister lets you build a kind of ‘task tree’ that you can update and adapt as work develops. Wunderlist is a great task manager for collaborative projects, because it allows you to assign tasks to your contacts. And if you’re looking for a to-do list app with location awareness, try Checkmark, so you’ll never forget to pick up those documents you need from that client across town, or your groceries on the way home.
Take care of yourself
If you own a small business, you’ve probably put in long hours, endured periods of intense work and faced pressure to meet deadlines. Those types of high-stress situations will harm your productivity if you don’t treat your body right. Never skip eating because you’re too busy – pack some protein bars in your desk if you’ve got to power through until your next proper meal. Stay hydrated and take a walk every once in a while to get the blood moving and keep your body loose. Make exercise a priority; it’s a big help to your overall energy and well-being, which you’ll need to stay productive.