Updated: May 10
If you’re a small business owner, it’s easy to see why you’d sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed. You may have some employees helping in finance, sales, marketing or operations, but at the end of the day they report to you. You likely sign the checks, sign off on the sales and marketing plan, and have the final say on new equipment purchases. You’re moving 100 miles an hour across multiple functions on any given day. It’s no wonder that keeping things straight is challenging.
So how can you increase your productivity and make your life a little easier? Here are eight tried and true time management and productivity tips for small business owners:
Don’t multitask. Yes, you wear tons of hats, but don’t try to wear them all at the same time. If you’re on task, stay on that task until it’s complete and finished. The quality of your work suffers when you don’t devote your full attention to the task at hand.
Don’t procrastinate. It’s a simple win to check off all the easy tasks on your daily to-do list, but don’t put off those difficult or daunting tasks because they’re unpleasant. Tackle them head on and complete it. It will make you feel good, accomplished, and relieved to get it off your list and get it done!
Plan your work; work your plan. Create a list of tasks you need to accomplish each morning. Make the list realistic. Prioritize those tasks and then start with number one and work through your list. Sounds simple enough, but all too often distractions get in the way and before you know it you’re multitasking (see point one).
Check email only after completing a task. It’s very easy to get distracted if you check your email after every email notification alert. While it may be hard to do at first, try ignoring those alerts until you’ve finished the task at hand, and only then review your inbox.
Use the calendar feature of your email system. Google and Outlook both have integrated calendar features that allow you to plan your schedule. Don’t just plan your meetings. Put placeholders in for the tasks you need to accomplish, including the obvious like lunch or breaks. These calendars have mobile apps as well, allowing you to access your calendar on the go.
Plan for contingencies. You need to build time into your schedule for the unexpected. If it takes you 30 minutes normally to drive to a meeting location, you might want to factor in 15-20 minutes for things like traffic or finding a place to park. Being late for business meetings is not a healthy habit. Plus, getting to your meeting a little early allows you to take a deep breath and focus on the meeting outcome. That extra little bit of prep time can be valuable.
Unless its business related, social media fun comes after work. It’s easy to get distracted on social media today, with Twitter and Facebook streams sharing all that much needed information (insert sarcasm). Sure it’s good to catch up on family and friend happenings, but doing it after work will keep you focused on more important matters.
Take a lunch and breaks. When you’re on a roll, it’s easy to simply work through lunch or eat at your desk. Unless you’re on a deadline, don’t do it. Get up and get out of the office for lunch. Take a walk or short drive to clear your head. While this may seem counterintuitive, these breaks will help you refocus and increase your energy levels.
As a small business owner, your productivity and time management are paramount. We hope these eight tips help you stay focused and manage your all-important workday. You might also find these other recent posts helpful in your role as well, so be sure to check them out.