As a small business owner, I usually have a lot to deal with: running the company, dealing with customers, taking care of my employees, and generating profits. It became clear that in order to increase productivity I would need to work smarter, not harder. I decided to get CLEVER about how I handle my day-to-day tasks.
As I tried to accomplish more with the time I had, I came up with ten tips that helped me increase productivity in business and find balance in life as an entrepreneur.
#1. Write it Down!
Running a business and raising a family can be so overwhelming that sometimes I would forget tasks or double book meetings. I began noting everything in my planner and on my Google Calendar so I wouldn’t forget anything. Although it seems like double duty having a digital calendar and a planner, I find that when I physically write things down, I’m more likely to remember. I also keep other important information in my planner to help stay organized. I was able to plan and organize my day better once I started documenting every appointment or to-do item and trained myself to refer to the list regularly.
I began with the traditional method of writing my own to-do list on a paper but later incorporated Asana. Asana helped me organize all my files by bringing them to a central place. It also made it easier for me to delegate tasks to my team when necessary.
Other tools include dokkio and Evernote. Some of these allow you to share resources. Using online project management tools is an efficient way of organizing business files and projects. It saves time which can be utilized elsewhere.
#2. Prioritize Tasks and Stick to a Schedule
After writing everything down, my next step was to plan and work on the most urgent and crucial tasks first. Responsibilities such as attending meetings, paying bills on time, and making important phone calls among others should be at the top in the to-do list.
I was able to increase my productivity as an entrepreneur by sticking to a schedule and reviewing the plans regularly so that I can adjust my schedule as needed. We all know that things change and no matter how much you plan, life happens, and things do not go according to plan. That’s why I use the “Eat that Frog” method of planning. Look through your to-do list and decide to do, schedule, or delegate certain tasks. Out of the tasks you need to do, identify your most important task (aka your frog). Then you need to actually do the task immediately (aka eat the frog)! Repeat this simple pattern everyday. You can learn more about how to improve your time management skills as an entrepreneur in the book Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy.
Taking it even a step further, I started block scheduling. By block scheduling on my calendar, I held myself accountable to getting things done. There are many tools like Doodle, which help to organize your work schedule, provide free online surveys, offer online appointment scheduling, and many more. Other online planners include OnceHub and Weekplan.
Scheduling social media is also essential since it offers many benefits to small businesses, one of them being saved time. I opted for Buffer, an online tool that helps in growing the audience and image of the business on social media. Hootsuite is also an excellent option.
#3. Delegating tasks
Once I prioritized and planned my tasks, the next vital step was assigning my employees some responsibilities. This improves efficiency and frees time for other activities.
#4. Working on Self Control
Distractions are part of life, and eliminating them increases productivity in the entrepreneur business. I was struggling with self-control until I met Focus, a tool designed to help people eliminate distractions.
The tool blocks websites that have the potential to cause distractions during work. Other alternatives include Freedom and StayFocusd.
#5. Dividing My Day into Productive Chunks
After learning self-control, the next step was to focus on one task at a time. Remember I have a plan which makes it easier to know what responsibility comes first. Once I delegate work, I divide my day into chunks to work on remaining obligations.
#6. Monitoring and Measuring Productivity
Once I had my schedule and my self-control in check, I decided to monitor my work and see if my process was working. This helped because from here, I was able to know which part to improve to increase my productivity.
Measuring productivity can also involve tracking profits. If the process helps the business generate more revenue, then don’t stop.
#7. Changing My Mindset
I had to change my mindset regarding the way I was approaching my work. I began by completing my tasks on time. I would work on time-consuming responsibilities before embarking on smaller ones.
#8. Securely Storing vital information
To save time on trying to find files that contained sensitive information, such as bills and passwords, I decided to find a better storage system. I chose dashlane.
#9. Utilizing Each Moment
I would use any free time I found to finish small tasks. For example, while waiting for appointments, I would be making important phone calls or checking essential emails.
#10. Getting Enough Sleep and Taking Breaks
I came to realize that relaxing and letting the body rest is quite essential. During the day I would take a fifteen-minute break to meditate. It helps calm the mind and body. Overworking yourself leads to exhaustion and decreased productivity over time.