This might be surprising information, but one out of four small business owners work over 60 hours a week. Of course, if you ARE a small business owner – this number might seem low! But even if you personally don’t work those extensive hours, chances are you’re working somewhere between 40-50 hours a week. Sometimes, it can feel like there is never enough time to accomplish all the goals you’ve set out for your business. And you’ve probably already dogeared some tasks that could be completed more quickly or efficiently. You could be doing pointless paperwork, getting distracted by technology, or simply managing your time incorrectly.
But when you’re not working efficiently and simply trying to stay afloat – chances are that you don’t have time to really examine your work practices and optimize your procedures. But get this: recent studies claim that most business owners spend a whopping 21 hours on menial, time-wasting tasks. So, with that information, investing a few hours a week in simply streamlining your business practices sounds a lot more worth it, doesn’t it? We’ve put together some tips and tricks that will help you become a more productive, less stressed business owner and maybe… just maybe… one who works shorter hours!
There are three main aspects of productivity: Organization, Focus & Time Management. These cornerstones of productivity all converge to either create a dream or a nightmare. By getting a handle on each of these, you’ll find yourself becoming more productive in your day-to-day work life and even your personal life!
If your workspace and procedures are messy and unorganized – so is your mind. Running a business has TONS of moving pieces, so if you don’t have all of them lined up all of these pieces will converge on each other until you’re left with a huge incomprehensible mess. So, here are a few tips you can use to get more organized:
1. Manage your office space & storage strategies
It’s simple, really. Organizing your workspace makes life easier. It might be a bit of work up-front, but it will make finding important necessities. If you pick a filing system that works for you – stay consistent with it and use it for everything!
2. Manage your finances
Finances can be hectic from the get-go, especially if you put it off as “future you’s problem”. But staying on top of your finances can be as simple as dealing with them as soon as they’re completed. There are tons of finance management systems out there – and we would recommend finding one you like and sticking with it.
3. Go paperless
Want to really save some time on filing and some space in your office? Skip the paper records altogether. Everyone hates paperwork – it’s just a fact of life. If you work in an industry that can handle it, try to reduce your physical paperwork when you can and instead opt for digital copies and documents.
We are living in the age of distraction. With social media, amazing shows, and addicting games all at our fingertips, keeping your focus can feel almost impossible. Especially on those days where you just don’t want to be working. So, limiting these distractions and staying focused on the task at hand is essential in becoming more productive. If you stay focused while you’re working – it will take you less time to complete tasks. Which leaves more time to catch up with your favorite celebrity’s Instagram feed or binge the entirety of Game of Thrones.
Eliminate as many distractions as you can
First and foremost, if you’re trying to get work done with the TV, your phone in your hand, and 12 tabs open on your computer, it just isn’t going to happen. You’re human – and humans love distractions. By eliminating as many possible distractions as you can, you’re setting yourself up for success. So – before you begin working:
- Move to a quiet place
- Close the door to your office
- Let your coworkers know not to distract you for a while
- Closeout all programs and tabs on your computer that aren’t relevant to your task
- Turn off your phone’s notifications
Practice the Pomodoro technique
Okay, this one sounds kind of wacky, but here at Surf Your Name – we use this technique when we’re having trouble focusing, and surprisingly…. it really works! So, what’s the Pomodoro technique? It’s pretty simple:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and get started on your project.
- When the timer buzzes, take a short 5-minute break.
- Then, set your timer again and get back to work.
- Once you’ve repeated this process for 4 rounds – you can take a 20-30-minute break.
We all know what multitasking is… and we all know that it doesn’t work. Running a small business has tons of moving parts, so you might feel like you have to do a million things at once. But here’s the truth: you don’t (and you can’t!). If you’re working on tons of different tasks all at the same time, you’re not going to get any of them done efficiently. You’ll probably make mistakes and have to go back and do things again. So, to stay focused, we recommend monotasking – focusing on one single task until it’s completed, then moving on to the next item. You’ve probably heard the phrase: “It’s better to whole-ass one thing, than half-ass ten things”.
People say a lot of things about time: it heals all wounds, it is money, it flies. When it comes to running a business, though – time is something you probably never have enough of. So, how do you make the time that you DO have count? By working on the following tips & tricks, you’ll be able to make the most of your time so you can focus on the important things: running your business.
Do the most difficult things first
If it makes you go “ugghhhhh”, you should always do it first. By getting the most difficult tasks completed early in your day, you’re setting yourself up for success. It can be easier to accomplish complicated tasks when you’ve still got the steam and momentum to deal with them. If you save the difficult tasks for the end of the day, you’re more likely to make the smaller tasks take longer than they need to. It’s called procrastinating, and we’re all guilty of it. So – if you have that huge report or the month’s billing to do that day, get it done first. Then, you don’t have to spend all day dreading it.2. Compartmentalize your time
Wanna zoom through your to-do list like Usain Bolt zooms through the 100-meter sprint? Give yourself some specified “do not disturb” time. Block off your schedule for a few hours, or even a whole workday – let your coworkers or clients know that you’re not available for meetings or appointments, and Get. Stuff. Done. Carving out this time for focusing on tasks minimizes interruptions, allowing you to engage in deep, productive work.
Set a time limit for each task
At Surf Your Name, we operate on a quote structure – so all of the tasks we do have specific time limits associated with them. For instance, if we need a graphic for a social media post, we know from experience that the design and editing process will usually take around 1 hour. So, if we start the project at 9 am, we want to be finished by 10 am. It becomes a kind of like a game. Trying to beat the clock and get the best quality work in the shortest possible time! Even if you operate on a different business model, setting time limits for tasks can help you plan your day and estimate your output more accurately, which sets you up for success AND allows you to challenge yourself to work more productively!
Productivity isn’t a math equation – and everybody & every business is different. But at Surf Your Name, productivity is something we take very seriously. We’re always trying to increase our output and our quality of work and these tips and tricks have worked wonders for our team. But one sure-fire way to stay productive and increase your efficiency? Delegation. There are some tasks that you just don’t have time for, and that’s okay! At Surf Your Name, we specialize in all things digital marketing, so you don’t have to worry about it. You can cross your website design, website maintenance, and digital marketing tasks off your list and free up some much-needed time for you to focus on your passion & livelihood.
Give us a call today to see how we can help your business!