Small business owners have a seemingly impossible number of things to juggle simultaneously: Financial aspects of the business, personnel, keeping customers and employees happy, ensuring a continuous revenue stream, dealing with vendors, contractors, among many other professional concerns. Keeping a family and social life active is added on top of all the worries and responsibilities that come with owning a business. Productivity can suffer when there is simply too much to handle. Here are some tips to maintain high productivity, or to raise productivity to the maximum potential.
1. Time Management Skills
Any successful small business owner likely has strong time management skills. It takes hard work, focus and determination to build a business from the ground up. Even the most organized and efficient people can suffer from an overloaded work schedule. Employees also may not display as effective time management skills. Take note of and keep track of how much time is spent on specific activities and tasks. If it seems like it is taking longer than necessary, search for streamlining options to limit the time spent on mundane or less important issues. Ensure that the bulk of the workday is spent on things bettering the business, the product, the employees, and the customer’s experience.
2. Outsource Time Consuming Tasks
Things like payroll are extremely tedious, but necessary jobs that must be done every week, or every other week. Most small business owners simply do not have the time to sit down and figure out their company’s payroll. Outsourcing this duty to a company like QuickBooks can save an invaluable amount of time. Incurring the costs of this service frees up hours of otherwise unproductive time during the workweek.
3. Employ the “Two-Minute Rule”
Popularized by entrepreneur Steve Olenski, the rule suggests that if a task immediately in front of you can be done in under two minutes, do it then and there. According to Olenski (and backed by thousands of his online supporters) it actually takes more time to come back and do it later. The key to successfully using this rule is only applying it to tasks that you know for sure can be finished within the timeframe. Otherwise, you will actually be consuming more time than anticipated and reduce the day’s productivity.
4. Be Wary of Meetings
Meetings are the single largest waste of time in the business world. Often they are called, held and ended accomplishing something that a simple phone call or email could have just as easily accomplished. On average, employees spend 31 hours per month in meetings they considered unhelpful or useless, according to Atlassian. Try to avoid meetings entirely. If a meeting is necessary, try to cap it around 15 minutes. Another popular trend is holding “standing meetings,” where, as the name suggests, everybody stands. This will likely expedite the meeting and get everyone back to work.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Take Breaks
It seems counterintuitive to increasing productivity; taking time out of the workday specifically to not do anything productive. Research suggests quite the contrary, however. Taking breaks during long, difficult tasks can keep performance consistently high, whereas trying to complete the task in one sitting can make the productivity and quality of the work decline rapidly as the end gets closer.
6. Your Employees Matter
The employees under you are likely responsible for a large portion of your revenue stream and are a large part of the productivity of your company. The best, most productive employees feel a sense of pride in what they do, and doing it well. Try to do things around the office to keep morale high and keep employees focused on preforming their job to the best of their abilities. Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrate important holidays. Monetary awards like bonuses are great, as people often tie their production at work to compensation they receive. Taking a personal interest in your employees can have just as strong an effect. Knowing about their families, their interests and simply asking how their day is going can help improve the productivity of the company.
7. Avoid Distractions
Obviously. There is some nuance in this simple action. Distractions come in all forms: notifications from your phone or computer, a co-worker popping in your office for something small and then talking for five minutes, a phone call with a vendor that goes an extra 20 minutes because his son just won second-place in his karate tournament. Avoid your cellphone as much as possible during the day. Turn your notifications off for everything non-essential. Only pay attention to phone calls or text messages from people who require immediate responses. Respond to e-mails based on importance, not chronology. If an e-mail can wait a day or two, let it. Focus on more pressing, important issues to the business. Also try to avoid personal calls and e-mails during working hours. An innocent five minute conversation with your brother or sister could turn into 45 minutes of family gossip, and that is simply unproductive.
8. Make Your Workspace Nice to Look At
Beauty is an underestimated attribute. Giving yourself a clean, well-lit environment to work in is invaluable. Research shows that aesthetically pleasing workspaces, furnished with things like plants, can increase productivity by up to 15%. Anything that can brighten up the workspace: photographs, candles, or whatever makes you happy to look at.
Following these tips is a good start to increasing your own personal productivity as well as productivity around the company. Owning a business is hard work, so why make it any harder than it has to be? These are simply a starting place to catapult your business from so-so production to elite levels of productivity. Happy, efficient people do the best work. Start on your way to a happy, efficient, productive company.
Author: Tyler Nolan, staff writer Encompass Accounting LTD. Twitter: t_nol_