Want more time to be able to grow your business? The answer is increasing your productivity to reclaim time typically lost to inefficiency. The internet is full of tips on how to lose weight, create your own hair mask, fix a computer issue and don’t even get me started on the vortex that is searching on Pinterest for “Kids’ Birthday Party Ideas.” The internet is also fully stocked with tips on how to increase your productivity, so many though, that choosing which ones to attempt can be overwhelming. Every business owner is unique and methods that work for one may not work for another.
Use these tips as the cornerstones for maximizing your time to see immediate results and improve productivity by leaps and bounds.
1. Utilize A Digital Task List:
In this fast-paced world where you’re expected to be everywhere, know everything and meet with everyone, using a task list is absolutely necessary. It forces you to get all of the to-dos out of your head an on to a list where you’re less likely to forget about them. Stress comes from the feeling of not knowing what needs to be done and not being able to complete everything. You don’t need to do everything though – at least not right now! You just need to complete your priority tasks and projects. Other tasks can wait and should be prioritized that way. Utilizing a task list enables you to prioritize tasks most effectively and efficiently. Going digital with your task list via task management software has these great added benefits:
- Always Backed Up
- Email Integration
- Access On All Mobile Devices
- Set Up Reoccurring Tasks
- Assign Dates
- Automatic Roll-Over
2. Stop Multitasking:
As work environments become increasingly demanding, it’s enticing to attempt multitasking. The problem is trying to multitask risks our most valuable asset, time, because multitasking is an oxymoron! We are not capable of doing multiple tasks at once and doing them both well. When you think you are multitasking, you are actually just alternating back and forth between tasks rapidly, neither of which is receiving your full attention.
When you buy into the lie of multitasking, you are condemning yourself to feeling overwhelmed, making mistakes in your work and communicating poorly with others. Being efficient requires you to focus on one activity at a time.
3. Process Emails:
Business email users received and sent an average of 121 emails a day in 2014. That’s more than 44,000 emails per year! Like most business owners, you likely lose emails, information and opportunities as a direct result of receiving so many emails yet not deciding to act upon them. Checking emails throughout the day, scanning and leaving many to deal with “later,” results in a cluttered inbox and increased stress. Start processing your emails instead. Schedule a block of time each day to work through your inbox, and take one of the following actions on each and every email:
- Forward (Delegate)
- Reply/Then File or Delete
- File (Keep)
- Schedule (Create Task)
4. Just Say NO:
Like most business owners, you probably often overcommit yourself to non-valuable activities because saying yes to requests of your time seems easier. Time is your most valuable asset, so it is important to eliminate those activities which don’t align with your goals. Eliminate unnecessary meetings, lunches, projects, seminars and other activities to reclaim time to spend on your high priority activities. That often means having to say no, but in turn, you are saying yes to yourself and your own ambitions.
According to Warren Buffett, “The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people, is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” To determine if a proposed activity or meeting is worth your time, filter it against your goals. If it’s not, delete it or delegate it.
- Delete – Stop doing any activity that is unnecessary, does not provide appropriate value or does not align with your goals.
- Delegate – If an activity is a wasteful use of your time but either aligns with your goals or is a necessary evil of running your business, delegate the task to someone else. For example, if your time is worth $50 an hour, don’t spend an hour running a dry-cleaning errand that your assistant could do. Spend that hour working on priority tasks that only you can complete.
If you are not already time blocking, you likely never “find the time” to complete some of your high priority tasks or projects. Time blocking is a powerful strategy to promote focus that involves creating smaller, task / project-based goals for your time. Essentially, time blocking means purposefully allocating chunks of time to completing a specific task or project and strictly abiding by the schedule you’ve established.
To effectively time-block, identify the best times you have open in which you can complete focused work. Plan out periods of around 60 – 90 minutes on your calendar, and label them as the project or task name, then work all of your other tasks around those times. Time blocking can only work if you stay committed to the process. To see the full benefit, hold meetings with yourself as sacred as you would a meeting with your client, including following the rules of no phone calls, emails, internet surfing or other distractions.
Make the choice to implement these powerful productivity tips, and you will build a solid foundation for efficiency in your work. Utilizing the tips as part of your daily routine will help you decrease stress, grow your business and free up time to spend on your high-priority activities or even those numerous passions outside of work.