Being small business owners means we are all wearing a whole heap of different hats all the time-accountant, social media manager, receptionist…and man does that list just go on and on. When there are only so many hours in the day and days in the year, getting all that shit done can definitely be a challenge! Focus is key here but including a couple of the below into your daily routine could just mean you’re done in time for tea… or wine!
1. Prioritize your to do list
I love a long to do list but let’s be honest I’m probably a bit of an anomaly. Write that list so you remember all those little things and then prioritize it. Personally I rank them in 1st, 2nd and 3rd with 1st being the most immediate and then I start at the top and work through the number 1’s first. But I don’t rank everything, if there’s no time constraint for something I don’t rank it and it can wait. I rollover my to-do lists on a weekly basis and eventually either everything gets done or scratched off.
2. Put the smart phone down
One of the biggest hurdles to a productive day is that smart phone. It’s totally a helpful accessory but minutes and minutes a day disappear into the abyss when there’s one in your hand. Put it down, concentrate on your work and schedule time to check your socials, google those random questions and text your friends later. And for those who swear they hardly touch it-enable the screen time setting (on iPhone but others will have something similar) and it’ll speak for itself.
3. Spend your $ on efficiency and put some software in place to help you
There are no prizes in business for doing everything the hard way. No-one will be proud of you (or even notice) that you’ve hand-written every single enquiry email or manually done your books (does anyone do that these days?) so spend those hard earned $ on some technology to help. Online accounting, scheduling and project management software will save you valuable minutes on day to day tasks which you can put to good use somewhere else.
4. Get up 15 minutes earlier
Sounds simple right? There’s never enough time in the day and I don’t know many in small business who would turn down an extra 1 hour 45 minutes a week so set that alarm and let’s get doing!
5. Time yourself-tasks will generally take as long as you let them
Scheduled an hour for a meeting? You’ll find it’ll take that long, but allow only 45 minutes and I bet you find you’ll complete that same meeting in that time too. And if you’re really keen, put yourself on the clock and watch that to do list disappear. There’s nothing like keeping yourself accountable for your time and for that I use Time Doctor.
6. Take Breaks-eliminate the fog
It sounds counter-intuitive but trust me on this one. Take 5 minutes every hour or so, leave your desk, walk around, get some fresh air or a drink and come back renewed. It’s only 5 minutes but that little rest for your brain (and eyes!) will mean you can keep going much longer before you hit that inevitable 3pm slump. And when that moment arrives…luckily we have coffee!
7. Understand the value of your time and consider outsourcing where necessary
We all have things we’re good at and things we’re not. If it takes up 3 hours of your precious time to try and design a new logo for your business would you not be better off outsourcing? Think of all the things you could’ve been doing with that same 3 hours-enquiries replied to, invoices sent, staff organised-all money in the bank.
8. Stop Multi-tasking
Also counter-intuitive but research shows that switching between all the different things actually uses up a lot of your mental energy meaning you’ll tire and lack concentration earlier than if you’d just focussed on one thing at a time. Not to mention you’ll do a better job focussing on just the one thing…
9. Organise your office space and computer and your mind will follow
Ever spent 20 minutes looking for that lost bill or photo you knew you had somewhere? It goes without saying that getting (and staying organised) will save you time in the long run not to mention the frustration of not being able to find something! And you’ll want to go to work in that beautiful office space too.
10. Keep on top of things
There’s always something that keeps popping up on the to-do list and getting ignored. For me (and probably many others) it’s reconciling my books. Even though I use Xero which is about as user-friendly as they come, I just hate doing it. I put it off and put it off until it’s a massive task- a whole morning’s worth- which is intimidating and makes me put off doing it even more! Keeping on top of your tasks is the best way to stay productive in areas you know aren’t your forte. So you know you only have to put up with a little of what you don’t like.
At the end of the day you can spend your whole week trying to get everything done or you can focus, be productive and condense your tasks into only a proportion of that time leaving you the rest of your week to get ahead, enjoy yourself and maybe even squeeze in a little fun!