Your level of productivity determines your small business’ chances of survival. So, you must prioritize your performance and output to ensure your brand thrives and succeeds.
This article will cover effective ways to focus on boosting your productivity.
1. Effectively Manage Your Time and Your Employees’
Time management is one of the main productivity drivers, especially for small business owners.
Knowing how to organize and optimize your limited working hours helps you achieve more and save time.
But time management is a skill that you have to keep improving.
Thankfully, there are different techniques and methods that can help you manage your time. Let’s go through them.
A. Time Tracking
Time tracking involves using a time tracker to monitor how you and your workers spend your working hours. It helps you remove the stress of mundane processes such as calculating billable hours and creating timesheets, especially in remote work environments.
You can further use time tracking data to understand how productive you are so that you can create optimized schedules. This date also helps you manage remote work employees and how you assign tasks.
B. Identify and Eliminate Time Wasters
Time wasters are activities that don’t help you further your core business priorities. These activities include things like meetings, emails, and Internet browsing.
According to research by Rick Gilbert, as reported by CNBC, company executives maintain that more than 67% of meetings are failures.
So, take a hard look at your schedule and remove things that are not part of your priorities. You can schedule these tasks and activities for later after you’ve completed your most pressing tasks.
As for meetings, you can replace most of them with project reports, reminders, and announcements. Encourage your team members to schedule time slots for checking and responding to emails so they’re not interrupted while working.
C. Use Timeboxing to Structure Your Schedule
Timeboxing involves allocating specific time periods to tasks. For example, you can allocate two hours to creating a client’s estimated bill for an upcoming project.
This time management technique allows you to stay focused, block out distractions, and stick to deadlines.
You can also use this method to assign tasks. But since you won’t want to micromanage your workers, recommend it to them and integrate timeboxing into your brand’s work culture.
D. Work in Short Bursts of 25-Minute Cycles (The Pomodoro Technique)
Another time management technique worth using and teaching your team members is the Pomodoro technique.
The technique involves working within 25-minute cycles, called Pomodoros.
Each Pomodoro consists of a 25-minute work period followed by a 5-minute break. You can then take a longer 20-minute break after 4 Pomodoros.
This is another technique that increases focus and leads to higher productivity.
E. Find Your Productive Hours and Leverage them
Some hours are more productive than others, and these hours are different for everyone.
Identifying those periods when you’re energized to work and have more focus will help you bump up your performance. So, monitor how you execute tasks and find those hours during the day – or night – when you turn in the most jobs and are more efficient.
Once you find that you do more during a specific time of day, start adjusting your schedule so you can reserve those hours for jobs that are more demanding.
You can also use time tracking and project management data to identify each of your team members’ productive hours. Then, you can assign challenging tasks to those hours.
2. Kill the Urge to Micromanage
Many small business owners can’t resist the urge to control everything. They believe being involved in every small process is the best way to ensure efficiency.
This strategy mostly stems from the fear that others can’t execute ideas efficiently without supervision and a desire to maintain top-notch quality.
But that business practice is known to backfire and comes with many regrettable downsides.
Micromanagement impacts employee morale, fosters a toxic workplace, reduces productivity, and increases employee turnover.
According to a Trinity Solutions study published in Harry E. Chambers’ book My Way or the Highway:
- 85% of surveyed employees said micromanagement negatively affected their morale
- 69% said being micromanaged made them consider changing jobs
- 36% said they switched jobs
- 71% said micromanagement reduced their job performance and productivity levels
And as it turns out, employee turnover can kill a company financially. According to Gallup, US businesses lose a whopping $1 trillion to voluntary employee turnover annually. Imagine how much your business contributes to that cost whenever an employee leaves.
So, resist the urge to always micromanage your staff and team members. Focus on the results rather than the process and allow your workers the freedom to choose how they do things.
3. Encourage Communication
Your small business’ output depends on its communication culture to a large extent.
Communication allows you to find and reduce pitfalls, resolve issues in time, and boost productivity. It fosters collaboration and ensures there’s no gap in your business processes.
So, you must remove every roadblock obstructing communication between you and your team members. Encourage them to always reach out and update each other, and provide tools that make communication easier.
As a business owner, always make yourself available to listen and ensure your subordinates have access to all the information they need.
If you manage remote workers, you can boost communication by organizing regular virtual meetings and other team building activities.
4. Discourage Multitasking
Many professionals think that multitasking is beneficial because they’re doing multiple things at once. But facts suggest otherwise.
Studies have shown that multitaskers end up wasting time and producing low-quality work when they try to take on more than one task at once.
When you constantly have to switch between tasks in multiple successions, you’re wasting valuable time. You also won’t have the concentration required to pull off even non-complex tasks.
Consider a University of London study that looked at the cognitive effects of doing multiple things at once reported by CNN. The researcher, Dr Glenn Wilson, monitored each worker’s IQ throughout the day while they multitasked. He reported that they lost 10 IQ points as a result of doing multiple things at once.
So, ensure that you and your employees follow the practice of single-tasking. Always focus on one job at a time and execute it before moving on to the next thing. This way, you can avoid errors and boost efficiency, since you’re dedicating your full attention to one thing at a time.
5. Prioritize Tasks
You can’t be productive if you don’t prioritize tasks. You and your employees will end up achieving less after logging many work hours.
So, before assigning or handling tasks, make sure they’re ranked according to importance and urgency.
You can attach a level of priority to a task before sending it out to a team member.
While creating your personal schedule, make sure you arrange your tasks in such a way that you handle the most pressing and important ones first.
Use the Priority Matrix to Categorize Your Tasks
This method is also called the Eisenhower matrix. It gives you a clear procedure for allocating priority levels to tasks.
There are different priority categories, namely:
- Critical and urgent
- Critical and not urgent
- Not critical and urgent
- Not critical and not urgent
Critical (or important) tasks are relevant to your core priorities and should be prioritized. That said, tasks that are both critical and urgent (have a close deadline) should be handled immediately. You can schedule critical and not urgent tasks to be treated after you complete the urgent and important tasks.
You can delegate tasks that are urgent but not critical. They most likely don’t require your skillset.
Then, get rid of jobs that are not urgent and relevant to your project. If you have to do them, reserve them for when you’ve cleared your to-do list or when you feel less productive.
6. Leverage Technology for Everything
From process automation to streamlining your workflow, there are different tech solutions you can implement to boost productivity.
You can use a project management platform to track project progress, expenses, and employee productivity. You can also use it to streamline your workflow and collaborate with clients.
Email management systems help you automate your email processes and manage your email lists.
Other tools like file-sharing cloud solutions, accounting programs, and communication platforms will also help you take productivity to new highs.
7. Efficiently Manage Your Team’s Workload to Avoid Burnout
It is estimated that burnout costs the US 8% of its national healthcare spending. Burnout can also be traced to 120,000 deaths a year.
There’s no doubt that overworked employees take a toll on your downline and hurt revenue.
The only remedy is efficiently managing your team members’ workload to ensure they’re not taking on more than they can handle.
To do that, use your time tracking and project management data to see how many tasks each worker is currently doing. You can also monitor how many hours they have worked. This way, you can identify who’s overexerting themselves and get them the time off they need.
Productivity Affects Everything
Whether you’re presenting an idea or tracking your leads, how you handle each task and activity determines the outcome.
So, don’t forget to focus on one thing at a time, prioritize tasks, manage your time, communicate, and use the right technology. You should also collect feedback from your staff to optimize your work culture and specific processes.