When running your own business, you are the only person holding yourself accountable. The decision is yours each day to put off a project or work a 12-hour day, but there’s a fine line between productivity and burnout. Here are five productivity tips that can be applied to any small business, regardless of the industry you’re in.
First thing’s first: How are you spending your time? Are you putting in long hours at the office and missing bedtime with the kids? It’s so important that you find the work-life balance that suits you personally and professionally; otherwise, productivity is bound to decline. You may be the boss, but you don’t have to control everything. Delegate tasks to others, and take steps to ensure that the time spent working is worth your while. For example, every meeting should have a clear agenda, or it shouldn’t be happening. If everything that needs to be said can be said in an email, then there is no need for a formal gathering. And unless there is a looming deadline, it – whatever it is – can wait until tomorrow.
Resist the Urge to be Overambitious
It’s easy to get excited about every opportunity that comes your way, especially during periods of growth. However, your business is about delivering quality, not quantity. Providing mediocre service to 50 people will hinder any forward movement, but providing excellent service to 20 people will improve your chances of steady growth over longer periods of time. Set realistic goals, and don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say no to opportunities that don’t fit your mission, and direct your resources to what’s important.
Schedule Regular Breaks
Productivity stems from a fresh mind, and sometimes you need a shift in perspective in the middle of the workday. Taking regular breaks keeps your energy going, and however you spend those breaks is completely up to you. A quick walk to get yourself moving can make a dramatic difference, and snacks can keep you satisfied and nourished between meals. Many professionals even recommend meditation to stay focused throughout the day. It’s important to schedule these breaks so that your time away from work doesn’t get forgotten. You don’t want to be burned out by lunch time.
It may feel productive to do more than one task at a time, but it’s been shown that doing so takes up more of your time. Your mind is more scattered, and it’s much more difficult to perform every task well. You’re more likely to finish a task to the best of your ability when you are focused on a single project. If you find that you get distracted in the afternoon, schedule your easy tasks for later in the day, and tackle the harder projects first thing in the morning. Understanding when you’re most productive will help you avoid having to tackle more than one thing on your to-do list.
If something can be done with fewer resources, make it happen. Use project management tools to keep everyone in your team aware of what needs to be done, and regularly share information. Even something as essential as negotiating a contract can take precious time away from other tasks, but it must be done. By identifying processes that can be streamlined or automated, you can save yourself a lot of headaches.
Staying productive doesn’t mean working until the job is done. There’s a delicate balance between spending enough time at the office and spending quality time with your family. Saving yourself time and energy pays off in more ways than one, and there’s no reason to work harder than you have to. With these productivity tips, you’re more likely to find success both professionally and personally.
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