Did you know there are over 30 million small-sized businesses in the US and they account for more than 99% of all US businesses?
Even more astonishing than that number is the fact that despite being one of the major drivers of economic growth, more than 50% of small business owners still claim that finding qualified individuals to hire is one of their biggest challenges.
Due to this insufficiency of the quality workforce and the financial struggles that come with self-investing, most business owners often find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities and working on a tight schedule round the clock.
If that resembles a day in your life as well, here’s what you need to do: Instead of focusing on working more, focus on working productively.
It’s possible to be your own boss and still have a balanced work-life equation - you just need to learn how to work as the pros do. Here are six simple productivity habits that are guaranteed to help you optimize your output by 10x.
As cliche as this sounds, a to-do list or journal or even post-its can help you make the most of your day and make your life significantly less stressful. It’s hard to feel like you are on top of things when your tasks aren’t in order — just like it’s hard to work in a cluttered room.
Planning your task doesn’t have to be for just individual days. In fact, it’s recommended that you start with a high-level plan to achieve something and then break it down into smaller tasks and map it to a timeline. For example, you might start with a high-level goal such as ‘start social media marketing’. Once you research and find out how to achieve it, you can chalk out monthly, weekly, and daily goals that would then make up your tasks. This will not only help you quantify a vague goal, but also help you set small milestones and give a sense of accomplishment when you reach them. Your daily task might be something as simple as creating an Instagram account and sending out 25 follow requests. But it will feel good when you mark it off your to-do list.
It is also recommended that you plan your day during the previous evenings for a more systematic start to the day, especially when dealing with inventory. But even if you can’t, the more important thing is to make sure you plan it before you get caught up in the daily grind.
In fact, you can apply the same tip to organize your business as well. Having a prepared agenda or list of appointments for the day (printed via your online booking software) in advance would help you and your team start the day well-prepared.
Wearing multiple hats might seem fancy to most people, but for those who do it, it can be mentally draining — which in turn, hampers your productivity. A simple side effect of being the payroll manager, digital marketer, and cashier all at once can be that you won’t be able to perform any of those roles effectively.
In fact, context switching can kill up to 80% of your productivity. Add the constant interruptions due to daily operations or notifications to it, and sustained focus on any single task becomes impossible.
So, make sure to give yourself enough buffer time in between tasks to switch context. Or you might find yourself physically and mentally exhausted at the end of a day when you didn’t even get up for coffee.
Another thing you can do while planning your day is to ensure that you do not plan to do complex tasks consecutively. For example, if you have to review your PnL sheet for the month, and do a run-down of your weekly appointments on the same day, you can probably schedule a client interaction session in between to have some light conversation and socialize.
Most business owners refrain from delegating their tasks because losing control stresses them out. They’d rather do it on their own than deal with late execution, poor quality output, or the stress of explaining to someone what they did wrong.
But as most business gurus point out, if done right, delegating can significantly help take the load off your shoulders and allow you to focus on the more important things. Here are a few tips to make delegating easy:
Everyone today is about doing things faster and better — and there is a whole host of tools out there that can help you achieve that for free. If you have been skipping out on automation technology so far, it’s high time you start looking for tools and applications to make your life easier.
Find out which tasks in your daily to-do that are repetitive and can be automated. Once you figure that out, finding a tool would likely only require a quick Google search. From data storage to appointment scheduling, here are some key process that small businesses can automate:
While it might sound counterintuitive, taking breaks during your day, and off-time from work every once in a while actually helps increase your productivity. Studies have found that switching off your brain and focusing on doing things that you like reduces stress, helps maintain performance, and boosts your emotional willpower.
Our mind works like a muscle and just like you need rest days after heavy workouts, your brain also needs time to repair and recharge after a taxing day. While the entire concept of ‘hustling 24x7’ might make you want to listen to that audiobook during walks or address employee grievances during lunch, don’t do that! It might feel like you are getting more done, but in reality, your productivity takes a hit when you are doing nothing but thinking about work all day.
So stop feeling guilty about taking that holiday and go have some fun! You’ll definitely come back stress-free and motivated.
Nothing destroys productivity like the pursuit of perfection. People who try to get everything right the first time around, often get caught up in procrastination and this becomes the enemy of their productivity. Small business owners are often trying to wing it and take every day as it comes.
Their challenges are unique, so most of the time, textbook solutions don’t apply to their problems. And if the business owners get caught up in trying to perfectly implement something, they might never be successful. They keep delaying and waiting for the perfect moment to take action, leading to very little implementation.
If you ever find yourself in this loop, keep in mind that no one is looking. Even if you fail at something, you can try again and the next time, you’ll be much more experienced. After all, taking calculated risks and experimenting is the foundation of any successful business. So don’t forget that being productive every day will take you much farther than chasing perfection would.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.