As a small business owner, you juggle many tasks at once, so productivity is essential. Still, you might not realize how dramatically minor changes can improve the efficiency of your workflow.
We’ve gathered several suggestions you can start using almost immediately to help get things done faster.
Try These 8 Productivity Hacks for Busy Small Business Owners:
1. Set SMART, Process-Based Goals
The last self-help book you read might have discussed setting goals with the SMART system. It’s a widely-accepted practice of setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timeframe-based. By making sure your aspirations have those characteristics, you’ll be more likely to achieve the goals you set.
However, it’s not enough if the goals only exist in your head. It’s ideal to write them down and talk about them with a friend. 76 percent of people who did this achieved their goals, while only 43 percent succeeded with unwritten aspirations.
When coming up with new goals, keep in mind that process-based goals can be more fruitful than outcome-based ones. They encourage people to take small steps towards achievement every day. Outcome-driven goals could make you feel overwhelmed because they seem so far away and unattainable.
2. Get a Virtual Receptionist
Answering calls and talking to customers over the phone can take up a big chunk of your workday. Automating this task through a virtual receptionist can not only save you tons of time, but can also make a small business seem more significant and impressive to clients.
Data from one case study indicated using a virtual receptionist boosted staff efficiency by 21 percent. This could free up your employees to use their most valuable skills and not waste time figuring out phone systems or doubling as receptionists.
Even better, virtual receptionists are more affordable than hiring an in-house receptionist, so you can keep saving money even as you scale your operations.
3. Work in 90-Minute Blocks
You might be in the habit of working until you’ve reached the realization that continuing is counterproductive. That’s a common strategy, but it contradicts scientific findings.
Studies have shown that working in 90-minute segments is best for maximum productivity. This amount of time limits fatigue and allows recovery during the rest time. As a result, people keep their minds sharp and stress levels lower. Consider using a timer app or a feature on your watch to provide an audible cue once you’ve worked for an hour-and-a-half.
4. Have Standing Meetings and Group Work
Researchers have found that people who remain standing while in meetings and collaborate in a standing position instead of sitting down are more engaged than individuals who sit. The simple switch from seated sessions to ones where people stand up could lead to more productive gatherings. Plus, it should discourage people from getting long-winded when they realize colleagues are standing up and waiting for them to conclude a meeting.
When trying this practice, give employees notice about the new method of conducting meetings. Also, back up your announcement with the reasons why you’re using the technique; doing so gives validity to the action.
5. Stock the Breakroom With Healthy Snacks
Research from international health organizations shows the things employees eat could impact their productivity. Whole grains, raw carrots, blueberries and nuts are some of the readily-available snacks you could offer in the break room for employees to graze on throughout the day.
Don’t have time to go shopping? SnackNation delivers a variety of healthy snack options right to your office for as low as $249, including delivery and display case.
If the break room area has a whiteboard or bulletin board, consider using the board to highlight a statistic that enforces how certain healthy foods could help people get more done. Don’t forget to keep some of those foods in your personal workspace, too! Portion them into snack-sized plastic bags to make them easier to eat and discourage overindulgence.
6. Mute Your Gadget Notifications
Modern gadgets buzz, chime and ring throughout the day. Harvard researchers discovered that the notifications sent by tablets and phones break concentration and provide distractions. They also release dopamine in the brain, causing people to become addicted to receiving them.
Ready to commit to keeping devices muted but feeling hesitant about getting out of the loop? Maintain a schedule of checking them every hour and keeping them in a drawer the rest of the time. Storing them out of sight is crucial, so you don’t see the screens light up. An auto-responder message that sets expectations about when you’ll view and reply to incoming emails or texts should help, too.
7. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking seems like a great way to get things done, but productivity researcher John Medina realized multitasking could increase task completion time by 50 percent and cause people to make four times as many mistakes as they would while doing single tasks. To avoid multitasking, start firmly but politely letting individuals know about an existing schedule and emphasizing how it’s not possible to fit other duties into it.
8. Use Apps to Save Time and Become More Aware of Pitfalls
There are many apps designed to help small business owners save time. They often feature templates that cut down on repetitive work. It’s a good idea to explore using some of those and also use a time-tracking app that shows how you spend most of your time. However, be careful not to become too dependent.
A Penn State researcher found people were more productive when using a time-based app that showed the amount of unproductive time spent versus a similar application that displayed the percentage of productive work time. After investigating the websites and apps that take up the most time, you may decide they’re counterproductive and change your habits.
Several browser extensions limit or prohibit access to websites during specified periods. As far as apps, make a list of all the benefits associated with a particular one, along with its faults that cause frustration and make you waste time. Seeing the comparison on paper could offer the evidence you need to stop using apps or only rely on them during downtime.
Pump Up Your Productivity and Boost Your Business
All of these suggestions are quick to implement, so they don’t require a lot of effort if you’re a perpetually busy businessperson and already feeling swamped.
Even better, science supports them, which should help convince you if you’re a habitual skeptic. Try these techniques today to increase your productivity and better your workflow.
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