Table of contents
Everyone wants to get more done during the day to feel some sense of accomplishment. And more and more, businesses need to show stakeholders measurable results that translate directly to the bottom line. That’s why it’s important to learn how to be more productive as a business owner.
Chances are, if you’re not performing as efficiently or effectively as possible, your company could be in jeopardy. Here are 11 simple ways to rethink how you spend your time and boost your productivity.
How to be more productive
1. Make your to-do list the night before
It may seem old-fashioned, but a to-do list works wonders for productivity.
Note what needs to be done the next day and then prioritize each task. Unexpected assignments and fire drills may creep in throughout the day, but once you take care of those, you can come right back to the list. This keeps you organized and focused, plus you have the satisfaction of crossing items off the list once they’re complete.
According to experts in cognition — such as Daniel J. Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload — mastering to-do lists has never been more important than in the digital era, when people are so prone to distraction.
[RELATED: Common Mistakes First-Time Managers Make]
2. Come early, stay late, or both
Peak productivity times are usually at the beginning and end of your day. We’re not telling you to work yourself silly, but the morning and evening hours when colleagues are gone can be the most productive times of the day, with no one bugging you for help or chatting your ear off about weekend plans.
Plus, sitting in rush hour only adds to daily frustrations — one thing you could do without.
3. Try focusing on one task at a time
Sure, our busy, demanding lives require multitasking, but psychologists say that trying to do too much at one time makes us lose focus, and the quality of our work can take a real hit.
To prevent feeling overwhelmed, try tackling one thing at a time and giving it all your attention.
4. Take a few quick breaks
Studies show that short breaks — making yourself a cup of tea, walking around the block, or going to get lunch — actually boost productivity by getting your blood flowing and enabling you to come back to the task at hand with a fresh set of eyes.
5. Eat right
That mocha latte or fries may be what you’re craving to get you through the day, but sugary foods are followed by an inevitable crash and fatty foods can make you feel sluggish, according to research in the Harvard Business Review.
Instead, pack lunches that are high in protein and fiber (brain food), and fill your snack drawer with things like homemade granola, nuts, and berries.
6. Make technology work for you
We’re lucky to live in an age when technology makes work life easier and more efficient, and you can benefit directly from hardware and software geared toward increasing productivity.
Cloud storage and collaborative applications like Asana can help employees manage projects and work flow. Remote access and mobile device connectivity are also no-brainers in today’s working world.
7. Adopt a do-it-now mentality
“I’ll do it later” mentality is the fastest way to feel overwhelmed and let self-discipline fall to the wayside. The things you constantly put off start to pile up and then you have a huge mound of tasks to check off your to-do list, leaving you stressed and your workflow highly disrupted. If something lands on your plate that you can execute in a few minutes, do it right away. You’ll be much better off for it.
8. Write down a plan of attack and hold yourself accountable
Productive people set goals. Just like you needed a business plan when you started your company, you need to outline a strategy with clear steps that help you achieve your goals.
People who set goals tend to be more satisfied than those who don’t set intentions, according to a study by Columbia Business School. “You’ll have new awareness of how your time is used or abused, invested or squandered, organized and controlled, or let flow about at random,” says Dan Kennedy, author of No B.S.: Time Management for Entrepreneurs. Some people even find that it helps to impose daily deadlines on themselves to make sure their work gets done.
9. Say no to too many meetings
Audit the way you spend your time. Some meetings are mandatory, but if they’re unusually long, unnecessary, or unproductive, they’re a huge time suck. According to research by Atlassian, the average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings.
Before saying yes to your next meeting, see if you can accomplish the same goals or tasks over phone or email instead.
10. Eliminate temptations and set yourself up for success
Out of sight, out of mind is a highly effective principle. Turn off social media. Keep your mobile phone in your bag or purse. In other words, make distractions less accessible and you’re more likely to stay focused.
11. Create a system of rewards
Remember that making a plan with zero wiggle room often results in failures and disappointments. We are human, after all.
Instead of creating a drill-sergeant-like regimen, work a rewards system into your success plan. For each report you finish, you earn a walk around the block. After you complete payroll duties, treat yourself to another coffee. Working toward these types of fun goals helps make you more productive and positively motivated.