As a small business owner, finding enough time in the day to complete all your tasks can be a constant challenge. Especially with the added financial pressures we are all facing currently in the UK.
Here are Bytestart’s 20 productivity tips to help you accomplish more each day. We try to incorporate as many as possible into our own business lives, but even if you manage just one or two changes, it could make a lot of difference.
Wake Up Early and Energise
Waking up early ensures you have plenty of time to start your day off right. Begin with a healthy, protein-rich breakfast to provide energy and mental focus for hours. Avoid hitting the snooze button and listening to Nick Ferrari on LBC for too long!
Schedule exercise into each day, even if just 30 minutes. Exercising helps manage stress, releases endorphins and keeps your body healthy to power through long days. Take walks during breaks or go to the gym (if that’s your thing).
Tackle Top Priorities First
Know your 1-3 most important tasks for that day and do them first when your concentration is highest. Save less critical work like returning calls for later when your energy naturally dips. At Bytestart, for example, we do most of our writing early in the day.
Batch Similar Tasks
Group similar tasks together during specific times to maximize efficiency. For example, respond to all emails at 10am and 4pm rather than constantly throughout the day. Everyone has email on their smartphones now, so turn off ‘new email’ notifications.
Take Regular Breaks
Schedule short 10-15 minute breaks every couple of hours to recharge. Get up, move around, grab a snack or chat with a colleague (Or not if you’re a sole trader!). Breaks boost productivity tremendously. Don’t work hours nonstop.
Considering using freelancers to free up your time as the owner. For certain tasks, this can be incredible helpful – especially for things like administration, writing, coding, designing, and other types of work which can be down remotely, and digitally.
Set Daily Goals
Define 2-4 specific, achievable goals to accomplish each day. These provide clarity and give a sense of progress as you check items off your list one by one. Re-evaluate larger goals weekly.
Stay focused by minimising distractions during work hours. Silence phones, close extra browser tabs, don’t chat unnecessarily. Social media, texts and personal emails can wait. This tip is probably the hardest one to commit to – especially if you’re working from home!
Schedule Meetings Wisely
Prevent wasted time in pointless meetings. Consider short stand-up meetings when possible. Set a clear agenda and end time. Take notes and follow up on action items. Or – even better – make the most out of Zoom or Microsoft Teams whenever you can.
Leverage Productivity Tools
Listen to Upbeat Music
Play energising music playlists or interesting podcasts in the background while working to give your brain an extra productivity boost. Avoid noisy distractions though. Whether or not you can steam Spotify will depend massively on the type of business you’re running!
Have a clean, organised workspace with only essential items out. Too much clutter is visually distracting. File away or recycle papers and notes frequently. At Bytestart, this is one tip that never fails to help with productivity!
Work Remotely Occasionally (if you work at business premises)
If you work from an office or other type of business premises, work from home occasionally for projects requiring deep focus like strategy, planning or writing. Avoid commuting those days and eliminate office distractions.
Batch Process Email
Only check and respond to emails during certain times, like 10am, 2pm and 6pm. Avoid constantly having your concentration broken throughout the day. This is another tip that is very hard to keep up, but any type of email rationing will benefit most business owners.
Be Productive During Your Commute
If commuting via public transport, have productive time by catching up on reading, calls, emails or even meditating. Make the most of travel time. 4G is available almost everywhere, including on the London Underground.
Say No Respectfully
Don’t take on unnecessary tasks or meetings if you’re overloaded. Politely push back or recommend someone more suited. Know your limits and say no firmly.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
Focus on the 20% of activities that drive 80% of your results. Don’t get excessively caught up with lower priority tasks that take time but yield little reward. This is our favourite tip on the Bytestart team. It’s amazing how much time you can spend on very low productivity tasks, although sometimes this can’t be avoided (e.g. trying to call HMRC).
Take Screen Breaks
Look away from your screens regularly to give your eyes and mind a break. Do some offline tasks or take a short walk every hour or two. Staring at screens all day lowers productivity. It’s also bad for the eyes – obviously.
Make Time for Strategic Thinking
Don’t just work reactively all day. Schedule time for proactive strategic thinking, planning, forecasting and creative problem solving. This time investment pays dividends.
Maintain Work-Life Balance
Ensure you take time after work and on weekends for fun, relaxing activities. Burning the candle at both ends leads to exhaustion and diminishing returns at work.
We hope you find these ideas useful. We’re always keen to hear from other business owners. Email us anytime.
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