By Ashley Laabs
There’s a lot of great advice in the world, and most business owners would probably take it if they just had time in their day. Distractions and interruptions happen until, suddenly, another day has passed by without a single check off your to-do list – let alone that neglected pile of ideas you’d like to implement someday.
We may never be robotic productivity machines, but these productivity hacks can bridge the gap between your goals and reality:
MAKE CLEARER GOALS
Hopefully you have some annual and monthly goals for your business, but do you have the daily and weekly goals in place to get you there? Often the problem with goals is that they aren’t clear. If your goal is to revamp your pricing and include a new EFT program, that’s not something you’re going to do over a cup of coffee, so it won’t do you much good to slap it on your afternoon tasks. Instead, break down the steps of your goal into digestible parts that you can devote an hour or two toward.
When you take the time to break down your goals, it’s easy to find the more manageable tasks within it, each of which is much more appropriate in scope to be handled in a chunk of time. By focusing on clear goals, you’ll spend less time overwhelmed with where to begin, and more time accomplishing great things.
BUDGET YOUR TIME
In order to maximize your productivity, you have to walk the line between planning and flexibility. A great way to make the most of your time is to budget your time like you would your money. If you overcommit your time with a list of tasks that take longer than you have in a day, you’re likely to find yourself disappointed by the small dent you’ve made in your to-do list. Essentially, you’re setting yourself up to fail, which can have a very serious impact on your productivity and outlook over time.
Know about how long each task should take you, and pad in a little extra time just in case, especially in situations where there is a lot of prep work. You wouldn’t spend part of your lease money on marketing materials, so don’t spend your task time indulging your interruptions or distractions. If an employee needs you with a non-urgent matter, let them know when you will be available to speak with them. If something is on your mind, write it down on a separate piece of paper and return to your task at hand. Set a timer if you need help staying on track. At the same time, flexibility is necessary in a small business, so it will be necessary in your schedule too. Having open office hours to handle employee inquiries and general correspondence can help you take care of many small items at once, instead of allowing them to interrupt your workflow throughout the day.
EAT THE FROG
In the words of Mark Twain, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Get the worst over with first to find yourself full of accomplishment and freedom.
There’s probably at least one item on your plate that has been pushed off for days, weeks, even months. Whether it’s taxes or creating a marketing plan, it’s easy to find something else to do instead, all the while swallowing that lump of guilt and dread for that big thing you’re not doing. At this point, hopefully you’ve broken down the steps and estimated how long they are going to take, but now you need to do the hardest one first. Instead of spending your day calculating exactly how long you can put off your most daunting task, just get it over with! It’s such a simple thing, but it will make a huge impact on what you get done and how you feel about it.