When you run your own business, good productivity can be the difference between success and failure. So much of the onus is on you to work efficiently in order for things to get done. But that is easier said than done. You need to know how to be more productive, but you want tips that you can put in place now. Not ones that take a long time to prove their worth.
This article explores a host of quick wins in the form of productivity tips. You will be able to finish this article and then put some or all of them into action immediately.
Whether you feel like you never properly complete a task without attempting to take on at least two others or you get to the end of the day and still have the lion’s share of your to-do list left unticked, this article will help you achieve more and even save you some time.
What is Productivity?
Productivity is the measure of how much you produce in a certain period of time. You can use productivity as a metric to measure how effective your business is. For example, if your factory produces 10,000 biscuits a working day and then you implement some measures to improve productivity, you might find you produce 15,000 biscuits in the same timeframe and with the same number of employees. In this case, you have increased your productivity.
For small, office-based or service businesses, measuring productivity isn’t quite as simple. But the principle is the same. You attempt to get more done in the same, or an even shorter, timeframe.
Tips on How to Be More Productive
Here are the productivity hacks that you need to know about.
The Pomodoro Technique
Do you work better when there is a deadline looming? A lot of us do and there is a good reason for it. When you have an open task, there is no urgency to knuckle down and complete it. This leaves you more open to distractions, sometimes work-related and sometimes not.
As an entrepreneur, much of your work will not come with a tight deadline. Admin, chasing up leads, working on your website or social media. They are all important jobs that need completing, but often it is not like there is a hard end date on when you need to deliver.
This is where the pomodoro technique comes in. You set a timer for 25 minutes and then work intensely until it goes off. You then take a five minute break before launching into another 25 minutes of work. These 25-minute periods are called pomodoros, and after four of them, you take a slightly longer break of up to 20 minutes and start the process again.
The idea is that you are conscious that you add some urgency to your work. You only have 25 minutes until you stop. This focuses you on the task at hand, reducing your opportunities for distraction. You are also less tempted to check your phone, for example, as you know that you will have a five minute break soon to scroll through Instagram whilst you have a cup of tea.
The Two-Minute Rule
Another example of how to be more productive is to implement the two-minute rule. This targets those small tasks that sometimes distract you in the middle of doing something bigger.
If it really is a small job and you can complete it and tick it off quickly, that’s fine. But often we launch into things that take us away from the momentum we had with the larger task.
The two-minute rule requires that you look at every little job that comes in and make a judgement. If you can complete it in less than two minutes, then you are fine to break off and do it. If it would take any longer, forget about it and add it to your to-do list for another time.
Completing tasks releases endorphins that make us feel good. So taking on and completing tiny jobs in less than two minutes is great for us. If they take much longer then you end up with multiple part-completed tasks and that can increase stress levels.
Break Tasks Up Into Their Components
Following on from the point about endorphins, breaking your tasks up into easier wins will help make everything seem more achievable and bring you joy.
Rather than setting yourself a task named simply ‘social media’, break it into steps such as ‘research social media calendar’, ‘write captions’, ‘create graphics’ and ‘schedule socials’. It is the same job, but you reach those triumphant completion moments more quickly.
It can seem like a slog when the task at hand is too large and that demotivates you and leaves you more open to distraction. When you know completing a task is an achievable distance away, you are more focused on it. Although the work involved is the same, you might find that you complete it more quickly, as you are more focused on each stage.
Detach and Reattach
Small business owners and entrepreneurs are naturally married to their work and that is understandable. However, it can also be to the detriment of productivity. If you never switch off, you can grow resentful of your business and worn down by the tasks at hand.
Being able to detach at the end of the day and reattach in the morning allows you to feel like you are something other than a business owner. It helps you rest, indulge in self-care and refresh yourself before launching back into work the next day. Work should be an enjoyable part of your life and the way to keep it that way is to step away for at least a few hours every day.
This mindset will mean that you return to your desk ready and revitalised, rather than jaded. It is easier to handle pressure and stress when you are rested too. As a supporter of Mind, the mental health charity, we are keen to promote this attitude to work. You have to look after your mental health for your own good as well as for your productivity at work.
Need Help With Productivity?
Although it is good to detach from work, many small business owners feel guilty doing so. This is why outsourcing tasks to a virtual assistant is key. If you are wondering how to be more productive when you are taking time away from your desk, the answer is to allow a VA to look after those tasks that don’t need you specifically to complete them and which might otherwise skew your work-life balance. Book a free consultation now to find out how we can help.