Do you have a million brilliant ideas for your business but no time to implement them? Are you feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work you need to do and too thinly spread to do much about it? Are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or even close to burnout? Are you looking for some key productivity tips to be able to use your time more effectively and get more done to achieve your goals?
As a business owner, your job is complex with more layers than an onion and just as likely to make your eyes water!
Every day you’ll be thinking about at least 6 key areas; the day-to-day running, development opportunities, customer relations, employee management, marketing strategies, and finances.
There’s no denying that’s a lot of work for one person and no wonder you might be feeling overwhelmed! But there are ways to reduce your stress and increase your productivity.
Great business owners are masters at using their time in the best possible way for optimum productivity.
Productivity is key to succeeding in business and achieving your goals. It doesn’t happen magically though and to be productive you need to be prepared.
Using well-established productivity tips will help you to become better focused, more efficient and reach your targets quicker.
Why Productivity Matters
Productivity matters as it is the primary source of growth for business. When you work in a productive way you are more efficient.
When you’re busy it may feel like you are working flat out and getting loads done but are you being productive?
Being busy and being productive are two very different things.
Being busy often involves flitting from one task to another frantically in order to get it done as quickly as possible before moving on to the next. This often causes avoidable mistakes and the need to repeat the process. A waste of your already precious time and lack of productive progress.
Working in a productive way saves your time. When you work productively you are purposeful in what you do and your work is more focused, methodical and accurate. This in turn means fewer avoidable mistakes and time taken to correct them freeing you up to do something else.
The Cost Of Poor Productivity
As a business owner, you want to be a great leader for your team. Someone they look up to and feel confident to follow. Not in a Lemming type way but as someone they aspire to be like. Confident in your abilities and eager to absorb your knowledge and perform the best they can to benefit your business.
Struggling with poor productivity can make you feel like a busy fool. You’ll feel like you’re treading water and not getting anywhere. Constantly putting out little fires and never finding the source. It will leave you feeling burnt out, stressed and overwhelmed. Questioning your own abilities, capabilities and competence.
But you’re no fool and improving your productivity is easy with these 5 tried and tested productivity tips…
1. Sharpen Your Axe
Prepare yourself to be productive.
“If I had 6 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 4 hours sharpening my axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.
Using a blunt axe to chop down a tree is going to be a laborious task. Far more hard work than it should be and a huge waste of time and energy, and mess! But if the axe is sharpened first, and throughout, the tree will fall sooner with less effort and a cleaner cut.
In order for anything to work at its best it needs to be maintained and to prepare yourself for greater productivity it’s important you look after yourself. Your body and mind work better when they’re hydrated, well-fed with the right nutrients, kept fit, and well-rested.
Preparing yourself to be productive will help you to feel less stressed and overwhelmed in order to be a better leader.
You will not be able to scale, grow and develop your business if you try to do everything yourself.
Delegating tasks may not come naturally or feel right at first. After all this is your business that you’ve invested a lot in and you might feel it’s less risky for you to just get on and do it. But to be a great leader you have to delegate and make the shift from doing to leading.
But more so delegate to great people – something I call delegreating.
Have faith in your team. After all, you’ve taken the time and effort to find and hire people you believe are right for your business and have the knowledge and skills you were looking for so use them. Your employees are a valuable and capable resource. If they are not change them!
If you don’t delegate you risk becoming overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work you have to complete. You don’t have to delegate everything. It’s important that some tasks are still completed by you as the business owner but even delegating irregular tasks from your busy schedule will help lighten your load.
3. Say No
Set your boundaries and stick to them.
Have you ever found yourself in a meeting with a sales representative knowing full well from the offset you won’t be making a purchase because the product is wrong for your business? Missed dinner with friends or putting your kids to bed because you’ve agreed to an out of hours meeting as the other person couldn’t make it during the working day?
It’s too easy to find yourself saying yes to things you later find yourself wishing you hadn’t agreed to. Usually, you’ll automatically say yes as you don’t want to come across as rude, unhelpful, or arrogant.
Unfortunately, there are people out there referred to as time vampires. A person who literally sucks away your time. They become reliant on you and your time to satisfy their own needs, often distracting you time and time again for trivial reasons.
Respectfully saying no to persistent unnecessary requests will positively impact your ability to get your own work done and be productive.
You may worry that starting to say no to things now is too late but it’s really not. You need to protect your own time by prioritising what matters to you and your business. And it doesn’t have to be a flat out no. You could explain you’re busy but will be happy to help once all your tasks are complete if required, but only if your time permits.
4. Personalise Your Schedule
Work out when you are at your most productive.
Everyone is an individual and when looking at productivity some will be at their optimum performance levels in the morning whereas others may take time to warm up and work better later in the day.
Take time to identify when you feel most energised doing specific tasks and organise your schedule according to when you are at your best. I call these your ‘energy hours’. It’s often best to do the things you least want to do or find most taxing in the energy hours. For example, your brain might have a boost of focus following some nutrition and invigorating walk around the block so book in jobs that require more detailed attention post-lunch.
Whether you’re ploughing your way through daily tasks or have a deadline looming, setting a Productivity Schedule will help you to prepare in a concentrated and focused manner, reducing stress and ultimately leading to better results.
5. Absolute Clarity
It’s essential as a business leader that you have absolute clarity on your goals.
If you don’t have clarity on where you are going and how you’re going to get there you won’t be productive as you won’t be committed or know with certainty that what you are doing will get you to your end goal. This leads to becoming easily distracted and veering off route or worse, bright shiny object syndrome!
One of the key things I work on with my clients is helping them to become clear on their North Star (their absolute, dream life goals) and how they are going to get there. Much like a Sat Nav you need to plan a clear route to get you from A to B in the most time efficient way by preempting and navigating around any obstacles.
Total task transparency is imperative to setting out a clear plan of action for maximum productivity.
Make A Plan To Be Productive
Using these productivity tips will help you to become less overwhelmed and more productive.
To start with, take time to understand exactly what needs to be done. Identify what you need to do and what you can do to make things easier for yourself. Don’t be afraid to delegate to your team. They are there to support you and your business.
It’s important to prepare your own workload in a clear and focused manner. Plan how each task will be completed and make yourself a Productivity Schedule based upon when you feel you will do each job at your best performance level.
Try not to get distracted by other people demanding your time. Set your boundaries and stick to them to protect your own time.
Maximise Your Brain Power, Productivity, And Performance
If reading these productivity tips has left you feeling empowered to make changes and make more progress, listen to my previous podcast for more productivity tips…
Until next time…make it happen.