There are millions of articles out there that talk about boosting productivity. Thing is though, they tend to boil down to “exercise,” “sleep,” and “get up early.” While those tips will definitely increase your overall quality of life, tactical, concrete tips can be more applicable to your day-to-day business.
Accept Your Work Habits, Plan Accordingly
Chances are you have some work habits you’ve classified as “bad.” Take procrastination, for example. Most of us procrastinate in some way either actively or passively. It’s not that we’d rather open a new tab in our browser, glaze through Facebook or read the news… it just sort of happens sometimes. The truth is, though, many of us actually thrive the best when we’re under pressure. If you know this about yourself, you can plan accordingly. If a project is due in four days but you know that attempting to complete it today will be a futile effort, work on something else. Get to inbox zero. Organize your workspace. Better yet, get your bookkeeping up-to-date! Don’t force yourself to work on something that doesn’t have your full motivation. Doing so might lead to a lesser quality product. Whatever your “bad” work habit is, take the time to identify it and design a work-around rather than trying to change it.
Audit and Manage Your Time
This one is simply unavoidable. If you want to be productive, you have to learn to manage your time. This can be particularly challenging for freelancers and solopreneurs because they have no boss other than themselves. So how do you do it? Start out by inventorying your time using great free online tools like the app Rescue Time. After using it for a week or two, it will reveal where you’re spending most of your time (if you want to go even further in time tracking, be sure to buy the mobile app too). Once you’ve done that, you can begin utilizing additional tools like BlockSite so you don’t spend as much time on Buzzfeed quizzes when you’re supposed to be working.
Get In the Cloud
Want full time access to all of your company data no matter where you are or what computer you’re using? Then get thyself into the cloud. From accounting software to email to file storage, the cloud’s got you covered and can drastically improve your productivity. But think of it this way: we’re not saying the cloud can help you fill every idle moment in your day. (Sometimes idleness is a good thing!). From a productivity perspective, the cloud can help you knock out the small tasks you encounter day-to-day. Snap a picture of a business expense receipt with your smartphone. Reference a document from your cloud storage. Take a quick look at the last payroll report. The idea is that the cloud makes it easier for you to get the nitty gritty out of the way so you can focus on what you do best: running a great business.
Lump Your Calls
If you have a lot of recurring phone calls throughout your week, try lumping them all into one day. Yes, a series of back-to-back-to-back-to-back phone calls sounds daunting (and awful), but if you’re able to knock them all out in a single morning or afternoon, that reduces your obligations for the rest of the week, giving you nice big chunks of time to get actual work done.
Just about all of us are guilty of grabbing a bite on the go or eating at our desk while we work. Sometimes, that’s just the way it is. But most of the time, when we’re eating at our desk trying to “get a little work done,” we’re not as productive as we’d like to think. So do yourself a favor and carve off 30 minutes to eat, distraction free. You’re stomach and brain will thank you.
Set an Errand Time
Sometimes you have to go to the bank. Sometimes you have to go to the post office. The point is, there are lots of little trips solo business owners have to make. And while they may not feel like big commitments, they add up over time—especially if you’re having to drive to and from various locales. So instead, set a weekly “errands” time block on your calendar where you can knock them all out at once. That will reduce your overall time spend on business errands.
There are so many other tips to help your business productivity, but these three will create a firm foundation for you to expand on. And we don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t focus on health related productivity hacks, either: we just know these concrete tips will help your business grow. You still need to get plenty of sleep, exercise, and probably wake up early in the morning, too.