Being a small-business owner involves wearing many hats—and while being involved in all aspects of your company can be rewarding, it can also take its toll on your productivity. Here’s how to save time and get more out of your workday:
Show your inbox who’s boss
A cluttered inbox makes it difficult to tell which emails need a response and which have already been dealt with. It’s also demoralizing, and can make you feel disorganized and overwhelmed each time you have to look at it. Hubspot’s guide to Inbox Zero is specifically for executives and entrepreneurs, and has some great tips on setting up.
How much of internal communication really needs recording? Switch your team to an instant messenger like Slack, and—after the novelty of sending cat gifs has worn off—enjoy a quieter inbox and your new ability to organizing discussions around topics. You can even create a channel for casual chat to save time wasted at the water cooler.
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Stay off social
Are you a compulsive phone-checker? Chances are you’ve carried that habit over into your professional life. But realistically, if your business is small enough not to need a dedicated social media manager, then it’s small enough that you don’t need to be checking your Page notifications every five seconds.
If you’re worried you’ll miss something, set up email alerts so you’ll be notified if anybody tries to get in touch. Schedule your posts ahead of time, and you can avoid getting sucked into the black hole of social media entirely.
Stop chasing information
Why seek out information online when there are tools that bring it directly to you?
- Google Alerts and Mention will both notify you by email if your brand is mentioned online
- IFTTT connects the products and services you use every day—from Google Drive to Spotify—so you can automate just about anything
- Feedly brings all your favorite news sources and blogs together, making content curation quick and easy
Get feedback on feedback
Too much feedback is overwhelming and time-consuming. Not enough can leave employees feeling lost and uncertain. Everybody is different, so you’ll need to ask employees one-on-one how they’d prefer to be evaluated—and how often.
Strongly encourage lunch breaks
Leaving the office at lunch-time is a great opportunity to refocus. Employees that eat at their desks are often less productive in the afternoon—and while you can’t lock people out the building and demand they walk to Starbucks, you can let them know that taking a break is encouraged. Some employees may think they’re proving their dedication by working at lunchtime, but really they’re doing nobody any favors.
Strike the right balance with time management
Knowing how long your employees are spending on things is helpful for evaluating the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of a task, but asking employees to account for each minute is counterproductive—one, it can make them feel pressured to perform, and two, tracking time takes time.
Dedicate time to innovation
It might seem like you don’t have time, but researching methods of improving business practices is essential to your company’s evolution. Valuing growth and embracing innovation can also be an effective way to manage risk, and can help you feel more in control of your brand’s trajectory.
Implement a quality management system
When your processes are consistent for each project, it becomes much easier to identify and eliminate problem areas. Quality management systems like the ISO 9001 not only streamline the way you work, but they also show your customers and clients that you mean business. In turn, this can increase profits, save money, and standardize your management and other operations in a way that makes sense to your brand.
Make time for personal development
Prioritize personal development and watch your confidence grow as you learn new skills. While this won’t immediately save you time, it’s always easier to complete a task when you know how — so long-term, it’s a great strategy. Even half an hour a week is enough to make a difference. A few suggestions:
- Read books by industry thought-leaders. These are usually broken down into short chapters, so they’re perfect for busy professionals
- Attend a webinar
- Keep up-to-date with industry news
- Brush up on your Google Analytics knowledge
- Work through a Code Academy course (free, and you can dip in and out)
- Get coffee with another small business owner
- Share thoughts on LinkedIn Pulse
The more confident, engaged and knowledgeable you are, the more efficient you’ll be — but it’s also important to be kind to yourself on unproductive days. Do what you can, and don’t worry about the rest. Your mind and body will thank you!
What are your secrets to getting more done? Share them in the comments!
Author: Lily Bradic is Content & Engagement Strategist at award-winning digital agency Selesti.