You want to get everything you can out of each minute of every day. But could any of your habits be impacting your workday productivity? Small business owners and entrepreneurs can face many silent productivity actions that could drain hours of their time.
Here are a few of them, along with some tips about how they can be beaten.
- Not taking care of yourself
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you are really invested in the growth of your venture and will do what it takes to succeed. But can be a mistake to put the health of your company above your own wellbeing. Though you might feel like you’re a rock star the first few months that you work for 16 hours a day, it’s not sustainable in the longer term for most people.
Eventually, the lack of exercise, good nutrition and adequate sleep will catch up with you. You may find yourself making mistakes because you’re less focused, or working more slowly because you’re exhausted and burnt out. Health issues related to stress or poor diet and sleep habits might start cropping up, with the result that you need to take time off to rest or visit doctors.
So, work hard, but also look after yourself. Make time for exercise – after all, you may get some of your best ideas while you’re jogging or cycling. Get into the habit of sleeping eight hours a night. Take healthy snacks to work, so you don’t need to buy junk food. And if you pull an all-nighter when it’s financial year-end or to deliver an urgent proposal, take time out to recover afterwards.
- Unnecessary meetings
There are few worse productivity impacts than time-wasting meetings that could be dealt with in an email exchange, or that fail to achieve their purpose. It’s not always easy to avoid meetings but there are a few steps you can take to ensure that they are more productive.
Firstly, meetings tend to expand into the time allocated to them. Keep them brief – for example, propose a 20-minute telecon rather than an hour face-to-face meeting. Secondly, meetings can often lose focus. It’s wise to draw up an agenda and to encourage participants to stick to the topic. Thirdly, wrap up with an action plan, so that everyone knows what the outcome of the meeting was and what are next steps.
- Putting important work off until tomorrow
It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that you are being productive when you race through a lot of quick, easy tasks in the morning, such as checking your social media feed for customer feedback or competitor news or browsing the internet to research the next computer you will buy.
But all the while, you could be neglecting higher-value and more urgent tasks, such as compiling a complex sales presentation or connecting with customers and with employees. Small business owners should think carefully about whether they are using their time in the best way.
A tip: Many people find it best to, as the saying goes, start the day by eating a frog. It’s often more productive to focus on the most difficult and unpleasant tasks early in the morning while you’re fresh and your energy levels are high. Save the stuff that is more enjoyable or needs less concentration for the mid-afternoon slump.
Many entrepreneurs pride themselves on their ability to wear every hat in the business and keep a number of balls in the air at the same time. But multitasking can often end up reducing workday productivity because you’re more likely to make mistakes that you’ll later need to fix.
Plus, few people can genuinely multitask in the sense of doing two or more things well at the same time. Multitasking actually amounts to switching rapidly between multiple tasks. You could be switching between your email, an Excel worksheet where you are working out a quote, and a sales presentation.
Each time, you’ll need to change your mode of thinking and reorganise your thoughts, which can be less efficient than ticking one task off your list at a time.
Even if you come into the office with the best of intentions, if you’re tired, hungry and scattered it’s nearly impossible to do good work. Take care of yourself physically and mentally and create a workspace that’s conducive to workday productivity to be happier and help your venture grow.