Business owners put a lot of thought into maximizing the productivity of their operations. But they don’t always do the same for their own work habits. Here are 5 things you can do to make the best use of your time and energy.
1. Get a second monitor.
Studies show that having a second monitor for your desktop computer increases productivity by 20 to 30 percent. By allowing you to see two screens at once, it saves time on a variety of tasks such as:
- Data entry
- Viewing a large spreadsheet in its entirety without scrolling
- Side-by-side comparisons of products, artwork or spreadsheets
- Pulling information from one place to use in another, or drag and dropping images
- Having a chat window on one screen and your work on the other
Although the time difference may seem miniscule for each individual task, it can add up to 2.5 hours a day, according to a University of Utah study.
2. Use task management software.
How often do you lose track of your appointments, to-do lists and work schedules because they’re scattered through a variety of calendars and notebooks? The quick fix is to keep everything centrally located in one app. Many of them also let you share project information and discussions with your team. Some of the top rated apps right now are:
3. Reduce meeting times.
Probably the biggest productivity killer in the workplace today is the meeting. You know, the one that was supposed to take an hour and instead consumed the entire morning. Or the one where everyone talked in circles but decided nothing. Cut the time suck by:
- Eliminating non-essential meetings. Do you really need status updates more than once a week, or is the same information being repeated from one meeting to the next?
- Sending the team a pre-meeting brief and agenda. This eliminates time needed during the meeting itself to bring everyone up to speed.
- Setting a concrete goal. Vague statements like “We need to update our marketing plan” will lead to long, inconclusive discussions. For better results, be specific: “How to allocate our marketing budget for the next quarter.”
4. Stay on task.
It’s not true that multi-tasking is more efficient. It’s actually the opposite: nothing ever gets finished. Even worse, every time you’re distracted from your train of thought, you have to spend more time getting back into it — basically, doing the same work over and over without making progress.
Minimize distractions. Instead of answering phone calls and emails as they come in, set aside specific times of day when you’ll knock them out all at once.
5. Break down big projects into small ones.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed when faced with a massive task. However, if you divide it up into smaller sub-projects, it will seem more doable. Some ways to do this include:
- Plan steps in a time sequence. For example, if you’re building a house, you must first lay the foundation, then put up the framework, and so on.
- Put tasks in order of importance. When you’re building that house and you see rain coming, your top priority might be to get the roof on.
- Delegate sub-projects to team members. For the house you’re building, you might use carpenters, electricians, plumbers, interior decorators and so on.
These 5 habits of highly productive small business owners will not only make your own workday both easier and more effective, they will also improve the productivity of your entire team. That’s what we call a win-win!