Running a small business calls for a person who can wear many hats throughout the day. Not only are you managing day-to-day operations, but you’re in charge of long-term strategies and being the gatekeeper of your brand. The constant hustle can make it seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Organizing and prioritizing are a necessity, and entrepreneurs across the board say these 10 things will help keep you productive.
1. Define a Clear Objective for Your Day
Of course as a small business owner you will be tackling several tasks each day, but going in with the mindset of “Today I will…” can provide focus and places emphasis on the certain thing you feel is most important. Each night follow up your statement with “Today, I accomplished…” and fill in the blank. This technique will keep you on the path of realizing your ultimate goals as a business owner, and make certain that those tasks will be completed.
2. Create a Schedule for Each Day
One of the common pitfalls is taking on the quickest, easiest tasks first. By the time you’ve finished three or four “quick” things, they’ve added up and taken a lot of time away from the bigger, more daunting tasks. Doing this causes the more challenging objectives to become rushed and potentially lose quality. Maintaining a consistent schedule eliminates this by forcing you to really pay attention to how much time you spend on each project, down to the hour. An added bonus is that allotting time to each task helps with prioritizing.
3. Write it Down
Physical checklists give you a real representation of your workload, and the reward of crossing off each item motivates you to start on the next. Sometimes just having an organized visual helps focus, rather trying to mentally keep track of your day.
4. Prioritize for the Unexpected
Every day something will come up, it can be a huge, pressing issue or something small. Both will affect your day-to-day in different ways. Be sure to know which tasks on your list can be pushed back to tomorrow and which can’t and adjust accordingly.
5. Don’t Let Email Rule Your Day
You have your phone number in your signature for a reason. If there is a pressing issue that needs immediate attention, there will be a way to reach you. Leaving your email open is a potential for constant distraction on your screen. Checking your email at regular intervals throughout the day eliminates this, and ensures an email doesn’t interrupt something much more important.
6. Give Your Mind a Break from Business
If you focus on your business 24/7 it won’t be long before you’re completely burnt out. Have something else you’re doing to give your mind time to relax and recharge. For some this could be a hobby or projects around the house, figure out what that one thing is for you.
7. Get Rid of the Clutter
It may be a sign of a creative mind, but it also detracts from productivity and increases stress. Figure out what needs to be physical and what you can keep digitally, a scanner aids in the process tremendously. What you do need in physical form should be kept neatly and organized.
8. Don’t Live in Your Conference Room
You should always have open communication with your clients, buyers, partners, etc. Think about when you should have a formal meeting, and when a phone call in another room will suffice. Staying out of the conference room keeps you available to complete other tasks.
9. Stay Positive and Try to Have Fun
You own your business, and even in the most stressful of times, it is important to think of the benefits. You dress how you want to, you don’t have to work for a shady boss, and you don’t have to worry about job security. Getting angry or upset distracts from focus and can lead to shoddy work. Be serious about your objectives but try to complete them in a way that is fun; being eternally somber can lead to burning out and can hugely take away from productivity.
10. Learn to Grow from Failure
There will always be some sort of trial and error is business. Figuring out what doesn’t work is the first step towards finding out what does. Don’t harp on something that didn’t go exactly as planned, some things don’t work and that is OK. Learn to apply that lesson to future strategies. Forward thinking each day is key for staying productive.