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5 Productivity Tips to Jumpstart Your Year
By Carie Ferg, Manta Editor – January 25, 2016
Feeling like you can’t keep up with the constant demands of running a small business? Make the most of your time with these productivity tips.
“Productivity” has been quite the business buzzword for some time now. Tim Ferriss evolved the idea of optimizing work-life balance to new levels in 2007 with his now-classic book “The Four-Hour Work Week.” “Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action,” he advised in the book.
And while all that slick talk about doing more with less may seem exclusive to the Silicon Valley set, there are applications for hard-working small business owners, too. Here are five easy-to-apply tips to help you minimize the fussy tasks in your business so you can refocus your efforts on big-picture strategies:
- Be proactive, not reactive, advised Lori Krolik, who has owned More Time For You, a professional organization and productivity service, for 20 years. By maintaining a calendar, as well as setting three to five priorities every day, you avoid “constantly reacting to other people’s priorities,” Krolik said. “Just because it seems important because someone is asking for it doesn’t mean that’s how you should be spending your time at that particular moment.”
- Delegate and outsource. (Control freaks listen up!) While it can be difficult to let go, it will help you focus on your strongest skills, which will ultimately benefit your business. “Take the time to explain tasks that you can offload. It might take you time up front, but it will save you a lot of time down the road,” said Krolik.For instance, if you’re not a marketing professional, consider hiring a pro to draft your marketing plan, said Bill Corbett Jr., president of Corbett Public Relations, Inc. Social media is another time-suck for small business owners and another good outsourcing candidate, he said. “Many small business owners and their teams have jumped into social media and are not doing it well—they are wasting time. If you’re using social media for fun, don’t let it take up too much time—time that should be spent doing other revenue-generating activities.”
- Reduce distractions. Corbett advised turning off notices on digital devices and your computer, using noise-cancelling headphones, and even putting mobile phones in another room and forwarding calls if necessary. “In the ADD society we live in, it is much harder to focus; many people have forgotten how or struggle to focus,” Corbett said. “Take the time to learn how to focus again; get in the zone where you can be productive.”
- Create processes and systems. While many small business owners keep what they’ve learned in their heads, it makes for a difficult hand-off should you decide to outsource or hire staff at some point in the future. “Start documenting and doing things systematically from the beginning, so when you’re ready to delegate, it’s way easier because there’s a process to it,” said Krolik.
- Leverage the cloud. Many small business owners are still inundated with paperwork. Moving that work to web-based platforms will help eliminate clutter and streamline processes, Krolik said. “They haven’t stepped back to figure out, ‘How can I make this better?’ Having more in the cloud protects your business on so many levels, as well as can save you physical space and money.”
For more productivity ideas, attend the Manta Expert webinar “Work Smarter, Not Harder: Productivity Hacks for the New Year.”