Running a business is hard. There is a never-ending list of tasks you need to complete. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day. That’s a big problem because trying to do everything will leave you overwhelmed.
You need to maximize your output.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to supercharge the productivity output of your business. Here’s a helpful set of productivity tips you can try out right away, giving you better control and planning of your and your team’s work-related tasks.
Let’s get started.
1. One task at a time
Overloading both yourself and your workforce with competing pieces of work, deadlines and projects doesn't do anybody any good and leads to high levels of stress and confusion.
Despite some people boasting that they can multitask, science doesn't back up their claims. One study on productivity conducted by the Cleveland Clinic showed that only 2.5% of people could multitask effectively, making them the vast minority. Multitasking can also hinder performance rather than aid it, making your employees less efficient.
Instead of getting your team to multitask, try advising them to write to-do lists instead, prioritizing the critical tasks first but making sure that everything gets done in its own time. To foster performance, reinforce the importance of finishing one task properly before moving on to the next. Also, don't forget to organize files on your device and work desk, as a clean work environment has a positive impact on productivity.
Productivity tips should nudge workers into a more efficient direction, benefiting the operation of your small business. But, of course, productivity tips are just the tip of the iceberg if you want to give your small business a boost.
2. Improve collaboration within teams
Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say! With this in mind, it's always a good idea to streamline your small team's sharing and collaboration processes for everyone's benefit.
One easy way to action this enhanced level of collaboration is by investing in software that does a lot of your hard work. Examples include instant messaging software (Microsoft Teams has an excellent 'chat' function) and reliable access to documents that can be edited in real-time (such as Google Sheets and Google Docs). You can also roll out reliable video conferencing software for remote workers or self-isolating staff (MS Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom all work well).
Collaboration doesn't just increase productivity levels; it also increases staff satisfaction levels. A study by Queens University of Charlotte showed that 75% of employers rated teamwork and collaboration as 'very important', yet only 18% of employees receive communication evaluations during performance reviews.
Don't become the latter statistic, and invest in the right tech for your team. For example, have systems in place for remote workers while still ensuring collaboration is as smooth a process as possible. These productivity tips will benefit your small business in the short, medium, and long term and are one small part of the overall plan to set SMART business goals.
3. Try automation
Many people seem to think that automation means replacing your entire workforce with robots. Instead, there are some excellent automation tools out there nowadays that can do all the tedious jobs while your workforce gets on with the important stuff, such as lead generation.
Scheduling social media marketing posts and collating expense reports are examples of tasks that particular software can easily handle. Workforce management systems such as Asana or Slack can make it easy to schedule jobs and keep everyone on the same page with timetabling and necessary files for projects.
Technology can be a wonderful thing, and when used in the right way, it can transform the productivity of your business in a few simple steps.
4. Avoid distractions
As humans, we're not so great at focusing on tasks for hours at a time. Repeated studies have highlighted just how much most people struggle to concentrate in meetings for an extended period of time.
With this in mind, it's all too easy to allow distractions in the workplace to keep your team from getting the job done. We’re not saying that you need to implement draconian measures such as locking your workforce in a room, but a few productivity tips here and there make a difference.
For instance, try restricting emailing only to be done at specific parts of the day, such as first or last thing - this way, everyone can forget about emails in the middle of the workday. Likewise, restricting access to social media could make a difference, reducing the number of pointless team meetings.
Meetings that aren't relevant to everyone can cause some workers to lose focus, allowing them to slip into bad habits concerning their concentration span. So instead, try having just one meeting a day, at the same time - this way, the essential details are ironed out, leaving the rest of the day for individual tasks.
According to a study performed by Udemy and Toluna, the number one most annoying office distraction was chatty co-workers! Think of ways around this by having a word with some of the noisier members of your team. You may also place them in different rooms.
Cutting down on office noise is also a key consideration to make. Why not schedule in ‘quiet hours’ where everyone agrees to work silently for a specific period. If they're correctly adhered to, focus sessions like these could be the most productive times of the day.
Try a few different ideas out and see which productivity tips work best for your particular team.
5. Manage your time well
Time management is key to completing tasks effectively, no matter which sector of work you are involved in. Using workflow software such as Asana will help streamline the tasks people need to do at your company. Furthermore, these days many companies, remote or local, are using a clock in clock out app of some sort. Time tracking software can help you and your team stay on track, such apps can be used to obtain data on how working hours are being spent, you can also generate productivity reports, track attendance online and see how productive each team member is. But to get the most out of these tools, there are productivity best practices you can implement within your team.
For example, you can use the Pomodoro Technique in your workplace. An effective time-management system first created in the 1980s by Italian Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique (named after the Italian for tomato), can be executed in six easy steps.
- Choose the work project you need to complete.
- Set a timer for between 25 and 30 minutes, and start work.
- After the timer buzzes, take a two to three-minute break.
- Repeat steps two and three.
- After four sessions, take a more extended break.
- Finally, record each completed work session with a tick or checkmark in a list format.
This technique is best for specific tasks, such as writing or coding, and for tedious, repetitive tasks where the concentration can quickly wane.
The Pomodoro Technique teaches you discipline, the importance of taking regular breaks, and a more comprehensive understanding of managing your time effectively. Researcher Jonathan Schooler discovered in 2007 that the average mind wanders 15 to 20% of the time, so mandating regular breaks helps with this.
Consider implementing the Pomodoro Technique with your colleagues for a trial period of a month or so, and record the results in productivity levels and time management. You can also experiment with different working patterns. For example, a rotating sift pattern is one approach that can boost productivity levels.
6. Create a favorable workspace
Messy and uncomfortable workstations make for unhappy workers. On the other hand, your workers need an efficient workspace to carry out their jobs effectively, so consider investing in equipment that suits each worker and their specific requirements.
For staff that work with many figures (bookkeepers, for example), a second monitor will help them be more productive with spreadsheets. Remote workers like digital marketers need access to a strong internet connection and a computer with a webcam for video calls. Meanwhile, graphic designers need specialist drawing software and tools such as a stylus.
Try sitting down with each employee and asking them what they need to make them feel more productive, budgeting what they ask for, and see if you can put those steps into practice.
While employees state their preferences, you should be up to aligning those with labor cost percentage.
7. Set realistic goals
It is essential to set you and your team realistic goals as a small business. Break down big jobs into achievable daily chunks rather than bombarding your employees with tasks that overwhelm them. This way, everyone is on the same page and feels like they are working steadily towards the desired outcome, rather than feeling swamped.
Start by setting out the desirable outcome of a job, and then work backward, breaking the result down into small, achievable jobs that contribute towards the end goal.
This approach makes everyone aware of what needs doing and when and ensures a smooth process towards completing the big job on time. Planning is everything, especially in a small business that may not access the same resources that larger companies have.
Performance improvements are critical to the continued success and growth of any business. However, just because yours is a small business doesn't mean you should find it harder than large corporations.
Research has shown that small businesses can be more resourceful and efficient than larger ones, so use your small size to your advantage when setting realistic goals.
Take these productivity tips into account, try them out and measure the outcome by way of your increased performance and the overall happiness of your workforce.
We wish you luck with the future of your small business!