When you run a business, it's crucial that you remain as efficient and productive as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of deadlines not getting met for example. You may also end up with a backlog of work and even a string of unhappy customers!
Over the years, entrepreneurs have found many ways to stay productive at work. Are you struggling to be at your best when you're working? If so, don't worry because you're not alone! The good news is there are plenty of actionable steps you can take to turn things around.
The following is a list of handy tips and tricks used by today's top entrepreneurs. They are all proven strategies and ones that you can adopt right now! Check them out:
Don't let email control your day
There is always the temptation to check your emails as soon as you get in the office. In fact, that's what many people do while drinking their first hot beverage of the day. But, I'm going to shock you by saying that you shouldn't check your emails first thing!
The problem with checking emails as soon as you get in the office is they shape what you do during your day. And that means you end up being less productive. Instead, you should take the time to draw up a list of tasks you need to complete before you go home.
Disable email notifications on your devices
When you get new emails, does your computer and other devices pop up lots of notifications? If so, you need to disable them right now! As you can appreciate, they are an unwelcome distraction from your work.
If anything is super-urgent, people will contact you by phone or see you in person. Don't spend your day checking emails in case something urgent comes up. You should be the one that controls your emails – not vice-versa! Disabling email notifications means you can concentrate on tasks with fewer distractions.
Set yourself times where you do check your email
As you can see, your email can be your biggest distraction during your day. To stay productive during the day, only check for messages at times you set.
For example, you might say to yourself that you'll check emails on the hour, every hour. Or even every two hours. The decision is yours. This method works well as you can deal with messages in a dedicated time window.
To make life easier, you should also take advantage of your email program's features. Here are a few things I recommend you try out:
- Set up mail filters so that your mail gets prioritised according to sender or topic;
- Have all newsletter subscriptions go into a low-priority mail folder. That way, you don't have to waste time reading through those emails when you're busy;
- Add junk mail senders to a blocked senders list, so you never have to receive their emails again.
Make sure your computer is fit for purpose
One of the best tips successful entrepreneurs will give you is to use the latest IT equipment. That means getting rid of that ten-year-old PC you've been using that has Windows XP on it!
Of course, not all entrepreneurs know about computer specs or the best systems to get for their needs. If you're one of those people, I suggest using an IT outsourcing company. They can help you select the right system (or systems) for your needs. And they can also provide the support you need when you need it.
Start and finish earlier
As an entrepreneur, you will no doubt work long hours. Some folks might even force themselves to work a 9-5 day! But, if you want to remain as productive as possible, start your day earlier. For instance, you could begin working at 8am and finish at 4pm. Or 7am to 3pm.
Why should you start your day earlier? Well, while most people are commuting to work or are still in bed, you can get more work done. This is especially true if you work in an office with other people. It's a well-known fact that you can get more done when there is no-one around you and no phones ringing.
The other advantage of starting your day earlier is that you can finish earlier too. That gives you the freedom and flexibility to get other things done in your day at home.
Set your smartphone to silent
When you are at work, you don't wish to get disturbed when you're busy. Aside from emails, one of the biggest distractions around is a noisy smartphone! Yours may play jingles and vibrate whenever something happens, such as when you get a new email.
As soon as you get to work, I suggest putting your smartphone on silent. That way, you have the power to control when you look at it and what you do on your device. The last thing you want to do is try to juggle several tasks at once. Now's the time to take your smartphone out of the equation.
Take advantage of the cloud
Today's entrepreneurs embrace cloud technology. It makes their daily lives easier, especially when they are on the move. There are many examples of how the cloud can help you with your business.
Take Dropbox, for instance. Instead of carrying out a portable hard drive, you can save important files to the cloud. The brilliant thing about Dropbox is that you can access your content anywhere. That means files you work on in the office are accessible at home. Or from your mobile device.
Another example of a useful cloud solution is Evernote. Like Dropbox, it's accessible anywhere at any time. You can store useful stuff from to-do lists and ideas to website bookmarks and project notes. Now you don't need to carry around several paper notebooks!
Avoid meetings where possible
One thing that disrupts your productivity the most is meetings! That's because they force you to “give up” a large chunk of your time. Quite often, meetings are events that don't need to happen. Many people find that topics can get discussed over email, for example.
There will be times, of course, where meetings are unavoidable. For instance, you may need to discuss project details with clients. And that brings us to the next point:
Assign tasks to other people
As an entrepreneur, you might feel that you have to oversee everything. But, nothing could get further from the truth! You hire people that you trust to perform certain duties within your business. Why not let them handle tasks that you would otherwise have done yourself?
Delegation is key to increasing your productivity each day. Don't be the “martyr” and tackle all outstanding tasks yourself. Let others capable of completing them take care of those tasks for you. Doing so will free up your day and ensure you can devote your time to other matters.
Don't be afraid to say no
When you run a business, there's always the danger that you can bite off more than you can chew. Or, to put it another way, you could end up overloading yourself with work.
Sure, you should snatch any opportunities to make more money in your business. But, if your business is up to capacity right now, don't be afraid to say so. And if people come to you and ask you to action something, feel free to tell them no!
If you're busy, others around you need to recognise that fact. Don't build a workplace culture where your peers can come to you when you're snowed under, as it were.
Complete the quickest tasks first
Each day you will no doubt have scores of “little” tasks to complete. You know, the ones that usually take a minute or so to do? If you leave those tasks to the last minute, you're doing things wrong!
Instead, complete those tasks first. Why? First of all, it will give you a sense of satisfaction. Second, you will feel that you've achieved plenty of things in your day. And, third, it lets you concentrate on projects that take longer to work through.
When you get to the office in the morning, put small tasks to the top of your to-do list.
Keep yourself hydrated
Believe it or not, if you don't drink enough water each day, your productivity levels will drop. That's because water gives your body the energy that it needs to function at its best. If you seldom drink water, mental and physical fatigue can set in.
When that happens, you won't feel like doing anything. In fact, you'll keep thinking of excuses to just rest or go home and sleep! If you want to avoid that happening to you, it's crucial you keep yourself hydrated during the day.
Most people agree seven to eight glasses of water a day is enough to give your body the fluids it needs to work at its best. To make your time at work more efficient, you could invest in a water cooler for your office.
Well, I hope these office hacks have inspired you to become more productive. Thanks for checking them out!