UK businesses are starting to come in for sustained criticism and the speculation is starting to focus on Small Businesses in particular, so what might this mean for your business?
I have pulled this out, to make it clear what sorts of practical actions you could take in your business (combinations of these can also substantially improve your profitability):
Identify and Do the Most Important Tasks, Delegate the Rest
Delegating tasks to your team members can give you more time to focus on the really important items on your to-do list. But first, you need to determine what those important items are. Go through your to-do list and identify the items that only you can do or that are essential to your operations. Then find team members or contractors who can handle the items that don’t fall into those categories.
Prioritise the Items on Your To-Do List
You should also go through your list to find which items are the most urgent. The tasks that have to get done right away should go at the top. And more long-term projects can go on a separate list so that they don’t cause overwhelm or distract you from those more urgent items.
Get the Least Desirable Tasks Out of the Way Before Lunch
On every to-do list, there are items that you just don’t want to do. Anything that you’re dreading is going to cause you more stress than other tasks. So it’s best to get those things out of the way early. Pledge to complete those pesky items before lunch so that you can take a break as a reward for completing them.
Stick With One Task at a Time
Multitasking might seem like a great way to get more done. But studies have shown that trying to do two things at once can actually slow you down. So instead, stick with one task until it’s completed, then move onto the next item on your list.
Set a Timer for Lengthier Tasks
If you have items on your to-do list that need to be broken up throughout the day because they take too long to do at once, outline exactly how much time you plan to spend on those items per day. Then set a timer when you start those items so you don’t get caught up and forget to look at the other items on your list.
Finish Quick Tasks Right Away
On the other end of the spectrum, when you have small tasks like quick phone calls or emails that are cluttering up your to-do list, it can help your productivity to get those things out of the way early. Then you can focus all of your energy on just one or two major projects throughout the rest of the day.
Find the Right Collaboration Tool for Your Team
When working with a team, you need to be able to communicate with them quickly and efficiently. That means you need an actual system that everyone can use to update their progress on different projects, instead of relying on emails or meetings where you need to go out of your way to ask them about those items. Project management tools like Slack, Asana or even Google Docs can help your team collaborate and share information quickly and easily.
Make Sure All Meetings Have Clear Agendas and Cut Out Those That Don’t
Meetings can be absolutely necessary for keeping your team on track and your clients happy. But they can also be huge time wasters. To avoid getting trapped in unproductive meetings, make sure that every one you host or attend has a set agenda. Not only should every meeting have a purpose, but it should also have a strict schedule that outlines which items to discuss when. That way, you can be sure you’re only attending meetings that will make you more productive instead of those that will simply waste your time.
Schedule Meeting-Free Days
It’s also important for you to have some days that are completely meeting free. Doing this will allow you to get back on track with any tasks that you may have fallen behind on throughout the rest of the week without getting distracted.
Keep Healthy Snacks on Hand
If you want to be productive throughout the long workday, you need to make sure that your body is up to the challenge. If you’re constantly hungry or feeling sick, you can’t hope to get a whole lot accomplished. So make sure that you always have some healthy snacks around your office. And make a habit of eating a healthy breakfast and lunch every day as well.
Schedule Breaks and Exercise
You also need regular breaks throughout the day to keep your mind sharp. Instead of getting caught up in your to-do list and just mindlessly working the day away, schedule a few quick breaks throughout the day to get up and walk or stretch. You can even set an alarm or timer so that you don’t forget.
Identify Opportunities for Automation
As a business owner, there’s no point in spending your precious time on tasks that can be automated. It’s well worth it for you to invest in tech tools and software that can do simple things like schedule social media posts or update your expense reports so that you don’t have to spend time manually taking care of those items.
Stay Off Social Media during the day
In fact, it can also be beneficial for you to stay off of social media throughout the workday if at all possible, at least for your personal accounts. And for any business related accounts, you should set aside time to schedule posts and respond to inquiries on social media rather than checking those items constantly.
Schedule Times to Check Your Email
Likewise, checking your email constantly can lead to tons of distractions throughout the day. Instead, schedule a few times each day for you to check and respond to emails. That way, you can give it your full attention and then stay focused on other tasks throughout the rest of the day.
Unplug Completely When a Deadline is Approaching
When you’re working on tasks that have strict upcoming deadlines, it may be necessary for you to buckle down even more. But there are so many potential distractions online. So you can potentially get more done if you work offline for short periods of time until you get those projects completed.
Get Clutter Off Your Desk
When you’re in the middle of an important project but then you get caught up because you can’t find an important document under all the clutter on your desk, it can really throw off your productivity. And it can be difficult to even get started on some projects if you’re distracted by messy surroundings. So set up a simple filing system and try to keep your workspace as clear as possible.
Turn Up the Office Thermostat
If you and your employees are uncomfortable, you’re probably pretty likely to get distracted or make mistakes in your work. So studies have shown that warm office temperatures — even those that go up to around 77 degrees — can lead to increased productivity.
Change Your Surroundings When You Feel Stuck
When you get into a creative rut, no amount of productivity tools or hacks can help you magically have better ideas. But a change of scenery can sometimes work wonders. So when you’re having a hard time focusing or coming up with ideas, take your work home or to a local coffee shop instead of trying to force creativity in your office.
Say “No” to Opportunities That Don’t Fit With Your Mission
When you take on extra projects that don’t fit with your business’s main purpose, it can be a huge drain on your resources. It might be difficult to say “no” to your partners, clients or other collaborators. But focusing only on the most essential activities can ensure that you and your team stay as productive as possible.
Give Your Team a Clear Direction From the Start
As a small business owner, you can only get so much done on your own. But your team can help you accomplish much more, if you let them. However, if your employees need to constantly come to you to ask questions or get the okay to move ahead on projects, it can halt your productivity and theirs. Instead, give them clear instructions for their specific duties and projects so that they can work more independently and only come to you or other managers when it’s absolutely necessary.