If you’re working in a startup or small business your time is incredibly valuable, so reducing the time spent procrastinating over your “to-do” list and getting work done is very important. Here are our top six ways to increase your productivity so you get through you job list faster:
1. Write a “to-do” list
It may seem obvious by writing a ‘to-do’ list will help you define and prioritize your tasks. Instead of writing tasks down on paper, consider using Google Tasks or Any.do so you can take your list everywhere you go.
Make sure to break down your tasks into manageable chunks so they are not overwhelming and will allow you to get them done quicker. Always start with the hardest task first; once that is complete, you will be able to get through the rest of your work quickly. Give your tasks a time limit as well, that way you can make sure you get everything done within a specific timeframe.
The best part of having a “to-do” list is being able to cross an item off when it’s finished. This will give you a great sense of achievement and spur you on to complete more!
2. Get help
As a small business owner, you won’t have the luxury of a large team that you can delegate to, however, there are still ways you can enlist help to get more tasks done. If you don’t have the budget to hire more staff, consider hiring a contractor for a specific task and time period.
Place an ad on Craigslist or look on Odesk, a website specifically for connecting companies and contractors. Hiring a contractor may be particularly beneficial if you have a specialized job that needs completing that is not part of your expertise.
Your small business is obviously extremely important to you, so finding someone that you can trust to help you may appear to be a daunting task. Companies such as Odesk allow you to see if the contractor you’re considering has been recommended by previous employees. If they have extensive positive recommendations, it is likely that they will be an asset to you.
Once you have enlisted help, make sure you give the contractor clear goals as well as all the information they need or a way to access the information in order to complete their task to a high standard. A clear deadline will also make sure tasks are completed in a timely manner.
3. Avoid unproductive meetings
Meeting can be extremely helpful but can also be time-consuming and unproductive. Make sure you only attend the meetings that are the most important to you.
When you set up meeting, make sure you have a clear agenda so you can keep the meeting on track and not get sidelined into unrelated conversations. Try, if possible, to block out periods of your day so you can actually work on the tasks that need completing. You can always set up alerts on your phone, if your job is often away from a desk.
Having meeting free days is also a great way to dedicate time to the things you need to get done. Designate one or two days to having meetings but leave the rest of the week free to concentrate on your tasks.
If you are a small business that needs to have meetings with external suppliers or contractors, look into services like Skype or Go to Meeting that will allow you to have face-to-face video chat or conference call with multiple people. Using these types of services will cut down on travelling time to and from meetings.
4. Stop getting distracted
Social Media, email and general web browsing can be huge distractions that can prevent you from getting your tasks done. Try and avoid these when you need to concentrate or have a deadline that you need to meet.
Rescue Time is a great tool that will show you how you spend your time on your computer, so you can measure how much time you are wasting non-work related browsing.
Also look at how you manage your email. Set aside a certain time in the day to reply to emails in bulk, try to resist the urge to check emails constantly during the day so you can concentrate on your tasks.
5. Use online tools
There are lots of tools out there that can help improve your productivity, aside from Odesk, Google Tasks or Any.do, which we have already mentioned, here are a few others that can increase your productivity:
- Rapportive – Cut down the time you spend on gathering leads (prospects) by using this Gmail add-on. If you are emailing a lead directly, Rapportive will display their contact information and allow you to connect with them on Social Media. You can also check whether the email address you have for someone is correct.
- Trello – If you have a project that you are coordinating with multiple people involved, Trello will make it easier to assign tasks and keep track of the project.
- Dropbox – This tool allows you to save your files to the cloud, meaning they are not saved to your computer or a specific external hard drive and means you can access them anywhere. You are also able to share your files with multiple people and lets people collaborate on files from any device. This means that you will be able to access your files wherever you are on whatever device.
- Boomerang – This Gmail add-on will let organize your email better. If you receive an email that doesn’t need an immediate response or that you do not have the time to reply to immediately, you can decide when you want to reply to it and the service will automatically send it back to your inbox at that time. This means you can clear out your inbox and concentrate on the emails that are most urgent at that time.
6. Get enough rest
Lastly, make sure you are getting enough sleep, since being tired will be detrimental to your productivity. Try, when possible, to go to bed early and get up early, the quality of the work your produce could increase, which means that you will start your to do list earlier!
Make sure you also take regular breaks from work. Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day is not good for your health, if you go for a walk or do a quick workout, it will help clear your mind and raise your energy levels, meaning you will be more productive later in the day.
Conversely, if your work requires you to be your feet all day. Set time aside or take a break by sitting down and getting a few basic computer things done. This will help break up your day and ensure a balance.