The foundation of every successful business is its ability to be productive. It seems simple, but optimal productivity can, in fact, be quite difficult to achieve, as distractions of all kinds, poor time management and a never ending to-do list can all hinder any business from being truly productive. Here are some simple tools and techniques to ensure you, and your business, are living up to their potential:
- Limit Distractions: Make sure to have a designated time and place to conduct your business, even if it’s just a place in your home. Create an environment as free from potential distractions as possible and devote time each day to keeping it that way.
- Stay on Track: Make lists and set goals to help manage and track your progress. Online to-do lists can be very helpful, especially when several people are collaborating on a project with you. Project or database management software can also be an extremely valuable investment.
- Learn to Delegate: Realize that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should. Strive to distribute tasks so that everyone is contributing their strongest skills, yourself included. This also means letting go of tasks that are really not the best use of your time. “Can I give this to someone else to do and it will be okay?” Learn to start answering “yes” to this question and you’ll begin to reclaim some time.
- Organize your Email: Get acquainted with emails filters. REALLY familiar. Deposit incoming messages into different folders depending on their urgency, subject matters, senders, etc. Block time to look at the things that have the highest priority or deadlines associated with them and look at the fun stuff on your off time.
- Streamline your Communication: For email, text documents and printed correspondence, create some basic templates for your various purposes. Consider an email program that can automatically populate names, addresses and other specs into an email template. Or just construct text templates as a starting point for routine correspondence. Aside from easing your workload, they can also help your business correspondence remain consistent and professional.
- Learn to say NO: I’m really the worst person to suggest this, as I have a hard time doing it myself. However, I am getting better. And you should, too. It’s easy to take on way too much with a kind heart, but you run the risk of putting other priorities in jeopardy. When in doubt, just say “no”.
- Organize and compartmentalize: What’s streamlining without organization? Become a folder fanatic; it will help you contain things better. Too much clutter on your desk on even on your computer wastes valuable time. There’s a reason libraries are so orderly. Learn from them.
- Reward Yourself: The best part of real productivity is the wonderful feeling of accomplishment from a job well done. But, promising yourself periodic rewards for accomplishing short-terms goals is also a great way to stay motivated. I like chocolate. But maybe that’s just me.
You might be closer to productivity than you think. Give these couple tips a shot and let me know how they work for you.