Professional responsibilities require consistent attention, particularly among entrepreneurs, who are typically stretched thin, covering all the bases. Compounded by additional lifestyle commitments, running a business sometimes undermines effective time management, which can have an impact on personal productivity.
Entrepreneurs wear many hats, commonly taking on diverse responsibilities for the sake of business success. Depending upon the size and scope of business operations, owners may be personally saddled with professional responsibilities such as
- business development,
- creating marketing strategies,
- hiring and firing,
- project management,
- community relations,
- and more.
Though some owner/operators have help in these and other relevant areas, the buck stops with the individual in charge, leaving many entrepreneurs pressed for time. Fortunately for overextended and underproductive executives, new tools and proven strategies can help boost productivity.
If you feel as though you’re working hard, yet sense you’re not making progress, it may be time to focus on the true measure of productivity: whether or not you’re moving your business forward. Adopting the following productivity hacks, shared by allBusiness contributor, Zac Johnson, can help you master time management and create a productive professional flow.
Eliminate Tedious Tasks that Limit Personal Productivity
Human nature seeks distractions from unpleasant and difficult work. With so much on their plates, entrepreneurs may take on tedious tasks, in order to forge ahead without tackling meatier issues. In some cases, business owners turn to the activities they enjoy most, letting other obligations languish unfulfilled. In other instances, procrastination results from entrepreneurs putting off their most challenging responsibilities, instead favoring the path of least resistance.
If you’re guilty of similar time management missteps, delegating and/or eliminating particular tasks from your daily routine can help boost personal productivity. Writing for allBusiness, Johnson suggests logging all your work activities for a week, however simple or routine. From reviewing emails to running work-related errands, you should ask whether or not the tasks further your business interests. If you’re the indispensable link, ensuring critical tasks are correctly completed, devoting your attention to the details is time well-spent. On the other hand, duties easily eliminated or delegated may be holding you back, so you should consider shedding the responsibilities. Hiring a virtual or on-site assistant may not set you back as much as you think, particularly when increased personal productivity overshadows the cost of getting some help.
Effective scheduling is another time management strategy overlooked by some commercial organizations. If you’re covering jobs that should be done by staffers, look to scheduling software and mobile time-tracking apps for clues; you may be able to lighten your load without adding net payroll hours.
Utilize Time Management Tools
Using the right project management and scheduling tools can help streamline your workload, resulting in greater efficiency and productivity. There are many customizable solutions available, so it pays to try a few, before locking-in the best tools for your professional needs. Effective solutions can help things like:
- Planning – Project management apps and software enable you to plan and delegate from a single platform, helping you manage your calendar and keep track of assigned tasks.
- Scheduling – Effective tools make it easier to collaborate, gathering your entire team for scheduling, tasking, organizing, and exchanging information.
- Documenting– File management features simplify editing and file storage, adding an extra layer of security against lost or corrupt material.
- Evaluating– Management and reporting software makes it easier to track growth and assess productivity.
For the best results with time management tools, leverage all the advanced features made possible by modern technology. Intuitive modern solutions incorporate built-in artificial intelligence, shared access to scheduling features, as well as mobile capabilities and cross-connectivity.
Restrict Your Scope to Three Daily Tasks
Planning your perfect day may not be entirely realistic; too many variables can muddle a linear approach. What you can do, however, is establish three clear priorities for each business day, focusing your attention on achieving a limited number of objectives. Narrowing your focus in this way doesn’t necessarily mean your workday is over after crossing off three tasks, only that your marching orders are always clear, reducing downtime spent deciding what to do next.
The “top three” principle not only works for business bosses, but can also be applied down the chain, helping other members of your team stay focused on pressing priorities. The three goal strategy can also be deployed organization-wide, facilitating an efficient path to quarterly or annual achievements, without getting sidetracked or clouding productivity with uncertainty.
Stay Healthy and Identify Your Most Productive Periods
Are you prone to reduced productivity during particular parts of the day or week? If so, you may be fighting an uphill battle, expecting peak productivity during personal lulls. Blocking off your most productive periods can help you minimize distractions and maximize personal output.
If you like to hit the ground running each morning, tackle challenging tasks before sifting through your email inbox. And if a healthy lunch makes you feel focused and energetic, work uninterrupted following your mid-day meal, holding your calls until late afternoon.
Demand Accountability and Reward Success
Your strong work ethic may be the trait separating you from your contemporaries, but without accountability, you may have difficulty working “smarter,” rather than harder. For the best results, enlist a trusted colleague to hold you accountable, and encourage other staff members to follow suit. In the spirit of productive collaboration, don’t be afraid to ask yourself and other employees, “Is that the best way to spend your time?”
Accountability and workflow success complement one another, so it is important to recognize your achievements, before moving to the next task at hand. Pausing to reflect and reward success helps you find motivation from one day to the next and allows time for you to make adjustments, before tackling your next top priority.
Business owners typically absorb widespread professional responsibilities, creating potential productivity pitfalls. Whether you’re overextended or simply need a productivity boost, these tips can help you focus on moving your business forward.