Do you want to raise resilient employees that will grow your company? If YES, here are 50 best workplace productivity tips for entrepreneurs & small business owners.
When starting a business or a new project, our drive to succeed is always at an all-time high, and we can deny ourselves a lot of things to ensure we have more hours to invest into our projects or businesses. But there comes a time when that drive would simmer down, and it seems our balloons have been deflated; or when we feel like we have so much to do that we get overwhelmed. These conditions can take a huge bite out of our productivity, leaving us wondering how we even allowed ourselves take the nosedive.
Running a business is hardwork, but as an entrepreneur, you have to learn to be on top of your game always regardless of the odds. Here are a few proven tips on how to be a productive entrepreneur as well as how to run a productive small business.
50 Best Workplace Productivity Tips for Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners
Productivity Tips for Entrepreneurs
- Always find the drive to get up and go
Just like explained above, there are times as an entrepreneur when you have lost all hope, and nothing seems to go right. You probable want to stay back at home and just forget everything. But these are times when your mettle is tested as an entrepreneur. You need to put all of it aside, regain focus of your priorities, and show up to work. As an entrepreneur showing up to work even when you are not in the mood is the only way to achieve better productivity and success, this can also motivate your workers.
- Take good care of your health
When we have urgent deadlines, meetings to attend and a thousand and one other things to see to, we tend to neglect our health, pretending that the word ‘burnout’ does not exist for us. When you are sick or extremely exhausted, you can’t expect to complete much work and your physical condition simply won’t let you do so. Avoid breakdown by setting aside time away from work for yourself and doing what makes you happy. Keep yourself in good shape and your mind and soul will stay in tune with your personal and professional life. This is the only way you can run a sound business.
- Keep track of your efforts
If as an entrepreneur, you are just letting time pass by and are not keeping track of key statistics and analytics, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities to improve and grow. You need to track and analyze all the efforts that you have expended in building your business, and this can be accomplished through the use of technology. Tracking your efforts makes sure that you are fully aware of what is working and what is not working. This will give you a lot of insight into what you are up against.
- Always remember the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is a technique where a timer is used to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Francesco Cirillo named the system “Pomodoro” after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work as a university student. These intervals are named pomodoros. This method has helped a lot of people to break themselves away from the urge to multitask and focus better, by ensuring that they work undistracted and are full of focus and vigor in the 20-25 minute session they set up for themselves. You as an entrepreneur can use this technique to reduce stress and increase productivity.
- Keep your rose-tinted lens at home
While nothing should stop you from dreaming big, having a strong foothold on present day realities is essential to keep you from unrealistic expectations followed by bitter disappointments later. Realistic goals save you the dismay caused by your illusions of how the results should be. Although a rose-tinted view of your business is a good way to stay optimistic, but that shouldn’t result in you losing your foothold on the realistic goals which are essential to the sustainability of your startup. A better way to go about this is to break down your long-term goals into shorter, achievable milestones and focus on the here and now.
- Use Cloud Lists
People have evolved from just making lists to making lists in the cloud so that it can be available wherever they are. Keep your lists together in one place by using a cloud-based note-taking program. When something needs to be done or you have a great idea you want to explore, put it on the list. With how easy it is to access this list, you would never be at a loss of the next task to accomplish in your business day.
- Scout for a Mentor
Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be a ‘know-it-all’ island in the world of business. It does pay to seek the advice of people, especially people who have been in the business longer than you have. Scout out a mentor, a senior leader, colleague or any other respected professional who lives near. Ask if the person would be amenable to sharing his or her experience with you. You may find this to be easier than you think because a new mentor will probably be more willing to give you his or her time if it’s not going to take a chunk out of his or her work day.
- Find your most productive hours
Some people are more creative in the morning; others are more creative late at night, while for other, the blazing sun of the afternoon gets their juices flowing. Stop worrying about managing the hours you invest in your business, and start thinking about how to better manage your energy. This would enable you schedule your most challenging tasks during your most productive hours.
- Lump Similar Tasks Together
Instead of jumping from one task to another, bundle similar tasks together. For example, schedule all calls for specific days or times, do all admin tasks together, etc. You’ll save the time and mental energy it takes to switch from one task to another, and each task is done faster and more efficiently.
- Rise with the birds
This is a good productivity tip if you are a morning person. Focus on waking up earlier than usual when the day is yet free of distractions, that even the birds are yet to start their morning renditions. You can focus on completing a few tasks you have lined up for the day. This list should be categorized the previous day so that you do not waste time figuring out what you have to do first.
- Plan a Week Ahead
They say that failing to plan is planning to fail, so you should get into the habit of planning. In fact, you should get into the habit of planning your week ahead to ensure maximum productivity when Monday rolls around. Allocate time at the end of each working week to prep for the next week.
- Avoid large, heavy lunches or breakfasts
It is a fact that large lunches, or even breakfasts at that, slows the body metabolism and the mind down. So, on a day you have so much to accomplish, endavour to stay away from indulging your appetite. Instead, snack on foods high in protein, fiber and antioxidants throughout the day. Granola and berries will keep you full and focused. Sugary foods and energy drinks keep you going only for a short time, and the inevitable “crash” may turn you into a zombie and ruin your ability to work for the rest of the day.
- Make use of deadlines
There is nothing as beneficial as discipline when running a business. It helps to ensure that you complete your tasks when no one is breathing down your neck. It is a fact that if you work with stringent deadlines, you would shorten your workday by a couple of minutes. This is a good reason you should always budget your work time.
- Take a break when you feel mentally fatigued
While it is true that imposing strict deadlines and sticking to them is worthwhile, but you should also notice when you are getting mentally fatigued to take a break. Continuing work in spite of mental fatigue is actually counter-productive. Endavour to take a break where you go get some water, or just indulge in some lame chit chat, at least something not work related. Brief interludes from work can actually increase your productivity by getting your blood flowing and allowing you to return to your work with fresh eyes.
- Be consistent
If there is one commonality amongst successful people, effective leaders and great teams, it’s consistency. To be top notch in any field requires strict focus and a consistent effort, which comes from deliberate practices conducted at specific times over and over again.
- Use checklists for tasks you need to do over and over
When tasks get repetitive, it is quite possible to overlook some of them once in a while, particularly when you are overworked or are operating under time constraints. This is where you need to apply checklists. Create your own personal checklist that is suitable for what you need it for, and it would save your hide more than once.
- Break up complex tasks into manageable bits
Breaking down huge and complex tasks into manageable bits would make it less dreadful. This is because we tend to feel overwhelmed when tasks are huge. Breaking your work tasks into bits would reduce the feeling of overload and the procrastination associated with taking on big jobs. There are software and techniques that can help you do this, you only need to seek them out.
- Start the day with clearing out personal message logs
Go through emails and social media updates that have piled up overnight and tackle the backlog. Reply the ones that need quick responses and referrals, so other people can start working on tasks, if it is job related. And delete the stuff that is informational or not important.
- Know the number of apps you need, and stick with them
For an entrepreneur, there are too many apps to navigate – email, microblogging tools like Yammer, chat tools like Lync, social media utilities like Twitter and LinkedIn and operational systems like SAP, Oracle and Salesforce. Make notifications from each application appear in one place, and endavour to reduce the number of apps you need to work with so as not to spend all your time navigating apps.
- Never allow commute time to waste
Commute time is one of the few free times an entrepreneur has, and it’ll be crazy not to use this time to winnow out time-intensive tasks. You can use this time to check your emails, make lists, get updated on running projects, plan your day etc. By the time you arrive at the office, you already have an accurate picture of how your day would look like.
- Keep your workspace free of clutter
As the old saying goes, “A cluttered desk is a symptom of a cluttered mind.” The time you spend looking for misplaced papers each day is the extra time you could be using to complete your work. Likewise, there are apps to assist you in categorizing and electronically organizing your email inbox. Imagine the time you could save by no longer searching for hard-to-find emails.
- Delegate as Much as You Can
Delegating some of your work is one sure way to increase productivity as an entrepreneur. You mustn’t do all things by yourself. Let a laundry man handle your laundry, let a gardener take care of your lawn, let a subordinate help you in distributing mails and the list goes on. Just ensure that you delegate as much as you can. It will save you stress and make you more productive.
- Get rid of unnecessary things
There is a tendency to occupy your time with unnecessary things without knowing it. This is one thing you need to guard against as an entrepreneur. When you get rid of unnecessary things, you avoid distractions and you can focus on your most important goals. The key to doing this is planning your day, and try as much as possible to stick with your plans.
- Use a Learning Management System (LMS)
Productive and successful people never stop learning. Continuous research and learning are crucial to staying up-to-date with the latest market and technology trends. A culture of learning drives productivity. Fortunately, there are many eLearning options available for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to enhance their skills. For their teams, there are also many learning management systems that provide effective training for them. Be sure you get the right LMS platform that will boost the organization’s productivity in the long run.
- Keep a reminder of why you started the business in the first place
Situations that crop up while running a business can make you lose your drive. In this kind of situation, you need to always remind yourself why you set up the business in the first place. Reminding yourself of the reason you started your business can provide a substantial boost to your personal and team morale. Think about the customers you helped and how you made their lives easier, or maybe your employees and their families who support themselves by working with you. In whatever industry you belong, there are multiple people who are better off because of your company. The more you think about this, the bigger the impact on your productivity levels.
- Manage your energy
To improve your productivity as an entrepreneur, you need to be in a positive mental state and energized through good habits. Some of the habits that can give you more energy include eating healthy, sleeping well, working out etc. Inculcating these habits would help to ensure a healthy mind and body.
- Always envision long term success
Over 45 percent of people make personal resolutions, but very few entrepreneurs make resolutions for their businesses. The New Year is a perfect time to set goals for all aspects of your life. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t, and those odds for success increase to 50 percent when you write those goals down.
- Don’t Fear Change
If you continue to go along doing the same thing, and speaking to the same people, then you’ll never manage to break out and achieve real, exciting success. You need to, from time to time, get out of your comfort zone and meet new people, and change the way you work and run your business on a day to day basis.
- Try as Much as You Can to Observe Siesta at Work
Another effective productivity tip for an entrepreneur is to try as much as possible to observe siesta at work. Taking a short nap during your break period is a great way to stay refreshed and mentally alert at work. The truth is that taking a nap for as little as 20 minutes will make the whole difference in your productivity.
- Learn to Silence your Phone When You Want to Rest
As an entrepreneur, no matter how small a business you run, you would tend to get more than your own fair share of calls and emails. You must ensure your phone line especially your official line is switched off if you want to rest or sleep or even spend time with your family members. With calls coming in every five minutes and notifications dropping in every minute, there is no how you can get a restful nap.
- Go on Vacations
There is never a free time for an entrepreneur, but if you have built your business up to a reasonable extent, and you have efficient employees that can handle work affairs on their own, you should endavour to take some rest. Vacations not only serve to help you rest, but they can also help you figure out some knotty issues, or even give you a new perspective to your business. It is on record that a lot of entrepreneurs got the ideas that gave them business breakthroughs when they went on vacation. You too should try it out and see how it works for your business.
- Set Realistic Goals
Another tip that could inspire productivity for an entrepreneur is to set realistic goals for his or her business. It is good to dream big, but you have to ensure that your dreams progress in stages. Jumping from one end of the spectrum to the other may inevitably crash your business, so learn to take it easy, and set realizable goals.
- Take exercise seriously
One of the most serious things that we as humans need to increase is exercise. Many times, we tend to leave it at the back burner because we can’t find the time to fit it in. Work is an effective stress accumulator, while exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body thus helping to boost your mood and can even give you increased energy levels. If you ever need to increase your productivity as an entrepreneur, then think of heading to the gym.
Productivity Tips for Small Businesses
- Gamify work tasks
Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. The goal of gamifying work tasks is to turn otherwise tedious, long-term projects into fun, competitive experiences that get people excited. It has been discovered that gamification can be a powerful tool to boost workplace productivity and increase engagement, if it is done right. For the price of a gift card, employers can ignite the competitive spirit in employees and make serious progress on projects or sales goals.
Today, gamification is a proven tool that increases productivity in the workplace, so you can apply the same principles. You’ll also have happier workers who want to make your business a success because they feel supported by management. In fact, small businesses in particular can gain an edge over the competition by getting in on the new trend early.
- Invest in employee Training
Some businesses feel that when they hire a qualified employee, then they have no need to spend money on training. This is in fact an erroneous thinking as even the most skilled employee can use a course in the internal functioning of your company.
When you invest in your team through training, you also show a level of support that can improve their morale and show them that you care about their mental development. When employees feel as though they have career growth opportunities within an organization they are more likely to stay, and not only that, you also enhance their productivity especially if the training is done from time to time.
- Allow for Team Bonding
We could put it this way, ‘a team that plays together stays together’. As a small business owner, you may run a tight ship that may not allow time for anything else, but a short outing in the afternoon or evening can do wonders for team morale. Even if you stay in the office, you can pull the staff together for fun games like lunchtime trivia or short brainstorming activities. This activity can do a lot to boost productivity levels; you just have to choose the right activity for your employees due, maybe to the peculiarity of your business.
- Keep an eye out for beneficial work tools
As a small business, you may not be able to afford a lot of staff, and yet you have a lot of things to do that might become burdensome to the few staff you have to work with. If you are in this situation, investing in the right tools to make your job easier will pay dividends. There are a lot of innovative software products now that can help all types of businesses, and the best part is that they are often free or available for a small monthly fee. You just have to look for what your business needs to streamline its process and lighten workloads on employees.
- Get Company Headphones or Earplugs
Depending on the kind of business you run, it may be wise to buy earphones or earplugs for your employees to stave off distraction. Anytime anyone has their earphones or earplugs on, it is a sign that they are really busy and should not be disturbed. This is a good way to up productivity in the workplace, because a good number of people cannot say no to a conversation, and as such the earphone would do all the speaking for them.
- Adopt face to face chats, instead of emails
It does look like sending emails are more efficient in the workplace when trying to maximize time, but this has been discovered not to be true. It is better to pick up the phone or walk down the hall and talk directly to your employees. For geographically remote folks, it is better to use chat. Sending emails can sometimes muddle up messages that employees may get the wrong message. It is quite easier to walk up to the person and deliver your task or message. You can give precise direction and clear up misunderstandings quickly.
- Allow employees work outside the office when necessary
When a person needs to write a document or research a topic, the absence of office interruptions will sometimes improve concentration. Some companies have already found out that letting employees work from home has other advantages including fewer sick days. While this may not be a regular phenomenon, but allowing it once in a while would help improve workplace productivity.
- Schedule regular work breaks during the day
Running from one meeting to another is not productive, because employees tend to get tired and lose focus. Endavour to schedule regular work breaks during the day. Making these breaks a routine would increase predictability, creating a regular schedule to keep their mind organized.
- Reduce all meeting times
Meetings take a lot of productive time in a working environment. It tends to reduce the hours left to work with because so much time is wasted dealing with conference call setup and useless banter. If you can cut down the number of hours spent on a meeting from say one hour down to 45 minutes, you will gain back 25 hours a month of work time. That’s roughly 300 hours a year – almost two months of work.
- Reduce email CCs
Have it as a part of your company culture not to include everybody in email CCs. Including everyone in emails would make you spend scarce time in replying irrelevant questions. Always note people who should receive a particular email and who should not.
- Keep hold on last-minute meetings
Some entrepreneurs are fond of fixing last-minute meetings to keep employees back after work for a few minutes to discuss things. Do not forget that your time is as precious as anyone’s and avoid imposed last minute meetings to get things done quickly. This will only take you out of your focus and get your employees agitated and even dreading your meetings.
- Make good use of inspirational pictures and quotes
Another strategy to increase productivity in the workplace is to ensure that you place inspirational pictures and quotes at strategic positions within the office. Research shows that inspirational pictures take away stress and of course pictures can serve as a good medium of inspiration and motivation hence the need to have relevant inspirational and motivational pictures in strategic places.
- Happy Hour Should Be Observed
There is popular saying that goes thus ‘All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy’. This should be noted if you want to increase productivity in your business. You must allow time for workers to unwind after a busy day. This could be in form of weekend get together or TGIFs. This should be open to all the team, unless someone decides not to participate for one reason or the other.
- Take advantage of technology
Technology has really made life easy on all fronts, more especially running a business. There are many apps available to increase the productivity of your workplace and that of your teams. Your task now is to find ones that are relevant or peculiar to your work environment and endavour to get them. These technologies can help you reduce the number of employees you may require to run your business, and it would also help you increase productivity. You can get apps like Slack: a software that improves communication between your teams; Sendtask: a task management and team collaboration software; Google Drive: an “all in one place” tool; Time Doctor: a time tracking software, etc.
- Public Holidays Should Be Observed
If you are aiming towards having a productive workforce, then you must ensure that they observe public holidays. It is a fact that some entrepreneurs deny their employees public holidays because they feel their employees ought to always be at work to justify their pay; but this is actually counter-productive. Yes, your employees would come to work on the said holidays, but they may not concentrate enough to be productive. Again, lack of public holidays for employees actually stresses them out, which in turn would affect productivity in your business.
- Cut Down On Overtime
No doubt, there will be times when your employees are expected to put in extra hours or work overtime in order to meet the organization’s productivity goals. This of course is within reason, but you have to keep these overtimes at the minimum. You team has to always be refreshed in order to be productive, and constant overtime would make this virtually impossible. In fact, endavour to give off days when a major project has been accomplished.
- Schedule coffee breaks
Don’t forget the coffee! Coffee increases energy, focus, and attention. Coffee breaks also stimulate teams and are linked to happiness. And as it has been said, happy people are productive people. Apply these productivity tips and get ready to be efficient in your business, not busy.