Five tips to improve productivity in the last week of summer

Niall O'Loughlin of 99designs explores a number of ways to spike the productivity of your small business.

If you happen to run one of the 5.2 million small businesses in the UK, you’re likely to be under a lot of time pressure. As liberating as it is to be your own boss and to be in charge of a group of people, this power comes with great responsibility. In the internet age, you are up against stiff competition and a lack of productivity will soon see your business become yet another unfortunate statistic.

1. Do the most hated tasks first

Whether it involves paperwork or personnel, there will be a few aspects of your enterprise that you readily try to avoid. Unfortunately, you have to perform these tasks at some point or another or else your entire business will go up in smoke.

As a result, it is best if you just focus on getting the least desirable jobs out of the way as soon as possible so you can look forward to the rest of your working day. Once they are done, you’ll feel a lot better which will almost certainly equate to a productivity boost. In contrast, if you leave these tasks on the long finger, they’ll continually be on your mind which will have a negative impact on the rest of your work. In all likelihood, the quality of your work will suffer just as much as the quantity.

2. Then start firing on the simple tasks

How often have you left a relatively simple task on the side for later even though it only takes a few minutes to complete? One of the biggest mistakes made by small business owners in the UK is to ‘schedule’ such jobs for a later date. Doing this only increases the length of time it takes to finish the task. If you get these small ‘to-dos’ out of the way immediately, you’ll be shocked at how much time is saved during the course of a work day. It really does add up.

3. Embrace technological aids

Even if you aren’t fond of technology, you have to acknowledge that most technological aids are there for a very good reason. A generation ago there was no Internet, email or Smartphones but all of the above and more are in play today and there are a host of productivity apps designed to make your life easier; so use them!

Take a look at this productivity app list and see if there is anything there to improve the way your business operates. For example, ‘Doodle’ helps you plan meetings quickly and effectively while Droplr is a popular file sharing app. Try out some of these tools to see how they fit your business.

4. Manage your team in the right way

Micromanagement is the bane of small businesses in the UK as it wastes time, money and negatively affects the morale of employees. Too often, business owners spend time closely observing the work of their team members; not only is this time wasted that could be used on more important parts of your business, it does little for someone’s morale to know that their boss doesn’t trust them enough to just let them work.

Delegation is the antidote to micromanagement; it shows that you have faith in your team and also takes some work off your plate. You can also use crowdsourcing to find someone for a particular task with expertise that is otherwise lacking in your company.

A good manager knows when to trust his team so instead of making your team feel like cogs in a wheel, give them the feeling that they are an important part of your business. You’ll be amazed at the positive response from your employees which will translate into increased productivity.

5. Devote time to exercise, both physical and mental

As a business owner, you’re likely to work long hours and spend most of your day sat behind a desk on a computer. It is a lifestyle that breeds poor habits such as a penchant for ‘fast food’ and a lack of exercise. In order to get in your daily dose of exercise, you should schedule it like a meeting to ensure you don’t miss it. Regular exercise promotes higher quality sleep which in turn gives you the energy to work longer and harder.

You should also devote some time to ‘mental’ exercise which involves training your brain via activities such as reading, games and puzzles. Your mind has connections that can be strengthened to improve performance. As a result, your mind will function on a higher level at work which ensures you stay on top of the multitude of tasks you face each day. A quick Sudoku or crossword puzzle at lunch could work wonders for your productivity!

As a small business owner, you face a lot of challenges which can overwhelm you if you’re underprepared. Instead of allowing stress and inefficiency to take over, utilise the above productivity hacks for the benefit of your business.

Further reading on productivity


Niall O'Loughlin

Niall O’Loughlin is marketing manager at graphic design marketplace 99designs.

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