In the business world, it’s all about productivity: how much can you get done with limited time, resources, and mental energy? This is especially true for entrepreneurs and small business people, who often have to fill several roles in their organizations
Taking a few focused steps to boost your productivity can go a long way toward helping your business be successful. Here are five ways you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your time.
Write Everything Down
This is my personal key to productivity. Your brain can only hold so many things at once, and when it starts to get overloaded, you get stressed and start forgetting things—and that’s terrible for productivity.
Writing things down reduces your stress level, because your mind knows that it doesn’t need to juggle so many items in your short-term memory. It’s a win all around.
Putting things down on paper can take any form your want; it could be a notebook, a tablet, or even the notes app on your smartphone. As long as you have places to jot notes and reminders, and you actually use it, you’ll be in good shape.
Use Productivity Apps
This is similar to the above strategy, and they can be used in tandem to really boost the amount you can accomplish in a day. There are tons of checklist apps that will help you keep track of the things you need to get done. From simple checklists to games that reward you for checking things off of your list, there are tons of apps out there, and one of them is probably perfect for your needs.
Wunderlist, Any.do, and Todoist are all very popular, and offer syncing between devices, prioritization, lists, and other features that will help you stay organized and keep track of the things that need to get done. By keeping your tasks in one place and your notes in another, you’ll always know where to look and what to do next.
Try a Productivity System
Productivity systems aren’t for everyone, but the business people who use them tend to swear by them. Systems like Getting Things Done (GTD), Pomodoro, Zen to Done, and Don’t Break the Chain help people prioritize their tasks and time to make sure they’re going about things the right way. GTD is especially popular lately, and it has a lot of adherents.
My personal favorite is the Pomodoro system, which breaks time into 25- and 5-minute sections. I work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. I repeat this pattern four times, then take a 15-minute break. It seems like there’s a lot of break time, but it keeps me focused and I end up getting a lot more done than if I sit at my computer for several hours.
Try a few for yourself and see which is the best for helping you be more productive.
This is a difficult one for a lot of people, but it’s very important. When you have the chance to delegate a task, you should do it. Especially if you’re not the best person for the job. It’s easy to get pulled into every little thing that happens in the course of running your business, but being able to let go and allow someone else to take care of things—especially minor things—opens you up to being able to concentrate on larger, more important tasks.
Remember that you only have limited mental energy and decision-making power that you can use in a day, and that you should spend it on the most important things you can. Let others take care of smaller issues and focus on the tasks that will make the most difference with the least amount of effort (remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of what you accomplish will come from 20% of the tasks).
This is a tip that seems a bit counterintuitive, but it’s an important one that a lot of people forget. Although you have limited mental energy and willpower, you can increase your stores by continuing to adopt good habits and use those stores effectively. It’s like training a muscle: the more time you spend working effectively, the more productive you’ll be able to be in the future.
Remember this tip on the days when you get frustrated because you can’t concentrate or you’re not getting as much done as you hoped to. Even on days when you’re struggling, you’re making a difference in your total productivity over long periods of time, so that struggling isn’t in vain.
Your Best Tips
These five tips have worked for thousands of people around the globe, but everyone has their own productivity strategies that work best. We want to hear from you! Head to our Facebook page or Twitter feed and let us know how you stay productive.