If you’re like many small- and medium- sized business owners, time is your enemy — there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. Focus becomes the key element to your day-to-day productivity, and with the distracting world that surrounds us every day, it’s hard to stay productive. But, getting key tasks done quickly and efficiently is not as daunting as it seems! Read on for nine easy tips to stay focused and increase productivity.
1. Learn to say no. If you’re a people pleaser like me, saying “no” to someone is easier said than done. But when it comes to productivity, it’s important to learn to say “no” so you can stay focused on important tasks. But here’s one thing to make it easier: Learn to say “no” with a smile. You won’t want to say “no” to everything of course, but if the task in question is something you truly feel will not be a productive use of your time, make the requestor work hard for your valuable “yes.”
2. Don’t try to multitask. Take it from life experiences — texting while driving, cooking while talking on the phone, doing homework while watching TV — none of these ever make you more productive at the more important of the two tasks. By trying to multitask, all you’re really doing is creating more work for yourself. So, how to cure the multitasking bug? Turn it into a game. Bet yourself one ice cream sundae or one new pair of shoes that you can’t go one day without multitasking. After you successfully stay focused on one task at a time for an entire day (and trust me — you will!) reap the reward.
3. Don’t leave your email open. Think about how much time you waste every day reading and responding to email. Or, worse yet, how many times you’re in the middle of a task and stop everything you’re doing to read an email that just came through. If something is that urgent, the email will come in marked as urgent, or better yet, the request will come to you via someone in person or on the phone.
4. Do similar tasks all at once. This will not only help you focus your attention, it will also make you feel like you accomplished more. For example, have a bunch of invoices that need to be filed? Keep them all in a pile and file them when they have all been received. (Permitting if there is a pertinent deadline or not, of course!)
5. Stay organized. Get in the habit of putting things back in the same place every time you use them. Keys, phone, stapler, paper clips … anything that could take time out of your day that you spend on searching for!
6. Keep a to-do list. At the start of each day, I write a quick list of everything that I’m working on, starring or circling the items that have to get done that day. Even after getting the thoughts out of my head and onto the paper, I start to feel less stressed! Being able to see your list get smaller and smaller will help you feel a greater sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, write all the tasks you’ve yet to complete on a new piece of paper, setting yourself up for another accomplished day tomorrow!
7. Delegate your tasks. You don’t have to do everything. If people have offered you help and you need it, let them. If you have an assistant, let them assist you. But, as we’ve mentioned before, there’s a difference between bossing people around and leading your team into success by delegating certain tasks. Check out this blog to read more on that.
8. Take a breather. Several times each day, preferably between tasks, take a moment to collect yourself. Go outside and breathe in some fresh air, walk a few laps around your building or sit in the lunch room and read the paper. Trust me, you’ll be able to tackle the next task with a fresh, energized mind.
9. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. This other easier-said-than-done tip is imperative to your focus and productivity. Without getting enough sleep and consuming essential nutrients, you won’t be able to perform any of the tasks outlined above.
How do you stay focused and productive at work? Is it following any of the tips mentioned above or something completely different? Help other SMBs out with what you’ve learned! Leave a comment below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.