Running a small business can take up a lot of your time. If you’re fortunate enough to have some success under your belt, you could have anywhere from 20 – 200 people a day who need a minute or two of your time.
On top of those obligations you still have a dozen or so contracts that need your approval, a staff meeting, a wedding designer (right, you’re getting married okay, just go with it), little Holly’s soccer game (from your first marriage), and then you still need to find time to watch this week’s episode of Castle on TiVo.
Productivity Hacks for Small Business
1. Ritual de lo Habitual
Read the book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. Also read “Daily Rituals” by Mason Curry. Buy them, borrow them, or otherwise acquire them. Just read them.
Habits are the cornerstone of success. Not everyone can be a playboy or heiress; rich at birth, with limitless cash flow and time to ponder the meaning of life indefinitely. Some of us need to work to reach the top of the mountain.
Develop a habit of waking, eating, completing important tasks, eating, fielding inquiries, eating, then going to sleep (oh and drink lots of water too) at specific times.
2. Make a “To Do List” in Order of Importance and/or Difficulty Level
You’re probably sick of hearing about to do lists. Unless you’re a successful artist with fans, studios, publishing houses, etc. – all eagerly awaiting your next big piece. You need a list to accomplish your goals for each day. Put the important and/or difficult stuff first.
You can push the unimportant stuff off to someone else if it doesn’t get done, or leave it til the next day.
3. Never Agree to or Set up a Meeting Without a Clear Agenda
Ask for a specific, unalterable time limit that will not be exceeded. There are so many greats that I’ve heard utter this phrase over the years, and unfortunately I can’t remember a single one right now.
However, this Linkedin post about covers the importance of not wasting your time in meetings and how to avoid their inevitable chit chat, back and forth, and general lack of effectiveness.
4. Doodle While You Work
Yes. Doodle a picture of a stick-figure dog while you work. Seriously, try it. It’s great for relaxing the mind while you’re making phone calls or listening to messages.
5. Schedule Non-Negotiable YOU Time
Cindy Wong, CEO of Vayable says that she schedules three activities every single week that are just for her, with no business interruptions during that time. She’s an ambitious lady and doesn’t have much free time.
You should try to aim for an hour or two a day. Read an interesting book, take MMA lessons, teach someone a skill you’ve mastered, etc.
This works no matter what kind of business you happen to be in, for the most part. The secret to outsourcing is to first realize that you’re not the only one who can get things done. And that you’re not the best. And that’s that. Lie to yourself if you have to.
There are exceptions (like if you’re the only astronaut who can fly to the space station to fix the ‘orbital spectrograph’), but projects like data entry, transcription, (some) customer service, sales, and many others can be outsourced affordably. This leaves your brain more refreshed to innovate and expand your business.
7. Exercise Daily
Exercise burns up cortisol, the hormone our body releases in excess when we’re stressed. It also releases endorphins, burns up excess blood sugar (so you don’t become a typical diabetic office drone), blah – blah – blah.
You’ve heard this before. You know it’s true, but how could I say I shared productivity hacks with my readers if I didn’t throw this one in?
Seriously though, exercise might seem like something you don’t have time for, until all that sitting around catches up with you, in the form of anxiety, heart attacks, strokes, etc. The ailments caused by inactivity kill productivity. ‘Nuff said.
8. Forgive Those Who Trespass Against You
Anger and holding a grudge can actually make the adrenal glands release more adrenalin and cortisol than day-to-day stress would. These hormones are meant for primitive survival, like running from a Tyrannosaurus. When you’re sitting around not physically working your body very much, they actually become quite toxic in your blood.
Ever felt so angry that you just couldn’t stop thinking about it? Head pounding, heart racing, rage seething inside you – feeling like something is unresolved?
Resolve it by choosing to forgive.
Forgiveness releases Oxytocin, which literally makes you feel orgasmic. Oxytocin halts the release of adrenalin and cortisol too, reducing blood pressure significantly.
Not to mention the person you forgive will receive the same benefit – enabling both of you to be more clear-headed and productive.
9. Use Voicemail
Beth Doane, the beautiful and successful Founder of Raintees advises against answering your phone whenever it rings:
“I tend to return calls at the end of the day, and if someone really needs to reach me I have my assistant’s info on my voicemail and let her decide if it’s really an ‘important’ call.”
Resist the urge to answer every incoming call. Each one will put you a further step behind and eventually it’s 4PM and you’ve got nothing to show for the day.
Shallow breathing leads to hypoxia (low oxygen levels) and hypercapnia (high carbon dioxide levels) in your blood. This isn’t good for the brain obviously. How can you be productive when your thinker isn’t getting the oxygen it so desperately needs.
Also, the aforementioned conditions are very “stressful” to our bodies, as too little of one and not enough of the other is a life or death problem; resulting in, you guessed it – more adrenaline and more cortisol. This article contains information on the long-term health complications of improper breathing.
Breathing Photo via Shutterstock