As a small business, you could probably use a few extra hands. But, in many cases, hiring more employees just simply isn’t an option. That leaves you with two options: 1) Let a few things slip through the cracks and hope they aren’t detrimental to your operations, or 2) find efficiencies in your day-to-day activities to make sure you’re able to accomplish everything that comes your way.
Most small business owners would choose the second option. For this reason, this section outlines productivity hacks for you and how to deploy them in your small business.
1. Form a Morning Routine
If you’re like most other professionals, the mornings are your most coveted hours in the day. So, to make use of those coveted hours, you must make sure you’re using them efficiently.
A morning routine can help ensure that this is happening.
Take a second and think about what you have done this morning. Did you have a similar process the day before? Chances are you did. If so, that is the foundation of your morning routine. Build this out, test it, move activities that aren’t result-yielding to the afternoon, and be sure to prioritize activities that are for your morning schedule. Eventually you will establish a morning routine that works for you.
2. Create a “To-Do List” in Order of Importance
To-do lists are a very, very useful tool (if used correctly). By correctly, I mean accomplishable. These lists should include tasks that can be checked off during that day or, at the very most, that week.
The best way to employ this tactic is to build a master list of tasks for the week. Then, break down those weekly tasks into daily tasks in order of importance. This will allow you to create daily to-do lists that are accomplishable and sets you up to do the same thing the next day, and the day after.
If you are technologically savvy, Evernote is a great way to manage these lists. If you’re not, sticky notes or any old notebook will do the trick.
Warning: Be careful not to load too many time-intensive tasks in one day. This can easily crumble the entire purpose of the to-do list. Remember, they are for chipping away, day by day, at your weekly tasks; not accomplishing them all at once.
3. Set Aside Some “Me Time”
One of the most productive hacks on this list is to be selfish. That’s right, selfish. Regardless of what department, industry, or company you’re in - you get requests that can easily derail your daily and/or weekly progress.
That’s why it’s important to set aside some time for yourself to do those small things that make a difference. Blocking off an hour or two, once a week, to catch up on email or address a few mindless tasks can be just what you need to make sure you’re getting to all of your requests, tasks, and administrative work.
4. Complete Simple Tasks as They Come
Remember those requests that I mentioned in the last hack? You know as well as anyone that they can be destructive to your time.
To combat the requests, simply complete the ones that are easy enough to quickly accomplish. The rule of thumb is that if it requires less than 15 minutes, it can be prioritized to be accomplished within the next 15 minutes. This will help you avoid adding more tasks than you already have to your to-do lists.
5. Use Technology to Find Efficiencies
Believe it or not, in today’s day and age there are hundreds of apps focused on making you more productive. Apps like Pocket can be great for saving articles that you don’t have time to read at that moment, but want to read at a later time. Do you have quite a few “ah-ha” moments during the workday? If so, Vesper can help you vocally record those thoughts to revisit at a later time.
Technology is tracking at paces never before seen. If you can, utilize these new technologies. You just might find some use in using them over trying to write everything down or trying to read and retain everything in one sitting.
6. Help Your Employees Be Healthy
You may have heard - healthy employees increase productivity. But is it true? Many surveys say it is. If you’re skeptical that health employees really have an impact on increased productivity, here’s a look at what recent studies have found.
Employees who eat healthy are 25% more likely to have higher job performance, found one survey.
The same survey also found that employees who exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, are 15% more likely to have higher job performance.
And, healthy employees take fewer sick days. Absenteeism is 27% lower for those workers who eat healthy and regularly exercise.
Overweight employees cost their employers $73.1 billion a year and file twice the number of workers’ compensation claims.
According to a Quantum Workplace report, employees are 14% more engaged when provided time off to recharge, 10% more engaged when provided health food options, 18% more engaged when provided time for healthy activities, and 18% more engaged when provided a flexible schedule.
Employers have bought in to the idea but struggle to measure the exact impact. According to a Willis survey, 93% believe that healthier employees are more productive, yet very few are measuring the impact of productivity on employees’ absenteeism, FMLA, and presenteeism.
Healthy employees reduce healthcare costs. According to Willis, 61% of employers say employees’ health habits are a top challenge to controlling healthcare costs.
Having healthy employees is important to productivity, culture, and cost containment.
As you think about programs to encourage healthy employees, there are four main areas to focus on: stress management, nutrition programs, physical exercise, and health benefits.
These programs sound expensive, but they don’t have to be. To implement workplace health programs on a small business budget, consider these budget-savvy ideas:
Provide employees a healthcare allowance for their health, dental, and vision insurance - instead of purchasing an expensive group health insurance plan.
Implement a low-cost wellness program.
Provide membership discounts to a local gym.
Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks.
Provide paid time off.
Encourage (or require) stress-relief breaks, or allow employees to take longer lunch breaks to exercise.
Offer exercise classes on-site, led by a team member to lower costs.