Business owners are magicians. We take a concept and turn it into a reality time and time again. Then, we iterate on that concept, making it better, faster, stronger, over time.
But almost every business owner I know struggles with one thing in particular – productivity. How do you get enough time in the day to work all of the tricks you want to work? How do you use those hours to produce?
It’s not as easy as it might seem. On the surface you might think you’re operating in a way that is productive, but are you? Here are several ways you could be sabotaging your productivity.
Not Getting Enough Rest
Are you burning the midnight oil? Or are you waking up too early to try to squeeze in more productive hours during the day?
Although your intentions are good, you might be hurting your productivity more than you are helping it by cutting your sleep short. By not getting enough rest you could decrease your information retention, experience higher mood swings, and make it harder for your brain to focus during the workday, according to an infographic by the International Journal of Occupational Health and Medicine and the UC Berkeley Walker Sleep Lab.
To make yourself perform better when you are behind your desk, it’s imperative that you give your body the chance to hit refresh every day. Rest. Sleep. You’ll be more productive if you do.
Trying to Do It All By Yourself
As a small business owner, it’s tempting to try to go it alone. You like to learn. You like to understand what’s happening in your business. And although both are good traits, they’re not ideal when it comes to your personal productivity.
As a leader, it’s up to you to determine which tasks are better to delegate. Many tasks won’t be in your zone of genius and that’s okay. Take off the hats that are causing you to slow down and perform poorly, and then hand them off to someone else who is an expert in that specific area. The more you delegate, the less you’ll try to take on more than you need to.
Obsess Over the Wrong Issues
Every project is made up of thousands of tiny details. Although you might be a perfectionist wanting to ensure every single detail is ironed out before sharing your work with the world, doing so will stunt your productivity.
Prioritize each issue within each project. Sometimes, the issues you’re obsessing over aren’t as relevant to your success as you might think. In those cases, let go. Submit to a lack of perfection, so you can focus your attention on the items that matter.
Rehash Old Topics
When you meet with a team or a client, the goal is to move the needle forward on specific issues, so you can stay productive, right? Yet many people only partially close a chapter on an issue when leaving a meeting. Then, when they reconvene, they open the chapter right back up and start rehashing what was already discussed.
This merry-go-round of conversation might feel productive but in actuality, it’s leading you in circles; not forward on your path to success.
As you work with your team and with your clients, make a conscious effort to wrap things up before leaving so you avoid the trap of rehashing old topics at your next meeting.
Meeting Too Often
Speaking of meetings, how often are you stepping away from your desk to convene with your team or clients? Although face-to-face time can be productive, too much of a good thing can steal away from your working hours, causing you to fall behind in the tasks that’ll get you closer to your goals.
Learn how to say no to meetings. Schedule them sparingly and when possible, schedule them for short periods of time. Give yourself a hard stopping time, so you can ensure you are the most productive during the time you have.
Getting Sucked Into the Internet Abyss
The Internet is full of information. It’s also full of status updates, gifs, and memes. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of scrolling through a newsfeed for the sake of research, or spending too much time on social media.
Do a gut check to determine how much time you’re really spending on productive tasks while you’re on the Internet and how much time you’re wasting. If there are specific sites you tend to get sucked into (like Facebook or Reddit), put a time limit on yourself for the time you’re on those pages. Set a timer, so you can remind yourself to stop scrolling and start producing.
You have a lot on your plate, so it makes sense that you want to tackle as much of it at once as possible. And while multi-tasking on small projects might feel productive, it’s not.
By not focusing your full attention on one thing at a time, you actually spend more time on tasks than is necessary. You also leave yourself open to making more mistakes, which could come back to cost you more time in the long run.
Set a timer for 30-minutes. Then, mentally commit to focusing on one specific task for the duration of that time. You’ll be amazed how much more you’re able to accomplish.
Not Harnessing Technology
Many people are afraid of technology for one reason or another. But the reality is, it’s helpful – especially when it comes to taking tedious items off the to-do list.
With the right tools in place you can quickly become more productive by freeing up your schedule to focus on the work that’ll move you toward your goals faster. For example, with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool in place, you spend less time shuffling through old emails and communications to find notes about each account. Or, with a scheduling app, you spend less time managing your people’s time, so you can have more time for your other work.
Take an Active Role in Staying Productive
Ultimately, productivity is up to you. If you find yourself procrastinating, take active measures to stop. If you find yourself spending long hours at networking events without results, revisit your goals and learn how to make the most of your networking opportunities.
The responsibility is yours. By taking proactive measures to boost your productivity, you will do yourself more favors in the long run and see better results from the time you spend in the office.