While there’s no hard and fast formula for business success, adopting shrewd day-to-day habits is certainly one of the most effective ways to develop and grow your business. Here, we look at 12 great habits to boost your business productivity.
From SMEs to multinationals, every business leader has their own habits to ensure day-to-day success and progress. Here are a handful of business practices you can adopt to boost your own productivity.
When it comes to everyday productivity, developing the habit of planning is essential. The more thoroughly and detailed you plan each activity, the faster and more efficiently each task will get done — helping you achieve desirable results in all of your business dealings.
Think of planning tasks as a time-saving measure, whereby for every 20% of time you put into preparing and organising, you’ll get 80% back when it comes to putting the plan into action. Planning may seem like a redundant use of your time, but it’ll pay dividends when you hit those targets or achieve the success you’ve been working towards.
One of the best habits you can adopt in the running of your business is the power to focus on your primary business objectives, across all of your day-to-day activities. Some of the world’s most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs agree that having a clear focus on a single objective can help you prioritise everyday tasks and ensure that all of your goals are met.
One of these entrepreneurs is Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google. Schmidt says: “I keep things focused. The speech I give every day is: 'This is what we do. Is what we are doing consistent with that, and can it change the world?'" By keeping in mind why your business exists, and what its primary mission is, you can adapt your days to pursue success.
At all levels of business, and no matter what the sector, distractions can hamper your ability to focus and get things done. While concentrating comes naturally to some people, others have to learn how to focus their mind to stay engaged on a single task for a long period of time.
The easiest way to develop your concentration is to be ruthless in removing distractions. No matter what helps you focus — be it locking the door to your office or playing loud music — keeping the mind free from unimportant distractions could boost your productivity tenfold.
Attending meetings and receiving updates from your assistant may be par for the course in business, but they can often lead to wasted time and a drop in productivity. While every business leader probably wishes they could give up on meetings, the easiest way to deal with day-to-day interruptions is to group them into a specific period so you can better organise your day.
For instance, if you need to prep your team or speak to your assistant, try to do both within the same time period. Essentially, don’t let distractions and interruptions control your schedule.
Recognising the power of your people, and understanding how to get the most out of them, is a crucial step on the road to business success. Here are a few habits to organise your workforce for maximum productivity.
Assigning tasks to your staff might sound easy, but handing responsibility over to others can be a steep learning curve. Successful delegation is a matter of trust and instinct, and the belief that you’ve made the right call during the recruitment process. If you avoid delegating, you’ll fast become overwhelmed by your individual workload — lessening your productivity and resulting in underperformance.
Start by examining people’s strengths and weaknesses, before assigning tasks which suit their workload. Then, monitor their progress to ensure the tasks are on track for completion. If you’ve selected the right person for the job, you’ll notice a palpable increase in productivity and have more time to concentrate on other more pressing tasks.
Recruitment isn’t a matter of bringing people in and letting them loose on your business. You need to make sure each person is adding value, and the best way to do that is develop good supervisory habits. Implement a system that lets you oversee the output of your people without being overly intrusive. As a rule, you need to inspect what you expect, and make sure every task is completed to a standard you’re happy with.
The best way to do this is with a reporting system, in which the person keeps you informed of the status of individual tasks and projects. Make sure they know exactly what is expected and when, and remember that the more important the task, the more often you should check its progress.
Seeing tangible progress is one of the biggest motivators for business leaders, and the same can be said for individual members of staff. By getting into the habit of reporting back to your staff and praising them for a job well done, you’ll boost their morale and keep them keen to work as hard on future tasks and projects.
And, keeping your people informed isn’t just good for morale. By reporting results regularly to key people within the business, you’ll increase the likelihood of spotting areas for improvement, and be better placed to come up with fresh ideas.
You may not know it yet, but that person you’ve recently recruited in a junior position could have the potential to change the shape of your business. That’s why it’s important to employ good workplace habits that increase the likelihood of retaining high-potential employees within your company over a long time period.
For small businesses in particular, it can be hard to strike a balance between gaining results and making the business a fun and motivating place to work. But, if you don’t take time to incentivise your people for their hard work, you could see them leaving for bigger and better things before they’ve unlocked their full potential. Of course, fair pay is the first place to start, but there are other things you can do to boost productivity — from flexible working hours to free hot drinks and social events.
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With hundreds of helpful tools at our fingertips, running a business is becoming easier than ever before. Here, we touch on several ways you can put technology to good use and boost your day-to-day productivity.
If, like many of us, you often struggle to juggle all of your day-to-day tasks, using a service like Trello or Basecamp can really help to keep abreast of your agenda. Essentially intelligent to-do lists, these web-based project management tools make it easy to keep track of all your business tasks, including major projects and the small chores you’d otherwise forget about.
By getting into the habit of checking your Trello boards or Basecamp projects each morning, you’ll know exactly what needs doing and when — ultimately boosting your productivity and making it easier to prioritise key tasks.
While technology and the internet has made life easier for business professionals, it has introduced new distractions and almost certainly made it easier to procrastinate. If you often find yourself being lured onto social media or into a Wikipedia wormhole, there is a solution that can get you back to the task at hand before too much time is lost, and that’s blocking digital distractions.
Given the prevalence of procrastination, there are now a number of tools designed to remove web-based distractions. One of the best is Focus, which blocks specific websites (Facebook, BBC etc.) for an allotted time — so you can stay focused for longer.
How much time do you waste each day checking your emails and responding to every message that enters your mailbox? For most business professionals, it’s a lot. While it can be all too easy to spend your day responding to incoming mail, this can be damaging to your productivity and can even result in missed deadlines.
Instead of being a slave to your email, you should dedicate an hour or two each day to reading and sending mail, and avoid your inbox outside of this allotted time. For this to work you should turn off notifications, and only respond to the most urgent messages. Setting rules on how you use your email will free up lots of time that can be spent in other areas of the business.
If you’re a small business leader who doesn’t have the luxury of an HR department or office manager, you probably spend a lot of time on mundane but important tasks like invoicing, payrolls and ordering office essentials. This can eat up a lot of your time, and hamper your progress in pushing the business forward.
Thankfully, there are now a number of tools and apps that you can use to make light work of these tasks, and you should get into the habit of using these to free up more of your time. Expensify, QuickBooks and mySupermarket are just a few of the apps you can use to complete essential chores quickly. For a full list of handy tools, check out our guide to the best apps for SMEs.
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