Small Business Productivity Tools and Tips
Ever have one of those days (or weeks) where you’re just dragging and can’t muster up the motivation to do anything productive? Ever dream of super helpful productivity tools that could help?
Of course, you have! We’ve all had days like that. Even those (seemingly perfect) people on an unmentionable image sharing platform, get them too.
The problem with the unproductive day(s) when owning a small business is evident. They set us back on projects, which allows other things to pile up and the cycle repeats itself until we get “caught up.”
But are we ever really caught up?
Well, the naysayers say no and to an extent they’re right. However, I like to think that certain things will always be a work in progress, while other smaller time-consuming tasks can be automated.
In other words, there are things we small business owners will never finish. Things like making our businesses continually better, improving relationships with clients and striving to offer better products and services.
The things that we can get caught up with involve improved workflows, eliminating time-consuming paper-pushing tasks, etc.
What are we to do about it? Well, to help you get started, I wrote this post based on some things that have helped me get things in order and a couple of tools that I’ve used.
Utilize Tech to Boost Productivity
With technology evolving at an ever-increasing pace, new tools and productivity apps are continually being rolled out. With that said, productivity tools are one of those technologies.
Wise time management is the key to being productive.
It’s important to free up as much time as possible by getting rid of distractions that eat up time.
Then, after we are free of distractions, and become more productive, we use that time to add more to our list that we need to optimize…again.
It’s a vicious cycle! Anyway, see where I’m going with this?
Eliminate as many distractions as possible!
Where do you start? First, focus on the “attention-grabbers”! (The ones that have nothing to do with your real priorities!)
Queue the super adorable kitten videos on YouTube! (kidding!)
The trick is to set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. (no fun, but necessary!)
Examples of distractions that grab our attention:
- Messaging Apps
- Phone Calls
- Avoid the unimportant/unnecessary ones
- Random Conversations
- Pop-up notifications (fix these in browser settings)
The other side of distraction is when knowingly spending time on tasks unrelated to what you’re doing. AKA: Procrastination or Outgoing Distractions.
Examples of Outgoing Distractions:
- “Needing” to check on “stuff.”
- Watching Video Content
- Entertainment Purposes (cat videos)
- Social Media
- Random news
- Reading comments
- Random Searches on Google
- Answering Random Thoughts
- Looking at Random Pictures
- Talking to People (You taking other people’s time)
- Telling Gossip
- Starting Random Conversations
- Smart Phone
As you can see, there are many types of distractions grabbing your attention away from what matters.
Make To-Do Lists
In the past, I’ve been very guilty of not adding stuff to my list, only later to find out something needed to be turned in several weeks before.
(Don’t let the pride of your super memory get in the way of making a to-do list.)
Everyone forgets at some point and time, don’t let this simple mistake take control. It only results in backtracking.
Anyway, making a to-do list is rather simple, and it can improve your efficiency just by reinforcing the notion that you have something important to do. However, depending on how you make your list can either be helpful or not (post-it notes are one of my guilty pleasures).
Create a Schedule
Just because we work for ourselves, doesn’t mean we get to escape the “confinement” of schedules! Calendars, plans, and deadlines help us to stay organized and on track to reach goals.
First of all, make a schedule yourself!
Don’t have an assistant do it. Who else knows what your priorities are better than you, the business owner?
Secondly; consider how often emergencies pop up for your business.
Unless you offer “emergency crisis consultation” or provide “on-the-fly” services, why are you sabotaging your schedule?
This is where the post-it notes come in!
Seriously. Baby steps!
Write down your priorities on a post-it, prioritize and then schedule them, but not so fast!
As you go through with making your to-do list, you’ll want to put your todos in rank order.
To keep it simple, have the number be between 1 and 3. One means that it’s highly essential, two = it can wait (but needs to get done ASAP), and three = not a priority.
Disclaimer: It’ll take some time before you figure out the difference in priority levels between each and you’ll probably see more 2s and 3s on your schedule at first.
Let’s say you’re setting up a new website for your software company and this is what you need to do:
- Take screenshots of software
- Check e-mail
- Find Website Host
- Pick a CMS
- Figure out a theme
- Register URL
- Watch Youtube for Marketing How-Tos
- Schedule Consultations for Clients
- Check Social Media Page for Replies
How would you prioritize the above items? (example below)
How you prioritize is going to heavily depend on what your business needs, what your job requires, etc. If I were to prioritize and schedule some of the things I do on a daily basis, then my priorities would look something like this:
- 2 – Take screenshots of software
- 2 – Check e-mail
- 1 – Find Website Host
- 1 – Pick a CMS
- 2 – Figure out a theme
- 1 – Register URL
- 3 – Watch Youtube for Marketing How-Tos
- 1 – Schedule Consultations for Clients
- 2 – Check Social Media Page for the Business
After you’ve put your priorities in rank order, it’s time to schedule them! Here’s an example of how you can set up the schedule based on a typical 9AM-5PM day, Monday – Friday.
Productivity Tools to get Workflows in Order
So why are we going from post-its to apps? Well, now that you have your priorities figured out and the schedule you want, nix the calendar and try these two tools! (you’ll see what I mean in a second)
When you use this tool and complete tasks, you earn “karma” points that show your daily and weekly progress.
Why is that important?
Well, the points system works surprisingly well! As you rack up points, you’ll begin to see a dip in productivity if you don’t complete as many tasks as the day before. So in a way, it holds you accountable, and you realize it. The more you use Todoist, the more this feature matters.
Another neat feature is you can create projects or workflows (that contain tasks within them). For example, if you have something that you do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, you can set a reminder, so it reoccurs at a specific time! Which means, you no longer have to keep manually adding the todos to your daily calendar! Once you check off the task, it reschedules itself automatically for the next date.
The name says it all! RescueTime is a neat productivity tool that helps you to spot out problem areas in your daily schedule and gives you stats on how you delegate time throughout the day. It may be a little embarrassing to find out that you watch 30 hours of cat videos a week but hey at least it won’t tell anyone! Plus, you’ll know what you need to improve!
Another neat feature is you can set different websites (and apps) as very distracting, distracting, neutral, productive and very productive. Then it begins keeping track of how much time you spend on each one and compiles it into an easy to understand daily overview.
That’s all for now!
So there you have it, a few quick ways to improve your overall time management with productivity tools to get your schedule back on track! In the meantime, check out the below posts for more time management tips and stay tuned for additional UGH! Media blog posts. As always, feel free to follow us on Twitter!
- Save time by nixing these 4 things off your digital marketing todo list
- Things to do before making an inbound marketing plan
- How to move your blog forward with writer’s block
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