When setting up or running a small business your workload can become overwhelming! Administration, accounts, advertising, social media, communication, meetings, not to mention the actual day job, can leave entrepreneurs with a to do list as long as the M4.
But there are steps you can take to combat this work overload headache.
Here are five top tips to help you become more productive:
- 1. Batch Task
Do you ever find yourself with multiple web pages open, flicking between Twitter, emails and spreadsheets. This type of behaviour may make you think you are multi-tasking but is actually making you less productive. In fact psychologists estimate multi-tasking may make you 40% less productive.
A great strategy for tackling this is batch tasking. Divide all the jobs you have to do into batches, for example, social media, email, accounts, research, calls etc. Give each batch an allocated time slot and then stick to it! Not only will this make you more productive it will also help you to feel calmer and more in control of your workload.
2. Complete an 80/20 analysis
This is a technique favoured by many highly successful entrepreneurs including Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-hour workweek. It is based on a theory called the Parento principle which says that only 20% of what you actually do produces 80% of the desired results.
Using this technique is an excellent way to work out what you need to prioritise and focus on. The idea is to analyse all the ways you spend your time so you can identify which activities are producing the key results. You then focus on those tasks while trying to eliminate or outsource the rest.
Here is a handy step by step guide to undertaking an 80/20 audit.
3. Delegate or outsource all that you can
Another advantage to batching jobs and completing an 80/20 analysis is being able to identify parts of your workload which could be outsourced to others. No one is perfect at everything and there may well be jobs you are currently doing which could be done to a higher standard at a faster rate by someone else.
With your workload neatly divided into batches you may well see that those accounts which have been driving you mad, or the social media tasks which currently take you five hours a week could be outsourced to an expert to do in half the time. Sites like weliketowork provide UK freelancers who can take care of your administration, social media, accounts and a range of other tasks. Not only does this save you time and money it also gives you peace of mind knowing your affairs are in the hands of a professional.
4. Avoid decision fatigue: automate the little things
Psychologists recognise that decision making uses up mental energy. Running your own business can be great but overall responsibility for your business, yourself and your staff can mean you have a hundred decisions to make before your mid morning tea break.
And this can get wearing.
The key is to automate the mundane parts of your day freeing yourself up to focus on the things that matter. For example, always leaving your keys in the same place, having the same morning routine or eating lunch at the same time.
It’s a technique used by the great and the good. Barack Obama is said to always wear a grey or blue suit and hits the gym at the same time every morning so he doesn’t have to think about these parts of his day.
- 5. Know thyself: recognise your peak times and plan your day accordingly
Some of us work best in the mornings while others are typical knight owls. The trick is to understand how and when you are at your peak and use that time to its optimum. If you are a morning lark, rise early and tackle the tricky jobs first thing. Trudging through emails can be saved for later in the day when your head doesn’t feel as clear.
Night owls can save their most difficult tasks for the evening thereby getting a head start on the next day.
The trick is to understand yourself and how you work best. After all, playing to your personal strengths is what being your own boss is all about.
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