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10 Productivity Tips for Small Businesses | Bath Portrait Photographer

Increasing productivity in your small business.

Small Business Productivity Tips

The holy grail of everyone's working life is to work smarter - less actual work for more return. But how do we achieve it? Everyone's going to have a different list, but I reckon this one is as good a place to start as any! I can be a total procrastinator when left to my own devices and I need some structure when it comes to planning my working day. And I need variety, too.

  1. Do your most important work first. First thing in the morning, when I'm thinking about what lies ahead, there are usually one or two things that I absolutely have to get done that day. There can be a ton of other stuff on the to-do list, but usually one or two must-dos. Often, these can be the most difficult/annoying/time-consuming and if you have any kind of procrastination streak in you, you might be tempted to something more enjoyable first. DON'T! Get the important or unpleasant stuff out of the way first: it's often the stuff that will help you move your business forward.

  2. Understand how you're spending your time. Make sure you are focusing on the bigger picture, as well as on the task on front of you. With whatever you do, try to think about the short-term and long-term effects on your business.

  3. Multitask the right way. Less haste, more speed is the key. In my experience, multitasking can be risky: you run the risk of trying to keep too many balls in the air, and everything comes crashing down. Try to focus on one thing at a time, and envision the end result. One of Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to 'begin with the end in mind' - start with mental creation, then move on to physical creation. One of the coolest ways to multitask is by listening to podcasts or audiobooks while you do other work. You can see a nice infographic of Covey's habits at the end of this article.

  4. Set realistic goals. Seems an obvious one, but ambitious people can run the risk of spreading themselves too thin. Make sure you have clear and manageable goals for the short and longer term, and a roadmap to make sure you can achieve them.

  5. Utilise processes. This is to do with workflow, time management and organisation. Anything that can be systematised and repeated is going to work wonders for your productivity at work.

  6. Batch your time. Batching your time is a good way of making sure you get an opportunity to get done things which absolutely must get done. Try to set aside an hour or two when you can work undisturbed on stuff like problem-solving and brainstorming - this is an effective way of achieving a lot in a short space of time.

  7. Use tools to help you stay organised. Everyone needs help to get and stay organised, some more than most! There are some cool online tools to help you get the most out of your work day and stay productive. Evernote is a favourite way of keeping links and documents safe across your devices. Trello is an online app that allows individuals or teams to work through projects in an efficient, collaborative and organised way. Workflowy is a cool online app to help to take control of lists and tasks. I run my photography business with the help of 17 Hats, which is fabulous for streamlining processes, my calendar and finances.

  8. Don't allow thing to interrupt you through the day. Try to create a work environment that is conducive to getting things done. The internet is a constant source of time wasting, so you could set aside specific times when you check emails. If you had two slots when you dealt with emails (ignoring them the rest of the day), you might find you were more focused and wasted less time - if you can't commit to this, at least resist the temptation to keep refreshing your inbox all the time (you'll waste tons of time deleting spam emails)! Similarly, do not deal with personal text messages/Whatsapp etc. during your working day. Put your phone onto airplane mode if you have to!

  9. Say 'no', or delegate tasks. Saying 'no' is sometimes the hardest thing to do, especially if you're the kind of person who enjoys helping people. Try to say 'no' to non-essential things which can end up being a drain on your time and energy. Delegating work is also a great way to prevent pressure from building up on any one person. In small businesses (especially if there's only one person) there can be a tremendous pressure to manage everything yourself - allow others to help where possible. A related area is balancing your commitments - saying no to unimportant things allows you to get things done, enjoy spending quality free time with those you love and avoiding burnout.

  10. Get things ready the night before. This was something I was constantly nagged about when I was at school. But it works. Get your bag ready, make sure you know what appointments are ahead of you tomorrow and finally, when you get into bed switch off your phone or anything else that might keep you awake with lights or buzzing!

Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.