Three ways to boost productivity in your small business

Want to work less and earn more? Read on for three ways you can boost the productivity of your business. 

If you want to make your business more profitable, you need to be able to sell more to customers, or serve more clients, while keeping the resources required (such as time, people and money) as low as possible. 

And one way to achieve this is by boosting the productivity of your business. When you work smarter, you can help more people and sell more products, while needing fewer employees, reducing your costs and cutting down on the the time spent. 

Trethowans
Trethowans

So what can you do to make your own business more efficient? If boosting your productivity was that easy, you’d already be doing it, right? To help you, we’ve put together three proven suggestions to try. 

1) Use Focus Blocks to work in flow

How much time does it take you to start working? Maybe you make a coffee before sitting down to work. Perhaps you give your desk a quick tidy. Adjust your laptop screen until it’s ‘just so’. Then of course you need to check any new emails or social media alerts before starting on your to-do list. 

In reality, a fairly healthy chunk of what we designate as work time is spent getting into work mode. And the work mode we need to be in will change depending on the tasks we’re doing. So, for example, recording Instagram reels uses a different part of our brain to processing invoices. And writing blogs uses another part of our brain again. 

Each time we switch between tasks, we need to activate a new part of our brain, and warm it up. All of which wastes valuable work time. 

So it makes more sense to group similar tasks together and tackle them in one go, when your brain is already warmed up. This is known as getting into a state of flow. You’ll find you can get much more done when you group tasks together like this as you don’t need to waste time between them. 

One technique for leveraging this state of flow is called Focus Blocks. The creator of them goes as far as to claim you can get eight hours of work done in 90 minutes when you use them! Here’s how they work:

  • Pick your tasks – Choose similar tasks you want to get done in your Focus Block. For example, admin, or writing blogs and social media posts. 
  • Set a clear goal – Pick a clear goal that you want to achieve in 90-minutes. Make it reasonably ambitious, but also achievable.
  • Chunk your goal into steps – Once you’ve chosen your goal, chunk it into steps. This gives you a to-do list to work towards and keep you on track.
  • Eliminate interruptions – Ensure there are no interruptions while you work. Tell people you can’t be disturbed and turn off your phone and email.
  • Set the clock – Set your clock or timer for 90 minutes and get started. It can help motivate you to promise yourself a reward when you have finished. 
  • Work fast – Allow the pressure of having just 90 minutes to complete your goal to motivate and energise you and work quickly. 

Once you start using Focus Blocks you’ll quickly realise how much you get done in them, and they could become your favourite, go-to productivity tool. 

2) Make the most of automation tools

We’re luck today in that there are so many small businesses free web tools available that can help us to do far more in far less time. So if you haven’t already investigated automation options for your business, now is the time to start. 

Automation tools are technology or software that makes it possible for you to take shortcuts, work smarter and even let the tech do the work for you. Often they take a small amount of time to set up, but repay you with much more time saved once they are up and running. 

Some of the most popular automation tools enable you to:

  • Send pre-written and scheduled email sequences that are triggered by a customer action
  • Convey information from one software tool to another, and even trigger an action
  • Easily create your own design templates to use for social media and marketing
  • Store, share and send documents, images and large files

These are just a few of the ways that automation tools make it easier to run a more productive business. So if you aren’t already making the most of them, we recommend investigating which can work for you. 

3) Use the do, ditch and delegate exercise

How much of the time you spend in your business, or your employees spend on their work, is genuinely productive? In other words, uses your most valuable skills and brings as much value (and money) to your business as it can? 

The reality is that most people spend large parts of their work time on tasks they don’t enjoy and therefore don’t give 100% to, that don’t use their most valuable skills, that take them too long to do, and don’t offer much value or financial reward to the business. 

Tasks that it would be much better, and more productive, if they were either done by someone or something else (maybe automation), or ditched completely. 

So how you can tell what you SHOULD be working on instead? We have an exercise that will show you exactly that! 

To get started, make a list of every single task you or your employee does in a working week. Then draw five columns at the end of the list, and grade each task as high medium or low for:

  1. How much time it takes
  2. How much you enjoy it
  3. How good you are at it
  4. How much it benefits the business
  5. How much profit it makes

Then analyse the results to identify:

  • Tasks you should keep doing
  • Tasks you should ditch
  • Tasks you should outsource or delegate

The sweet spot for a task is one that doesn’t take much time, you enjoy and are good at, and has a benefit or makes money for the business. 

A task that could be outsourced is one that maybe takes a lot of time, you aren’t good at and don’t enjoy, but is beneficial or makes money for the business. 

And a task that might be worth ditching is one that maybe takes a lot of time, you aren’t good at and don’t enjoy, and has low value for the business. 

Use the insights you gain from this exercise to make changes that will boost your business productivity – and profitability as a result.