As a small business owner, time can be your most valuable asset. That’s why it’s essential to find ways to make the most of it.
We asked several experienced CEOs from both medium-sized and small businesses for their best advice for how small business owners can maximize their productivity. Here are their top tips.
1. Find the right balance
Busier doesn’t necessarily mean more productive. Gabriel Shaoolian, the founder and CEO of DesignRush, a company that helps businesses find design services, says not overdoing it has been the key to boosting his productivity.
“It’s counterintuitive, I know,” Shaoolian says. “But you won’t be any good for your business if you burn yourself out, work yourself sick, or bring down the energy of your team. To stay productive, you need to find a proper work/life balance. Establish a routine and stick to it. And while you’re making sure you hit your work goals, make sure you’re also leaving time for yourself and your family.”
To help maintain balance, Shaoolian lists weekly tasks on Monday, and then takes time every night to outline the next day’s tasks, and find ways to fit in personal time as well.
“This will keep you moving forward and hitting targets but also help make sure you’re still doing things you love,” he says. “Spend time with family, read a book, go to a class—whatever you love doing and can get your mind off of work for a few hours, you need to take full advantage of.”
2. Focus on your top task—then delegate the rest
He now focuses the vast majority of his time and energy to making sure his company’s sales process—the ultimate driver of revenue—is top shape.
“I outsource the rest to others,” Kolbaba says. “I feel that sales are the No. 1 life force for any business. If your phones are ringing and your staff or you are closing deals, then I have done a good job with my business. Without sales, a business can't run effectively.”
3. Make the most of your smart phone to boost productivity
Grainne Kelly, founder and CEO of BubbleBum, an inflatable car booster seat, uses her smart phone as a productivity tool. She relies on her microphone dictation feature to capture ideas in the moment and keep an updated to-do list.
Also, if your business takes you on the road often, it can pay to make good use of those hours spent behind the wheel. On longer distance drives, make sure you put safety first with a reliable hands-free set up, and then schedule some calls that don’t require you to take notes or focus on anything other than the road.
“This method has really helped me stay on top of everything I need to do for my business.” Kelly says.
4. Create your own productivity tricks
Look for simple ways to boost your productivity and keep yourself focused on priorities. That’s what Dave Munson, CEO of Saddleback Leather, has done with great results. His three best productivity tips include:
- Give yourself false deadlines to create urgency and hold yourself accountable. “I sometimes tell the person needing my productivity, ‘I give you my word, I'll have this to you on Thursday by noon.’” Munson says.
- Wake up early. If you’re a morning person, setting the alarm a little bit earlier can open up an undistracted hour or two for pressing work that requires concentration.
- Stash your phone. Turn your phone off or move it to another room for a set period of time to avoid checking every text or notification.
5. Sleep tight— and wake up right
To make the most of your waking hours, improve your sleeping ones. That’s Jason Patel’s key to optimal productivity. The CEO of Transizion, a college and career prep company, Patel eliminates screen time two hours before going to bed. He puts his phone in another room to resist the urge to check email or get lost in social media. Then he typically reads a book that has nothing to do with business to relax before falling asleep.
“The cliché of the CEO who works all day and doesn't sleep is just that—a cliché—and it's a destructive one,” Patel says. “You need to get six to eight hours of sleep to really scale your productivity and let your creative juices flow.”
Patel has found to get the maximum benefit of a good night sleep, it’s important to develop a wake-up routine as well. For him, that means avoiding going right to his phone.
“That’s starting your day on defense, on your heels,” Patel says. “Instead, perform breathing or meditations that will help you slow down, clear your mind, and get ready for the day.”
Find your own path to productivity
Whether it’s maximizing your sleep, finding the right balance, or learning how to delegate more effectively, taking steps to enhance your productivity can reap significant benefits. The key is to consistently look for new ways to make the most of your valuable time. The result can be big win for your business.