When you’re starting a business, you’re wearing a lot of different hats. And the odds are, this isn’t the only thing on your schedule. You may already have a full-time job, and this is your side hustle, or have children that keep you busy (they’re masters of that!).
So when it comes to working on building your small business, it may feel like you just don’t have enough time in the day to get things done. The good thing is that you’re not the only one who struggles with this.
When building a business, most people battle with finding time to be productive. Luckily, you came to the right place. In this post, you’re going to learn important productivity practices that’ll help you reach your business goals and milestones.
You’ve probably made a to-do list that seemed endless—how did that go for you? Did you complete everything on that list? Or did you feel overwhelmed and soothed yourself by scrolling through Instagram?
Studies have shown that people perform better when they have their tasks for the day written down. But a to-do list can be counterproductive unless you do it right.
Instead of writing a giant list of things you need to do, limit the number of items on your to-do list and organize them by priority.
Choose 1 to 3 tasks that are crucial for you to complete during the day. Then the rest of your to-do list consists of tasks you can complete after the most important ones are done.
For example, your to-do list will look something like this:
1. Complete customer orders – priority
2. Order product materials – priority
3. Answer customer emails – priority
4. Create social media post for Instagram
5. Find a free email platform
6. Email website designer
The top three tasks on your list are ones you want to complete by the end of the day. The remaining tasks are optional to complete by the end of the day and can be done the following day.
You can also create your to-do list the night before if you’re someone who experiences work anxiety.
2. Build Habits To Help You Start Working
Your productivity revolves mainly around how you plan your time. That said, it’s crucial for you to build habits before you start working.
You don’t know how much time I’ve spent in front of my computer, wanting to work but unable to get myself started. I wasted a lot of time procrastinating (Keep Up With the Kardashians was my go-to) —and it’s a struggle many of us deal with.
To overcome this, you can create a routine that tells your brain it’s time to start working. For example, when I arrive at the office, I say hi to my colleagues, chat a little and grab a coffee on my way to my desk. Once I sit at my desk, I know it’s time to work. My desk is my trigger to get started with the day.
As a small business owner, there’s a high chance you’re building your business from the comfort of your home. It’s easy to get distracted, especially if you have children, a partner, or a pet around you—this is why you need a trigger.
A trigger to help you start working could be when your favorite tv show ends or after you eat dinner. It’ll be challenging in the beginning, but once this becomes a habit, these triggers will feel natural for you.
3. Build Habits To Help You Stop Working
Oh, don’t get me started on this one. Once you get in the zone and start working, it’s hard to stop. And if you’re someone who procrastinates, getting in the zone takes time.
But you can’t work non-stop; there needs to be an end time. Being productive also includes knowing when to stop working and having time to unwind from the day. If you don’t have boundaries, it’ll be another hour and another hour, and then you’ll look at your clock and see it’s 1 a.m.
You can create a wind-down routine to help you switch off work mode. This is absolutely essential if you’re looking for long-term results. Not having a structure for your day can lead to burnout (and you don’t want that).
A wind-down routine will help you switch off from work and transition to your personal life. First, decide what time you want to end the working day and stick to it. So, for example, if you choose to end work at 5 p.m., then every evening at 5 p.m. you stop working.
After that, choose an activity that can help you unwind, like working out, listening to music, journaling about your day, or going for a walk. Then, you can go on to enjoy your night as you wish. And boom! You have your wind-down routine.
For example, my wind-down routine goes like this: I finish working at 7 p.m., take my dog out for a walk while reflecting on the day and planning for the following day. Then I come home and cook dinner. Afterwards, my partner and I watch a couple episodes of The Office or go out and grab dessert.
Your wind-down routine can be whatever you want it to be. Note that it may take some time for you to find the best way to help you unwind from the working day.
4. Stop Multitasking (but Seriously)
We’ve all been taught that multitasking is the highest form of productivity, but it’s a lie.
A study from Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. And this is because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Participants lacked focus, couldn’t organize their thoughts, and were slower at switching between tasks.
Instead, with your to-do list in hand, focus on completing one task at a time—go down the list. It’ll help you reduce room for error and help you be more productive at your work.
5. Track Where You Waste Time
You’re wasting your time. I do it, you do it, we all do it. When there’s a task we don’t want to do, it’s amazing the lengths we’ll go to avoid doing it. I’ve spent hours on social media just to avoid writing an article (not this one, don’t worry).
But, to figure out where you’re wasting precious time, you need to track what you’re doing throughout the day. By identifying what you do, you can see how you can reduce the time spent on a particular activity.
For example, I waste a lot of time in the morning. I move like a snail and spend a lot of time drinking my coffee in front of the tv. I tracked my time and noticed I was spending almost 40 minutes in front of the tv (watching reruns, by the way).
Now, instead of doing that, I drink my coffee while sitting on my balcony without any electronic device. I enjoy my coffee without any distractions and manage to save myself 20 minutes.
Track how many hours you spend on social media (for non-work purposes) or on tasks that you don’t like doing. A solution can be allowing yourself a slot in the day to check your social media or outsourcing tasks you don’t enjoy to a Virtual Assistant.
To track your time, you can write your activities on a piece of paper, or you can use a time tracking app like RescueTime. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you track your time, just as long as you track it.
6. Be Aware of Your Weaknesses and Strengths
You may be great at social media, but when it comes to bookkeeping, it isn’t your thing. And that’s okay! You don’t need to be a pro at everything.
But what’s important is you know what you enjoy doing and what you don’t. Have you ever done something you don’t want to do? It can suck hours out of your day. As a small business owner, every minute counts.
So, instead of wasting your time on tasks you don’t enjoy, outsource them to someone who can complete them for you, like a freelancer or Virtual Assistant. If you don’t have the budget, see if you can connect with an intern who’s looking to build their portfolio.
For more information about outsourcing, here’s a list of outsourcing websites you can use when you need an extra hand.
Being productive isn’t easy to do, start with your to-do list and go from there. You’ll be able to see how much work you have during a typical day and can then start to track your time. With time, these tips will become daily habits and you’ll find that you’ll accomplish much more and work consistently towards your small business goals and milestones.
This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.
Natasha Ivanovic is a Vancouver-born creative writer that started her writing career as a freelancer while studying for her Master’s in Investigative Psychology. On the weekends, she writes short stories for her blog, TheLonelySerb, and cuddles with her bulldog, Bob.