You are busy. Really busy. You are also happy to finally be working on your new company. But, there never seems to be enough time in the day to get done what is truly important. As a result, your new company suffers, and so does your family.
This is because the new business owner gets trapped in wanting to be everything to everyone in an effort to generate sales. But to be truly successful long term, new business owners need to focus their time and effort on a small set of objectives. In fact, new small business owners need to do less, not more.
This seems difficult because the to-do list only seems to grow. What makes it worse is the day is filled with constant interruptions. It becomes increasingly difficult for small business owners to get anything accomplished despite working longer hours. That makes small business owners confuse being busy working on their new company with being productive. Being busy is doing random stuff, but being productive is doing the important tasks that will make a difference.
Here is how to cut the busy work from your day, and replace it with actual productivity.
1. Pick Two ThingsDo not start the day by checking email, voice mail or social media feeds. These will suck you into directions that will keep you busy for the next hour. Do the hard stuff first. Start by completing two important tasks that must get done that day. Make sure whatever the tasks are, they will have a significant impact on your business and are part of a clear path to other goals and objectives. If these two tasks are completed, the day is a success.
2. Eliminate DistractionsThis includes the bells and buzzes to incoming emails, texts and social media posts from earlier in the day. Only check these information sources at set times during the day. If you lack discipline, use an app that turns off your access to the internet for a period of time.
3. Deal With Every Email OnceRead the email and take action on it. Do not save it for later or leave it in your inbox. Deal with it, then file it in the appropriate subfolder or set a follow-up if it is needed for later reference. Unsubscribe to email newsletters or notifications that you do not review on a daily basis. If you have not read it in a week, you probably don’t need it.
4. Spend Less Time Surfing the WebThe internet a time killing machine. Stay off Youtube, Facebook and Twitter unless you have a plan. This is the fastest way to kill your productivity since you can drift on these sites forever. At each login, know why you are going on these sites, how it will help your business and set a time limit for this activity.
5. DelegateDon’t try to do everything. Understand what tasks require your specific skills and delegate, hire or outsource the rest. Improving your productivity means utilizing freelancers or companies while allowing them to take full responsibility for the completion of tasks.
For all repetitive tasks, document a system that can be followed by others. If you do not do this, you will be stuck wasting time doing the same thing over and over again. With a documented process, you can train a person once and move on to the next task.
6. Set Up Systems
Procrastination wastes time and almost never pays off. Most people make decisions in an instant and spend the rest of the time justifying it. Make the tough decisions first. Say “no” more often than saying “yes.” Don’t even think about saying “maybe,” since it is just permission to revisit a given issue over and over again.
7. Make Decisions and Take Action
8. Focus on Doing One Thing at a TimeMultitasking can cause brain damage. The brain actually doesn’t do multiple things at one time, it just switches very quickly. This does not improve your productivity, only keeps you and your brain very busy.
9. Meet With PurposeDo not enter a meeting without a written agenda and a time limit. Turn off all smartphones or put them in the center of the table. In fact, if possible during short meetings, have everyone remain standing. The desire to not prolong their standing will motivate people into finishing meetings quicker. Document action items and assignments before leaving.
Being busy or working all the time is the fastest way to burnout. If technology has its way with us, most new small business owners would work 24/7. Set a time limit on work and ensure there are places in your daily life where you can recharge, stress-free.
Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.