One of the important factors that impact profit is productivity. If you want to double your profit then you have to increase productivity as part of the process.
Remember, there are a lot of productivity tips out there. The key is to find the ones that work for you and make them habits.
What is Productivity?
I'm going to get a little technical here, but I think it's important to understand.
Productivity is the amount of output that a person, company, or organization produces in a given period of time.
For example, a restaurant's productivity is measured by the number of meals they can provide (output) based on a certain amount of input (staff, goods to make the meals, equipment, etc.). The more meals they can provide in a given period of time, the more customers they can serve.
We compute productivity by taking the units of the output divided by the units of the input. In other words:
Productivity = Output/Input
Why is productivity important to your small business? Let's take a look...
Importance of Productivity to Small Business Owners
Increased productivity can...
Increase customer loyalty
All customers expect your products or services to be delivered in a timely and efficient manner, and productivity plays a huge role in your ability to accomplish this.
When you not only meet but exceed customer expectations, you create happy and loyal customers.
Boost your profits
As small business owners, we want the maximum return on investment possible.
When your employees, systems, and processes are productive you can get more done with less...which means you'll make more money on everything you sell.
Create a competitive advantage over your competition
A productivity advantage over your competitors will translate into a competitive advantage.
When you can get more done with less than your competition it creates increased profits that allow you to outspend and out market your competition.
There is one important concept that affects PRODUCTIVITY - that is TIME.
The amount of time given to finish a specific task is a measurement of productivity. One cannot be justified without the other.
You can't measure productivity without calculating the amount of time spent to finish a task and without calculating time, it is difficult to tell if you have been productive.
There are two commonly used strategies that involve time - Time Leveraging and Time Management.
Now, let's take a look at time and how it can increase productivity.
What is Time Leveraging and How Does it Increase Productivity?
We only have 24 hours a day and many of us wish we had more.
Realistically, that 24-hour timeframe is often times not enough to finish all our tasks. So, what do we do to accomplish more? Leverage our time.
According to BusinessDictionary.com,
"Leverage is the ability to influence a system or an environment, in a way that multiplies the outcome of one's efforts without a corresponding increase in the consumption of resources."
In other words, time leveraging is a way of using the time you have to increase your productivity.
Leveraging applies to your own personal time or to the time of the people around you.
Let's take a look at some tips for leveraging your time.
7 Awesome Time Leveraging Tips
1. Write Your Ideas Down.
This simple tip not only applies to personal time but also to organizations. When our brains explode with bright ideas, we tend to rely on remembering them.
As humans, we forget things and the best way to combat this is to write down our ideas on a piece of paper, pc notepad, or smartphones.
Getting stuff out of your head lets you focus on more important tasks. It also allows you to go back to your ideas quickly when you need to without wasting a lot of time.
In today's business environment, it's easy to just go to work and jump into whatever tasks are on our desks.
This is easy to do but it is very unproductive. Try doing the following instead:
- Create a calendar of activities and sort your tasks from biggest to smallest.
- Set alarms for your meetings, email responses, project management, etc.
- Track and evaluate the results of your finished tasks.
3. Use Other People's Time.
First of all, using other people's time does not mean using people.
No one wants to be taken advantage of.
Here are a few ways you can use other people's time to leverage your time:
- Delegate Tasks - Assign tasks to your colleagues or subordinates. This will help you narrow down your workload to the more important ones while others are accomplishing tasks for you. It also helps develop people, it builds trust within the company, and it promotes a healthy and collaborative working environment.
- Train - You can't do it all. There are times when you need to train other people how to do some of the things you do that you really shouldn't be doing. Training people benefits your company tremendously. It makes people more productive, helps performance, improves product quality, and retains employees.
- Outsource - Outsourcing allows you to use resources outside your company to get things done. Sure, it's going to cost you money. But it eliminates training employees and the associated overhead of having employeees. It can be incredibly valuable using the expertise and knowledge of an outsider too.
4. Break Big Tasks into Smaller Chunks.
The idea of working on big tasks distracts us and it can be overwhelming. We sometimes forget to think of different ways about how to eliminate distraction to accomplish big projects. Part of time leverage is breaking big tasks into little pieces.
Eric Ravenscraft of LifeHacker.com said,
"When the overwhelming work becomes something small you can focus on, it becomes much easier to tackle and your focused-brain can hone in on exactly what you need to do. "
Read this article about How To Break A Big Task Into Small Steps to help you leverage time to your advantage.
5. Give Yourself a Break.
Take a break! Step away from your computer, stop checking your emails and quit checking your phone.
You deserve a break from all the clutter and stress that your daily work routine has caused. Plan a 15-minute break or a 1-hour lunch on a regular basis to allow your body to relax and reboot. Here are the benefits of taking a break from work:
- Breaks are memory boosters.
- Increases your efficiency.
- Can help with weight loss.
- Reduces the chances of on-the-job accidents.
- Help reduce stress.
6. Utilize Technology to Your Advantage.
One of my favorite tips to increase productivity is to use technology to leverage time.
Focus on using technology to accomplish the following:
- Automate tasks you are doing manually.
- Track where you are spending your time so you have visibility to where you can improve. Programs like RescueTime work great for this.
- Improve systems and processes in your business.
7. Never Stop Learning.
As small business owners, we should strive harder to grow both personally and professionally.
How do we do this? By leveraging our skills and by learning new skills. Productivity and learning go hand in hand.
When you learn new skills, consider how you can use those skills to be more productive.
What is Time Management?
Time management is an intelligent way to make sure you and everyone are always productive. It's the coordination of tasks and activities with skills and abilities at a given time.
Time management is the process of assigning, organizing and planning tasks to fit your busy work schedule. Managing your time means:
- Better productivity and efficiency.
- A better professional reputation.
- Less stress.
- Better chances of career advancement.
- Better work-life balance.
The goal is to get a lot of tasks done, in less time, without creating a lot of pressure. Time management helps small business owners work smarter and ensures you focus on the important (not the urgent) tasks. Failing to manage your time can lead to:
- Missed deadlines.
- Inefficient workflow.
- Poor work quality.
- Poor working demeanor.
- High-stress levels.
On that note, here are some great time management tips to help you.
7 Time Management Tips
1. Set Your Goals.
Setting your goals is a great way to manage your time. Knowing your priorities will make sure you are not wasting time by focusing on the wrong things. There are two main types of goals:
Short-Term - Goals you can achieve in 12 months or less. For example, redesign our website in the next 6 months.
Long-Term - Goals that usually take 12 months or more to achieve. For example, grow revenue to $5M in the next 5 years.
Set your short-term and long-term goals using the SMART methodology:
2. Prioritize Intelligently.
Time management allows you to sort your tasks according to their importance and urgency.
Labeling tasks according to these categories might be helpful for you (they are in highest to lowest priority order):
- Important and urgent - These tasks must be done immediately. They are time sensitive and require your full attention.
- Important but not urgent - These tasks are important but you can do them later if you have higher priority tasks to complete.
- Urgent but not important - Delegate these tasks because although they are urgent, they don't really have lasting value.
- Not urgent and not important - Do these tasks later or delegate them. They won't move the needle and help get you where you want to be.
3. Learn the Art of Saying "NO".
Whether you admit it or not, it is hard for most of us to say NO.
Many of us feel like we can't say no to our boss, a client, or a colleague! The "monkey on our back" tells us it's rude, unfriendly, or unprofessional.
I'm here to tell you it's not! You have to firmly say NO if:
- It doesn’t align with your long-term and short-term priorities.
- You disagree with the decision.
- It doesn’t help you accomplish a key goal.
- It conflicts with your values or you can’t deliver results.
Saying NO to less important tasks helps you manage your time more efficiently and effectively. Always keep in the mind, when you say YES to something you are saying NO to something else.
4. Always Plan Ahead.
A good way to beat an unproductive day at work is planning ahead. Tasks are easier and faster to accomplish when you have clear direction on what to do.
Create a to-do list and set alarms for your tasks. Planning ahead allows you to organize your day. Try these tricks:
The day or night before — Spend enough time to clear your desk and create a to-do list of the items that need to be finished.
First thing in the morning — When you turn on your PC, look at your to-do list and refresh your memory about what you have to do first. Then start banging out the items on your list.
Here's a great way to be productive and organize your work days.
5. Avoid Distractions.
Managing your time well involves avoiding distractions. Distractions can come from either work or home.
We all have personal problems but the best time to deal with them is when you're not at work. Work-related distractions are easier to deal with though. Try these steps:
- Work alongside productive people.
- Break tasks into chunks.
- Set boundaries with interrupting colleagues.
- Block online distractions.
- Make time for breaks.
6. Delegate Other Tasks.
As small business owners, it's our job to delegate tasks to our employees. Time becomes more manageable when we let others contribute to the success of our business. In a limited 24-hour timeframe, we need more hands to get things done.
Within your company, assign experts to do sales, marketing, accounting, and operations management.
You don't always have to be a one-man-army. Delegating tasks to your subordinates boosts productivity and promotes a healthy working environment.
Don't be afraid to outsource or hire partners if you don't have an employee for the job.
For example, as marketing consultants, our clients hire us to handle and manage their marketing for them. They find outsourcing their marketing makes a lot of sense. It's effective, efficient, money saving, and time-saving so they can focus on other aspects of their business.
7. Use Time Tracking Tools.
You can't look after everyone all the time. There are time tracking tools that can be there when you can't. These time tracking tools are great for monitoring productivity in terms of login time, idle time, break time, etc.
Here are some great time tracking tools to help you manage time:
Do You Need Both Time Leveraging and Time Management to be Productive?
Time leveraging and time management is like a pair of shoes. One is nothing without the other. We badly need both to increase productivity. These strategies make sure that you aren't wasting time and that your productivity level is at its highest.
Time leverage and time management apply to all levels or positions in a company. Managers and supervisors need their subordinates and tools to leverage time and subordinates need to manage their time to accomplish more. It also works the other way around.
Now it's your turn. I hope you can use some of these productivity tips to increase productivity in your company.
What tips did you like best? Feel free to comment below or share.
Header image courtesy of Pexels.com.