Whether you’re an established entrepreneur or have started your business recently, you know that in order to run a business successfully, productivity is key. And as a business owner, your foremost priority is to move the business forward. Accomplish meaningful work.
But amidst the constant juggling and distractions, you often end up feeling exhausted – without accomplishing anything substantial.
Three years back, I struggled through the same situation when I first started my business – with what I today see as little to no knowledge!
I quit a great job and founded my business because I had fallen in love with the idea of chasing my dream of helping people discover pure, raw honey and being my own boss. Doing my work at my pace sounded like an added bonus!
Soon after a couple months or so, I felt my excitement wasn’t enough – I had to do something about my productivity. I was bogged down with endless responsibilities on my shoulders: work, management, coordination, accounting, human resource and whatnot. Honestly, it was overwhelming.
And if you’re a procrastinator (me!), half of the battle is already lost there.
With my mind clouded with endless self-limiting thoughts and doubts, I started questioning my decisions.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve always relied on the power of learning. Desperate for answers, I started searching. Blogs, books, articles, interviews, Ted Talks, I latched onto everything I thought would help me improve my productivity and, in turn, my business profitability.
Today, after three years, I am fairly successful. I wouldn’t say HoneyVeda is a Fortune 500 enterprise – not even close – but my business is doing well. And I see lots of growth ahead and that makes me excited.
So, how did I turn around my situation? What did I do in these three years that helped grow my business and improve my productivity?
These are 5 tips that helped me channel my time and energy consciously and run my business more productively.
Before we get to the tips, let’s ponder on the meaning of productivity.
What do people think when they hear the word ‘productivity’?
For most, working endlessly is productivity. It is also believed that one should be productive throughout the day, everyday.
As a business owner, if you’re driving by this philosophy, your boat is going to sink soon.
We are not machines – we are humans. We have a limited amount of time and energy that we can devote. We all have the same number of hours in a day, but how we use them makes all the difference.
That’s why some entrepreneurs are successful and happy while others struggle with their time.
Develop a Deep Work Ritual
As a business owner, I read many books on how to improve my productivity and be a better leader for my team. But one book (or methodology) that stood out is the concept of Deep Work by Cal Newport.
According to neuroscientists, intense periods of focus and isolated periods of work release a white tissue called “myelin” in relevant brain parts. These tissues allow the brain to work faster.
Eminent people like Mark Twain, Bill Gates, and JK Rowling have achieved exceptional results with this productivity technique.
Deep Work Strategies to Improve Productivity
- Schedule Distractions: Fix a time during the day when you are free to sit with your distractions. Until then, focus on your work.
- Develop Deep Work Ritual: Set aside time each day or each week to engage in deep work. Alternatively, schedule it with periods of shallow work. The goal is to build up 4 hours worth of deep work practices every day.
- Evening Shutdown Ritual: Every evening, list down the unfinished tasks and a plan to accomplish them the next day. This will help you get a peaceful sleep and some feeling of control over the day.
After reading the book and putting the techniques into practice, I must admit – it has been one of my best reads. It definitely worked for me!
Take Advantage of Communication and Collaboration Tools
With the advent of the pandemic, my team’s workspace shifted 360 degrees. Previously I used to meet my team often (if not regularly) and interact with them personally. But then everything changed – and we had no choice but to undertake the business remotely.
Yes, it was highly distressing for me at first – thinking I was missing that “human touch” with my employees.
But with time, as I started leveraging a few applications for my team coordination, file sharing, and tracking – I got the hang of it. And today I must admit, I’m grateful to the innovation of collaboration software and cloud-based communication.
As my workforce is getting back to normal, we are still taking full advantage of these tools and techniques we learned during that phase.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate!
When you’re running a small business with a few employees, it’s important to know their core competencies.
As a leader you can’t – and shouldn’t – expect to accomplish all on your own. Delegation builds trust, empowers your employees, makes them responsible- while you retain the authority and control over it.
Based on your employees’ interest and expertise, delegate some of your to-do tasks to them. Soon you will notice that you’re ticking off those tasks without even stressing over them.
Instead, focus your time and energy on accomplishing tasks that are a priority. Anytime you feel side-tracked, ask yourself these two questions:
1. Is this important for me?
2. Can I trust someone else with this?
And there you go – you’ll have your answer!
Monitor, Measure Tweak, Repeat
One major mistake small business owners (including me!) often make – is resistance to change. Most aspiring entrepreneurs start with some ideas in mind but often leave disappointed after not getting the desired results. And that’s perfectly fine.
As a business owner, you must be willing to change and adjust to the flow. Everything that you thought would work perfectly may not always happen. But as long as you are willing to tweak and experiment with different ideas with an open mind, the productivity of your business will improve automatically.
Remember, no one has all the answers. You experiment, you learn, and you adapt!
I know this tip may come across as cliché – but trust me, this is one of the best pieces of advice I can share from my personal experience.
There were days when I felt frustrated and wanted to give up on everything. But a single decision to take some time off work and go for a walk changed my mood and kicked off my motivation rightly.
You can do anything. Go stroll down the park, take a long drive or enjoy some time with family. Just go out and take a breather. It will calm you and will make you feel grounded.
Before You Leave…
These productivity tips are not jotted from any internet sources. These are the tips that I used (and still use) to keep my and my team’s productivity level high.
I’m not claiming these are “gospel truths” that will elevate your productivity immediately. But with consistency, I assure you will become more focused and dynamic. You will be able to impart your best to those areas that matter most.
Tweak them and adjust them according to your working style and your business model. You’re bound to succeed!