Who doesn’t want (or need) to be more productive? But, how do you actually do it? Read on for a few tips on how to come out guns blazing…

1 Identify key performance areas

Are you working away really hard at tasks that you believe are important, without checking that they are a good use of your time and essential for business success? To up your productivity, set time aside to consider the four areas that you believe are key to your “job” as a business owner. You may be surprised at what you discover…

2 Tackle priorities

Do you have a plan? Or, do you simply tackle whatever heads your way and focus on whoever shouts the loudest? Test whether what you are doing makes a real difference to the business; what would happen if you left it for a day (or altogether!)?

Is your life driven by your email inbox? Set your calendar as the default and plan times in the day to focus on answering email; attending to priority tasks etc.

We often choose to do the things we like rather than the things that are priority. Tackle the tough, essential tasks first, then reward yourself with the balance of the day to do the things you like. If you start the other way around, the heavy stuff will prey on your mind… and impact your productivity.

If you need structure and discipline, question whether there is any consequence or reward for you regarding your priorities? If not, set some.

3 Make sure you’re on top of your workload

Are you overworked? Why? Is there someone you can ask to assist you? Asking questions is a much more useful way to gather information than making statements and expecting solutions.

Maybe it’s time to set boundaries. Business owners are serious culprits in this area. If you work more than ten hours a day, there is a diminishing return. When does your laptop switch off? When do you stop taking business (or other) calls? When do you make time
for family, sport, exercise? Set a daily/weekly/monthly finish time and ask someone to make sure you stick to this. Have you set an hour to do something just for yourself?

4 Shake things up

Boredom is synonymous with routine. Shake it up. If you find your work environment ordinary, start making changes. Get a plant or a goldfish, move your desk, paint the wall, get some daylight.

Set project goals. These must be something you can get your teeth into that will allow you to grow and help the company. Set development goals – what can you learn in the next six months? Are there short (or longer) courses you can study? Is someone going on leave and are there different things they do that you might learn from?

5 Learn to delegate to ensure productivity

Perhaps no-one can do the task as well as you. What is the company standard and what is yours? Are you spending time on giving specifics to the decimal point when all that you are being asked for are ballpark figures?

Are you doing work that should be done by someone at a lower cost per hour? Are you cheating someone out of a growth opportunity because you won’t take the time to mentor them? There is an amazing freedom and satisfaction in learning the skill of delegation. Try it.

6 Recognise your limitations

Sometimes our productivity dips because we don’t have the necessary skills or experience. It’s tough to realise this and we may fear the consequences. Recognise your limitations and source people who can help. You’re probably not the first person to face this particular challenge. Is there an organisation you can join of like-minded or industry-specific individuals, or a network of business owners, a professional body, tertiary learning institutions or perhaps a colleague or a manager who can offer assistance? If you ask for advice, people will seldom reject you.

7 Make sure your attitude is right

How often do we hear: I’d rather work with someone with a good attitude, even if they don’t have all the skills. A bad attitude is a disease that gnaws at business. Address it early by taking the person aside, expressing your observations, setting the standards of what is acceptable and offering assistance/resources to get back on track.

Recognise if you are the one spiraling into a negative pit and make a conscious decision to change immediately. Surround yourself with positive people, speak encouraging language, invest in others and make a difference.

Many years ago I heard a radio presenter ask: How do you eat an elephant? The answer: in bite size chunks. I’ve never forgotten that. So what will you chew on today?