Productivity is something that should be on every small business owner’s Profit & Loss statement.  It can have one of the biggest impacts to your bottom line.  Trying to run a small business and be productive can lead to long hours in which little work gets done. It is not usually laziness that is the problem, but lack of focus and direction that halts productivity. However, making simple changes to your daily routine can increase the amount of work that gets done, often leading to shorter, more focused working hours and a bigger bottom line.

Create a Daily Planner

If you try increasing productivity without a plan, you are fighting a losing battle. Your plan will be one of your most valuable assets in avoiding distractions, so try to have a number of them based on long- and short-term strategies. It can help if you set daily tasks at the end of each day, allowing you to get started first thing in the morning. It might not be possible to stick to the plan completely, but you might find your work is more focused.

Start with the Important Tasks

Your motivation is not limitless, and over the course of the day it gradually gets used up. Setting yourself the toughest, most valuable tasks for the beginning of the day increases the likelihood they will get done, so try to set aside any busy work for the later stages. Following this method, the least important tasks can be rescheduled if you run out of time, but the most important things get completed.

Work in Two-Hour Blocks

When trying to increase productivity, some people try to work solidly for as long as they can manage. This is a sure way to burn yourself out, eventually leading to a large decrease in productive work. An effective method is to set aside two-hour blocks of time. First, complete 50 minutes of work, then take a break for 10 minutes; complete another 50 minutes, and then take an additional 10-minute break. After your two-hour block is over, either continue for a second block of time or take a slightly longer break if required.

Write Everything Down

Low productivity usually goes hand in hand with poor organization. Writing your schedule down allows you to stay on track, giving you an aerial view of your schedule. Some people like to use the old method of a pen and paper, but there are plenty of modern software programs that will organize everything for you, including such handy apps as timers and reminders.

Schedule Email Time

There are countless distractions in any working day, but email might be the most unproductive. For many entrepreneurs, constantly checking email is a habit they can’t shake off. Ultimately, checking emails leads to you responding to them as they come in, and this halts any work that requires complete focus. It is far better to set aside fixed times for dealing with messages, closing down your email program outside of these set times.

Take Regular Computer Breaks

It might appear counterproductive to take frequent breaks, but looking at your computer for long periods can slow down the work process. Screen breaks can help freshen up your mind and body, allowing you to work solidly between breaks. There are also health benefits over the long term; many back, hand, and eye issues are caused by uninterrupted computer work.

Get Plenty of Rest

Putting in long hours is a given for many entrepreneurs, but the benefits of good rest should not be ignored. It is possible to work hard, achieve your daily goals, and still give yourself time to rest and recuperate. You may take your work home with you, but try to ensure you have stopped working long before going to bed. Allowing yourself time to switch off and unwind will freshen you for the following day.

While these techniques might appear simple, implementing them on a consistent basis can be hard. It is not always wise to completely overhaul your old working habits, with any one failure appearing amplified. Instead, changes should be made on a gradually, promoting consistency and dedication. Over time, productivity will improve, leading to better business results and hopefully a better life balance.

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