If you’re a small business owner, then much of what I’m going to talk about will resonate with you. If you’re running your own show your time is limited whether it’s just you or you have a small team. Yet you have so many actions to complete. You’re spinning so many different plates from the actual from sales to client services and admin to marketing. How can you possibly fit it in? I have spent years trying to find a way that I could improve my productivity. At the beginning of this year I found it!

I’m an avid reader of business books as I believe they are a great help you move your business forward. Each one gives you something that you can take away and action. At the turn of the year, I read The One Thing by Gary Keller and it became clear to me that I was simply not being effective with my time. I’ve now changed my routine completely and can complete more tasks accordingly just by making a few simple changes.

I am always open to new ideas so this isn’t fixed in stone. I see it as an evolving strategy but let me share my recipe for success with you!

Try time-blocking

Who knew that time-blocking could have such a massive effect on my productivity? It’s been the silver bullet for me. It’s amazing how simply putting a time limit against tasks can transform your productivity. Gary Keller is my inspiration here.

Each week I put events in my diary that can’t be moved. For example, I hold a Live in my Facebook Group at 1pm every Wednesday so this is immovable. This could apply to if you can only work certain hours say if you have children at school or nursery. I also add some time in for exercise (see more below). Social media is important to me so I time-block an hour for this each morning. Sometimes it takes less than an hour so that’s a win and gets me some time back! I have a client work block from 9.15-12.15 for three hours and I aim for all client calls to take place in that time. I have a similar block of work in the afternoon but that typically focuses on doing client work so it could be media-selling, writing and creating content, strategy planning etc.

There are other techniques such as the Pomodoro technique where you set a timer for activities, but I find the time-blocking works really well for me. Sometimes it’s a blend of techniques but you have to find out what works best for you. Be open to adjusting if necessary.

Have a To-Do List

I love an action list! I love the act of ticking things off. It’s a great sense of achievement. Sometimes you don’t complete everything but that’s ok – don’t beat yourself up. If there is one action that’s a priority, then put it at the top. The trick for me is to write the action the list the day before so that your mind is already set for the day-ahead. Starting the day with writing an action list can be tedious and demoralising! There is something rather nice about writing the list the previous day knowing that you don’t have to make a start on it immediately.

Plan Ahead

Have a plan for whatever you are doing and choose a way to track that plan. If you’ve got some big tasks, then write them down. With a plan in place and a way of tracking it, you can see how successful you have been. Add numbers to your plan. These could be financial goals such as sales and they could also be your visibility goals such as social media followers on a particular platform or growing your Facebook. I like Trello and keep everything logged in there from my content to my strategy. I can easily access it on the go through my mobile device. Being able to see how far you have come, what you need to do to improve will have a huge impact on your productivity.

Outsource some tasks

Have you heard the phrase ‘master of all trades jack of none’? I think it’s a trap that’s easy to fall into. We can learn how to do all the tasks related to running a business, but can our time be better spent elsewhere? I am learning this – I now outsource any major design work as it simply takes me too much time. I am also looking to work with an SEO specialist as I know that this will help push my business forward. In time I might also look for support scheduling social media. What could you outsource that could increase your productivity? It might be totally unrelated to work, for example, domestic chores. You need to analyse whether your time could be better spent elsewhere. If outsourcing is a better option then you should consider it.

Take time out

I’m a massive advocate of taking time out and for me, that means getting outside in the fresh air every day. I either go for a walk or get out on my mountain. For you, it could be reading, meditating, mindfulness, running, or any other type of exercise. The important bit is to take the time out. It clears your head; helps you think straighter and it’s often when you get your best ideas so have a pen and paper handy or your phone to add notes!

How’s your productivity looking? Can you take any of the steps I used to improve my productivity? Even if it’s just one small action that helps you move forward and be more productive. Start today. I would love to know how you get on.

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