Hoping to boost employee productivity and build a healthier team? Find 9 tips that will restore balance and get your team motivated once again.
Between people management and meetings, deadlines and random tasks, if you’re running a business, it’s safe to say you’re probably also running out of time. If you thrive in situations like this, that’s awesome. But if you don’t, you’re not alone: 87% of gen x, millennials, and baby-boomer professionals surveyed said they encountered technology and information overload that diminished their productivity.
So, how do so many business owners and entrepreneurs appear to do it all and thrive?
Here’s their secret: They don’t.
The Myth of Multi-Tasking
Trying to “do it all” isn’t just mentally and physically draining–it actually prevents you from getting a lot done. Research indicates that productivity can be reduced by as much as 40% when you’re constantly switching context and tasks.
But what about multi-tasking? Don’t some people have an innate ability to get it all done?
As it turns out, no. “Multi-tasking” is nothing more than a very powerful myth. In fact, a study out of Stanford University showed that so-called multi-taskers actually performed substantially worse than their low-tasking counterparts in a series of tests. The psychologists running the study concluded that the multi-taskers were so overloaded with information that they failed to “filter” fast enough to complete the task at hand, losing ground to their low-tasking peers.
Doing Less, Achieving More
When it comes to running a business, entrepreneurs have also discovered that they can achieve more by doing substantially less. But it requires a specific approach to managing time and a commitment to eliminating extraneous, attention-dividing tasks.
Curious about how you can implement a similar strategy? Keep reading to discover 9 tips to boost your productivity and your small business.
Try These 9 Tips to Boost Productivity
#1 – Carve out “making” versus “managing time.” Become more intentional about your schedule. If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, it’s easy to lose time to meaningless tasks that take up your day. In the famous Paul Graham post that inspires this productivity hack, he explains how important it is to delineate “making” versus “managing” time. You can apply the same thinking to your schedule: Book “maker” time in your schedule and leverage it to accomplish tasks related to planning and strategy for your business. When you’re ready to interface with employees or have important discussions, book them during your “managing time”.
#2 – Turn off push notifications. How many times have you found yourself sitting in front of a laptop with your phone nearby as text messages and notifications pop up? Probably too many to count. While it may seem harmless, that stream of notifications is seriously distracting. Boost your concentration and productivity by turning off notifications for certain periods throughout the day (that includes those for Slack, Google Chat, and other communication clients). Better yet, take your phone off of your desk so you’re not tempted to check incoming messages.
#3 – Make meetings count. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unnecessary meetings cost U.S. businesses approximately $37 billion each year. But you can take back your time by re-thinking your approach to meetings. Limit them to specific days of the week, and make sure you arrive with an objective or agenda to guide the meeting.
#4 – Eliminate distractions. Browsing Facebook? What about all those tabs you have open at once? And do you really need to read that article right now? Probably not. De-clutter your desktop and focus on the task you’re trying to accomplish, versus the twenty-or-so you started and never finished. If you find things you want to return to later, great. Tools like Pocket let you save articles for later, or you can use Evernote or Google Keep for creating lists of what to check out when you have more time (pro-tip: Google Keep even allows you to add items to your lists using voice commands).
#5 – Relax. Carving out time for yourself may be the last thing on your mind when you’re running a business, but doing so will likely make you more productive. Research has shown that humans aren’t designed to exert themselves continuously, but rather to follow a cycle of exertion and restoration. Despite studies that indicate we operate best completing work in 90 minute periods followed by breaks that serve as a “refresh” function for our brains, we often push through with the aid of coffee, sugar, or other stimulants. Instead, break up your day by standing up, taking a walk, and allowing your brain to entered an unstructured mode of thought.
#6 – Use tools wisely. Productivity apps are a-plenty these days, probably for the same reason you’re reading this article: We’re drowning in to-do’s and inundated with information. This makes it nearly impossible to prioritize. But so can having too many tools in your productivity arsenal. The more interfaces you connect to, the more context-switching required–and that’s a drain on your attention span you don’t need.
#7 – Say no. So many of us sign on to projects we don’t have the time, energy, or bandwidth for, but as David Cancel, CEO of Drift, points out, you have to learn how to say no. Let this serve as another reminder: Saying no more often will help you focus more and be more productive with the projects that matter most.
#8 – Go to sleep. Sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity. Stop falling asleep at your desk by getting a good night’s rest. If you’re too awake to hit the pillow, turn off electronic devices an hour or two before you go to bed. The blue light from your laptop, iPad, and iPhone slows the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep. And when you’re trying to maximize productivity, a good night will help you stay focused throughout the day.
#9 – Start a routine. Becoming more productive is about getting laser focus around what’s most important to you. As an entrepreneur, you want your business to be successful. But in order to do that, you have to strip away the meaningless tasks that are keeping you from that outcome and reinforce the ones that are driving you forward. That’s where the power of habit comes in. Make a commitment to starting habits that bring you closer to what success looks like for you and your company and begin eliminating the ones that hold you back. With enough practice, you’ll find you’ve cultivated a habit of success that feels like second-nature.