When you started your own business, you likely dreamed of working on your own schedule, taking days off whenever you liked, and maybe even shorter work days. Of course, you want to make a difference in peoples businesses and/or lives, but being in control is a huge benefit of owning your own business.
The problem is, with this control comes the curse of the business owner. There’s always more to do and no one to tell you it’s time to go home at the end of the day. (It’s pretty likely you’re already at home, anyway.) You’re not counting down the hours until 5pm anymore, but you can probably be found working at least one evening a week. (Yes, social media and content creation count as work!)
There are usually 2 culprits that lead you to work long days:
- You think you “should” work long days, or you don’t know when to stop.
- You aren’t productive in your “proper” work hours, and so have to work extra or rush at the end of the day to meet deadlines.
(I know, it’s like I read your mind!)
Fortunately, both aspects fall under the umbrella of “productivity”, and productivity takes time to master. Productivity is not simply about getting more done; it’s about getting more done in the time available so you can take time off to do the stuff you love. (You know, those hobbies you had before you started your business?) To help you make more of your time available and help you enjoy your work more, here are my 7 favourite productivity hacks.
7 Productivity Hacks for Business Owners
#1 Start Your Week with a “Brain Dump”
On Sunday or Monday morning, grab a notebook or Google Doc and write down anything and everything you need to do that coming week. It takes energy to hold all of that in your head, so by getting it out on paper, you can free up mental space to focus on each task as you come to it. You can then use this list to plan each day.
#2 Try Time Blocking and Batching
Time blocking and batching is where you block off a certain amount of time to work on one task. You don’t look at emails or switch to another task during that time unless you come to an impasse or finish your first task. For example, you may block off 9am-12pm on a Monday morning to create your social media posts for the week or two.
This is a great way to curb the habit of multitasking. It’s super easy to get distracted in our busy world with the ding of a notification or a thought that can lead you down a rabbit hole on Google. Emails and social media are particularly difficult because they are things you need to manage. But multitasking doesn’t work – I’m against it, and psychology research has found that multitasking can actually diminish our ability to focus on a singular task over time.
#3 Find a Planning System You Love
If you struggle to stay on task or find yourself at a loss of what you should do next, you may need to try a new planning system to keep you on track. Experiment with paper planners, bullet journaling, using project management software like Trello, Monday or Asana, or Google Calendar. The right planning system will help you set business goals and work to achieve them each day, week, month, quarter and year.
#4 Start Your Day with Gratitude
So many leading men and women in business start and/or end their day with gratitude, and it’s a habit I’ve fallen in love with, too. You can do this on your phone or in any notebook you have to hand, but I love using The Five-Minute Journal from Intelligent Change. This journal guides you with a few prompts to help you get in a positive mindset for the day ahead. It is the perfect way to lift your mood and ensure you start your day with optimism.
#5 Get Outside!
Get outside! A break isn’t going to be as good for you if you continue to sit at your desk to browse the internet, get caught up on social media, or watch YouTube videos. Instead, get outside for a walk (or a run) and get your blood pumping. This is such a great way to refresh and reset so you can come back to your work with fresh eyes. I absolutely love going for my lunchtime walk with my beautiful ex-racing greyhound Zorro and my (equally lovely) husband. When I get back, I’m ready and enthusiastic to get back to work.
So, grab your dog or a loved one and go for a walk and unplug. If you prefer, spend your walk listening to podcasts, but if you can switch off from work for the duration of your walk, you’ll be better off for it.
#6 Default to “No”
This one may sound crazy to you, but hear me out. Whenever a new opportunity arises, default to “no”. You don’t actually have to say no to the opportunity, but as business owners (and especially women business owners), we want to help as many people as we can, and we don’t want to say no to potential revenue.
However, taking on those projects, clients, and opportunities that don’t excite you will only lead to wasted time and additional stress in the long run. When you default to “no”, and realise that actually, you’d love to take on that new opportunity, you can go into it confident that it’s a great use of your time.
If you want your business to grow, you have to learn to delegate. There’s no ifs or buts here – it’s something you have to do. When you started your business, you likely did it all (maybe you still do), but your time is valuable. You have a zone of genius your clients want to pay you for, and that means that you should start to think about delegating the tasks that aren’t worth your time or where you simply don’t have the expertise to do well.
Some key areas to think about delegating are:
- Administrative tasks – you can even hire a VA for just a few hours a month to help you manage your admin
- Social media – a good social media manager can help you step away from social media if it’s a time-suck for you or if it’s not something you’re passionate about
- Content creation – blog posts, videos, and podcasts can all be written, edited, and posted by someone else
- Copywriting – from web copy to sales copy, the right words will make selling your products or services much easier
- Customer service – you don’t have to be the person to manage refunds, product issues, or answer questions
- Graphic design & branding – there are so many business owners that spend weeks creating a logo when there are professionals (*ahem*) who could do it faster and (let’s be honest) much, much better
- Photography – you cannot underestimate a great professional photographer’s value, don’t rely on selfies and badly lit images!
- Website design & management – a DIY website might get the job done, but it’s not going to wow your customers, so resist the temptation to spend hours on web design. You can also outsource your website’s management if you’re not techy, don’t have the time, or simply don’t want to!
- Tasks in your home – why not pay someone to clean, cook, or do your laundry for you?
So, pick just one thing on this list and start thinking about how you can delegate it. Reach out to a few professionals for quotes. Remember that you aren’t spending money; you’re making room so you have more time to spend making money.
These 7 productivity hacks help me stay happy, healthy and focused each day, so I can leave the computer at the end of the day feeling satisfied that I put my all into my work. If you know your next step is to outsource your graphic design or website design, I’d love to talk over your ideas with you. To find out more about me and my packages, click here.