The Payroll Blog

News, tips, and advice for small business owners

How To Be More Productive

Posted On
7/31/2019
By
Stephanie Davis

Productivity is essential in the workforce. Without it, work doesn’t get done, which mean sales don’t happen and you wind up losing income for your small business.

As a small business owner, you need to be on your A-game since others will look to you as an example. At the same time, you also need your employees to work productively to keep your business afloat. Below are the most common causes of decreased productivity, and what you can do to fix it.

The Internet and Social Media

How many times a day do you pick up your phone or open your browser to see what’s happening in the world via the internet and social media? Often, you probably aren’t fully aware of what you are doing and just scrolling out of boredom and habit, without truly processing the information you’re looking at. These little breaks can hurt your productivity more than you think. The good news is, there are easy ways to combat it.

1. Set a timer. Give yourself a set amount of time to work on a task and then schedule a 5-minute web/social break.

2. Set up website blocker. There are several website blockers that you can use to stop yourself from checking out your favorite sites. Whether you need to take a break from emails, Instagram, or even Amazon, you can set a temporary blocker in place to prevent you from straying from the task at hand.

3. Move your phone. If your biggest downfall comes from using your phone, whether it's mindlessly scrolling or answering text messages, move your phone away from you. You can put it in a drawer, a bag, another room, anything to keep you from reaching for it. Out of sight often means out of mind.

All of the Chatting

While meeting with your team can be great for morale, brainstorming, and stronger communication, it can also be harmful to productivity. Whether it’s a meeting that could have been an email, or a coworker stopping by your office that distracts you, there are ways to embrace the positives of in-person chatting without disrupting productivity.

1. Smart Meetings. There is nothing employees find more frustrating than attending a meeting to find out it could have been handled with an email. If you’re leading a meeting, make sure that you’re going in prepared, with an agenda and a plan to keep everyone on task, and an established goal to ensure that your time together is productive in its own way. It’s not only good practice for productivity, but it shows respect for other people’s time too.

2. Use your words, selectively. Popping by a coworker’s cube or office to ask a question or check in on their weekend may be common practice, but it’s also a common productivity stopper. If the discussion isn’t urgent and you’re deep in the zone, politely tell your coworker that you’re trying to power through something on your to-do list and while you’d love to chat more, ask if they can meet a little later. Your coworkers aren’t mind readers and won’t always know when you’re focused, but as long as you handle it the right way, they will be happy to save the conversation for a more appropriate time.

Having a Forced Schedule

How often have you been walking your dog, driving home, or even in the shower, and you suddenly get a great idea? While standard work hours are 8- or 9-5, that doesn’t mean that productivity is limited to those hours. Flexible schedules and the opportunities to work from home are more mainstream than ever and are bringing with them a new wave of productivity. In fact, many employees who either work flexible hours or have a day or two a week to work from home report being more productive than other employees. So how do you make it work for you and your team and ensure people are working and not just bingeing the latest Netflix hit?

1. Let employees choose their work from home day. While having a set schedule and knowing when people will be in your office is helpful, there won’t be a magical day of the week that works best for everyone on your team. Offering the option to choose a day will make your employees feel valued, boost employee engagement, and lead to higher productivity.

2. Trust. One of the biggest reasons employers get uncomfortable over employees working from home is they are afraid their employees will take advantage of it and not truly work. The Society for Human Resource Management has a blog post that talks about this and counters with, “if you can’t trust your employees to work flexibly, why hire them in the first place?” Now more than ever, employees want the opportunity to work from home, and because it’s a valued perk, most employees aren’t going to abuse it. While they may not work the same way they would in the office, they are still going to get their tasks done in the way that works most productively for them. As long as the work is done correctly and on-time, it’s best to not split hairs about how it happened.

3. Create a productive space. When working from home, it’s easy to sit on the couch in pajamas and work away. While that may be a more comfortable way to work, it doesn’t always create the most productive mindset. Create a space that is designed to help you get work done, even if it’s as simple as a desk in the living room instead of your couch.

Bottom Line

With all of these tips in mind, remember that you are going to have your days (we see you post-holiday weekend) that no matter how hard you try to get in the zone, it’s not going to happen. Don’t beat yourself up because you can’t be knocking it out of the park every day. Just keep these tips in mind when you need a little productive boost, and if all else fails, treat yourself to something caffeinated to help inspire your next great idea.