I’m always looking for ways to squeeze more out of my time. Name it – I’ve tried it: from self-help books, productivity apps, and of course talking to small business owners, etc., anything to get the latest tips and tricks on how to do more. However, one thing that I’ve found works a lot is – notebook and paper.
To be clear, you would always need a strategic plan of some sorts to guarantee the long term survival of your business. However, for short term wins, nothing beats the humble act of writing down in ink (more on this later), what you aim to achieve. According to the Harvard Business Review, until you have productivity skills, productivity tools are useless, hence the reason you need to develop the foundation of getting things done on a consistent and productive basis.
Why is productivity important for business owners? Because the increase in productivity, increases efficiency, which in turn reduces costs and boost profits. Here are actionable steps you can use today:
Get a notepad/book
Get a book to write your list – this is important. Not random pieces of paper. And no, the ‘Notes’ app on your phone wouldn’t suffice. You have to write out your list in a designated place. Doing it this way forces you to focus on the tasks at hand, and also helps you become mentally prepared to do them.
And if you were in doubt, there’s mounting evidence that writing things down can change your life.
Make a daily list of things
Now that you have your notepad, the next step is to put down the tasks you intend to complete the next day. Keep in mind that you want to break down your goals into actionable and manageable steps. It’s best you plan the day ahead, so ideally you want to get this done the last thing at night or before you close for the day.
For example, if you need to chase an acquaintance for business/purchases, your list might have “send a quote/price list to Mr.Dele by 12 pm’. You might now have ‘Put a reminder to follow up with Mr.Dele on submitted quote/pricelist.’
Don’t overload the list
The trick is to strike a balance between having enough tasks for the day and not having an over bloated list. One way I go about it is by having a ‘cut-off’ point of 10 items. It means I’m forced to think of every item included on the list.
For tasks not completed, simply carry them over to the next day’s list (which you will prepare later that evening).
Only work from that list
Okay, I know you’re thinking ‘well what happens if I have unexpected tasks?’ That’s fine – just add them in the book. But only work on tasks on the list. Remember that you’re trying to – discipline yourself to learn a new habit. And as we know, new habits are hard to form so crucial to stick to the plan.
Do your most important work first
The last but certainly not the least – start on your most important item first. We’ve all been there – naturally drawn to the easy tasks first. You want to resist the temptation of working on the easy work which gives you the false confidence of achievement.
That’s it’s folks! Do you have other favourite methods of increasing your productivity? Please feel free to share in the comments.