Productivity Hacks Every Business Owner Should Know

On one hand, I’d love to be a spontaneous person...

How freeing it must be to wait for things to happen! Go with the flow! Figure it out when you get there! But that’s not my nature. I’m the friend of the fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants person. I’m the one who hosts the party, buys the comedy show tickets, organizes the girls’ trips, etc. I sometimes resent this in my personal life—I mean, can someone else make a freakin’ dinner reservation for once?

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But when it comes to owning a business, I think my planning and efficiency help me out big time.

You have to be disciplined if you own a business. You create your schedule, which means you manage your own time. You can choose to use that time wisely or you can choose to be that fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person, who is going to have a helluva time running a business.

I choose to use my time wisely by being productive.

 Allison Berbera (L) - photo by Jonnie Coutu

Allison Berbera (L) - photo by Jonnie Coutu

It’s not as easy though, especially at first. You have to invest time and effort into it. I’ve put a lot of thought into how to be the most productive I can be, and I’ve come up with some good productivity hacks.

Here is where I share my productivity hacks with you!

Rhythm Nation - know when you are most productive.

I’ve learned that my energy peaks from when I wake up until 3:00pm, so I work with that. I’m at my most creative first thing at the morning, so I use that time to work on blog posts while I drink my coffee (one of my favorite business rituals). Then I attack complicated email responses, contracts, advertising and anything else I need to have a clear head and/or creative mind for. I leave my house to walk to an errand at noon, as that helps keep my energy up. I get tired around 3:00pm, so I do easy tasks (depositing checks, posting photos on social media, cleaning makeup brushes, etc.) then, since those can be done with minimal energy and brainpower. Sometimes I’ll get a second wind around 8:00pm, and I take advantage of that by organizing things for the next day in a clear-headed away. Everyone has a different natural rhythm to their energy, and I’ve found that working with mine plays a key role in my productivity.

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Batch Tribe - schedule tasks to be done in batches.

I learned about batching from the book 4 Hour Workweek. The idea is to schedule routine tasks for a certain time each day/week/month instead of as they come in. For example, I only print my documents once a week. I used to print the things I need hard copies of (job schedules, invoices, contracts, etc.) as I did them. Now I apply a “To Be Printed” label to them in Gmail (I seldom need to print anything that doesn’t wind up in my email), archive, and forget about them until my reminder comes up to print. I also batch filing, entering data in my tracking system, ordering products, paying bills and a bunch of other routine tasks. Batching saves me a ton of time and is way more efficient than doing those tasks individually.

Remind Me Again? - set alerts so you can forget it...for now.

I firmly believe I wouldn’t be who I am without my parents, my brother and Google Calendar. I learned about this lifesaving business tool from the last boss I had before I went full time with my business. Not only do I put all of my jobs, appointments and meetings in my calendars (I have a few), but I use one of them to keep track of tasks I have to do. This ties into batching, as many of my tasks are repetitive, but also works for one-time things that I’ll never remember on my own, like “Set up electricity at Charleston apartment” or “Call new wedding planner contact.” Once I put something into my calendar, I know it will remind me so I don’t need to remember on my own. Google Calendar runs my life. I’d be a forgetful mess without it.

 photo: Jeff Sheldon

photo: Jeff Sheldon

Template Time - draft common emails to save time typing.

After a couple years in business, I realized I was writing a lot of the same emails. I had read countless business books and many of them stressed the value of templates and automation. Once that got through my thick skull, I decided to template my regular emails. (I also did this for my future admin assistant who I daydream about on the daily.) About 90% of my client emails are based off various templates I have created. I copy, paste, customize and send in less than half the time it would take to write that email from scratch. Templating whatever I can is a giant time saver and will make my future admin assistant’s job so much easier.

Listen, I’m not perfect...

 Katie Slater Photography

Katie Slater Photography

I have days when I feel scattered and know that I am not attacking my workload in the most productive way. But my hacks have become habits, so even when I feel like I’m not being productive, the framework is ingrained so I can only get so far off track. I have my moments of feeling frazzled, but the productivity tools I use help keep that at bay.

You have to be both a dreamer and a doer if you want to own a business. Dreaming up big ideas and ways to improve your company is more fun, but you won’t get very far if you’re not doing what needs to be done to run your business. Being productive in a smart, efficient way will help you reach your goals. Spontaneity is overrated anyway 😉

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