As a small business owner, there are an unlimited number of tasks you could be doing at all times. How do you know which task to do first? How do you stay efficient while completing tasks? Check out these productivity secrets to help you work smarter, not harder.
1. Stop multitasking
While this might seem counterproductive when you have a million things on your plate, you actually get more done if you focus on one task at a time. A study in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review found that only about 2.5% of people can multi-task and still keep the same level of success at every task. Completing one project at a time helps you keep your concentration and really delve into a single task. Don’t get sidetracked by jumping from one thing to another.
Doing bits and pieces of different projects also pushes the finish dates farther into the future. Finishing a task and then starting another staggers your end dates so you have more to show for your work, instead of going days without any results at all.
2. Minimize interruptions
Always being accessible can hinder productivity. First things first: stop checking your email constantly. Instead, set aside five minutes every hour to check your inbox. Most emails can wait for a response; an immediate response is not worth your sanity (or your productivity).
Next, turn off things that go “ding.” When you’re not at the office, it’s great that your smartphone alerts you every time someone comments on Facebook or when you receive a new email. But when you’re at work, turn your electronics on silent to prevent them from distracting you from the task at hand. Make time for social media and smartphones the same way you make time to check your email (but maybe less frequently).
3. Prioritize your upcoming tasks
When all of your projects seem equally urgent, it can be hard to decide which item on your to-do list should take priority. Don’t fret – we have a game plan to help you decide what task you should complete first.
Choose two items from your to-do list and pretend you can only complete one of them (even though we both know you’ll get both done). The task you choose to tackle first is the winner, and goes on to compete against another task on the list. Continue going through the list in this manner, and by the end of the match you’ll have a to-do list ranked by importance.
4. Organize your office
It’s easier to get your work done when your workspace is neat and organized. Organization makes you feel better and allows you to find things when you need them – this one is a mental and physical productivity tip!
So schedule some time at the end of a workday to go through all the mess on your desk. Put loose items into drawers, desktop organizers and the trash. Can’t decide what to remove from your desk? If you haven’t used the item in one month, it may not need to be on your desk. When you’re done, you’ll have better physical and mental clarity.
What do you do to stay productive at work? Share in the comments.
This post contributed by Emily Farrar. Farrar is the Lead Customer Advocate at Shoeboxed, the fastest way to turn a pile of paper receipts into digital data for effortless expense reporting and bookkeeping.
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