Full speed ahead!

10 ways to power up your productivity.

You started your business because you had a brilliant idea for a product or service that solves the problems of a niche market that you love working with. But there is more to it than that. You are a high achiever. You are a risk taker. You value your freedom. You thrive on being your own boss. You want to create for yourself and your family a lifestyle that you love. But do you have the time?

Business owners regularly cite time management as their number 1 key challenge – you are time poor, wearing too many hats, and juggling multiple competing priorities with an ever present sense of overwhelm. Surely it wasn’t meant to be this hard?

It’s time to regain control of your time. It’s time to power up your productivity! Here are 10 powerful productivity strategies to help you do just that.

1.Business with a purpose

Research consistently shows that businesses with a deep-seated purpose for making the world better consistently outperform businesses that do not have such a purpose. And as the owner of your business, that purpose really comes down to you. Your purpose is not just to make money. Money is not a purpose – it’s just an enabler which gives your business legitimacy. There needs to be more. So, what is your purpose? Take the time to get this right.

2.Hustle until you can almost afford not to

In the early stages of your business it is critical that you are involved in every aspect of the business: from business planning, market-ing, sales, to customer experience and data collection. You need to be across every single thing, at least initially, so that you know that your business has exactly the right foundations in place. And then build your team (see 3. below).

3.Focus on your strengths and outsource your weaknesses

The hustle will only get you so far. Continuing, long term, to wear every single hat in your business is simply not sustainable. In addition, are you really, genuinely good at (and/or love doing) all of the many elements that your business needs? No. Outsourcing allows you to focus more of your time on the tasks you absolutely love to perform. If you are a Chocolatier, you went into business because you adore making beautiful chocolate. You do not adore, nor are you likely to be very good at bookwork, payroll, process development or managing a CRM. When you outsource, the key is to identify an expert who can perform the task for you faster, better and cheaper than if you did the task yourself.

4.(Hourly) rate yourself – your time is money

When you know exactly what your time is worth, you can apply this rate to every task you choose to perform. For example, if your time is worth $50 an hour and you spend an hour a day on social media, that is $18,250 of your time a year. Is this really the best use of your time?

5.Embrace processes

For each task you repeatedly perform in your business, establish and document a process for how the task is most efficiently performed. It is important to get these processes out of your head and on to paper right from the start. Why? Be-cause as your business grows the last thing you or your team will want is for you to be the one reference point for how key processes flow.

6.Don’t-do list

We are all familiar with having a “to-do” list, however, it is just as important to keep a running record of the habits and behaviours you no longer want to maintain because they are a waste of your time.

7.Think like an athlete

As a business owner and entrepreneur, you are an athlete. You need stamina; you need to know when to go hard and when to go slow; you need a game plan; you need to pace yourself; and you need to know when to play defence and when to play offence.

8.Batch your energy

Be aware of your energy levels so you can match the type of task you should be performing to the level of energy you have at any given time. Your best time is your daily high energy point (when you are at your most creative, enthusiastic and impactful). This time is sacred. It must be respected and only ever invested in your best work – your most strategically important tasks which will return the highest results for your business. Never use your best time for anything less than your best work. Equally, your worst time is your daily lowest energy ebb which you can use for your process driven tasks – the tasks you can do with your eyes closed (literally), because they do not require your best brain.

9. Stop multitasking

Multitasking does not work. The ability to successfully multitask is possessed by less than 2.5 per cent of us. These individuals are so rare that they are called Super Taskers. For the rest of us mere mortals, multitasking will cost you as much as 40 per cent of your productivity. If you constantly multitask all day every day (for example, if you have your emails alerts on all day, or your phone keeps buzzing in your pocket in a meeting, or you have multiple screens open at the same time), then at best you are only working to 60 per cent of your productive capacity. And that’s not good enough. Your best and only strategy to combat this complete waste of time is to focus on one task at a time.

10.Me first

Invest time in yourself, without guilt. Making time for yourself is crucial to making you a better, happier person, and ultimately a better, happier business owner.

It really is time to power up your productivity. You have nothing to lose except your poor time habits. What you will gain is hours of time to do what you love: more time with your family and friends, more time to spend on your own health and wellbeing, and more time to strategically build the next stage of your business success. And isn’t that why you went into business in the first place?

Kate Christie, CEO, Time Stylers and author of “SMART Time Investment for Business: 128 ways the best in business use their time

This story first appeared in issue 28 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine