As a small business leader, you’re on a constant race against the clock. It may often feel like that clock is working against you. But the truth is that time is malleable—and what’s often needed isn’t more time, but a more productive use of your time. Here are five ways to supercharge your days—allowing you to not only enjoy the passing of time, but work with it to deliver real business results:
Schedule according to your energy levels
When planning your days to optimize productivity, start with your energy levels. David Klein, cofounder of the innovative student loan platform CommonBond, advises in a Mashable article that by adjusting your schedule to make sure you’re doing the most mind-intensive work when you’re most awake, engaged, and energized (such as high-focus intensive tasks during the mornings) you can boost your performance. “It helps to know the ebb and flow of your daily energy, and to match it as closely as possible to the tasks at hand,” he says. Such advice is backed-up by leading psychologists including Josh Davis, Ph.D, in his acclaimed book, “Two Awesome Hours”.
Enlist technological assistants
“Spend time creating efficiency-driven systems,” advises Harvey Nix of the hygiene compliance system, Proventix Systems. “CRMs, Automated Proposal, Automated Quotes, Email Responses, etc. On those days when it is a challenge to stay focused you can let the systems work for you and just accomplish one task at a time.” At Instore, automation is something we swear by. Our mobile point-of-sale system, for example, helps you automate everything from timekeeping, to labor optimization, inventory tracking and monitoring the productivity of those who work for you. If machines can do many of the tasks for you and your team, why not enlist their help and build more space in your schedule?
As the founder of a small business, you are at the mercy of nonstop forces that demand your attention. So a key skill is the art of prioritization. David Bladow, founder of the flower delivery startup BloomThat, emphasizes the habit of list writing. Bladow takes time out each Sunday evening to map out his week, planning what will need to get done each day. “At the top of the list, I highlight my three most important tasks for the week. No more than three. These are the thing I have to be focused on,” he says. “I modify it as the week goes on and I return to that list multiple times a day. If I didn’t have that from the get go, it’s easy to get pulled in different directions.”
Declutter your mind
Wendy Lea is the CEO of Get Satisfaction, an online customer engagement community platform. For someone whose job is based on outreach and community, Lea is careful to go in the opposite direction—reaching within. As she tells Fast Company, each morning she takes 15 minutes to empty her mind of its clutter. She does this in an utterly original way: “I take a bag full of thoughts I need cleared and each morning I pick one out, read it, and send it down the river near my house,” she tells Fast Company. “Watching the thought float away really helps clear my mind, reorient things and increase my focus for the rest of the day.” From this letting go, when Lea gets to work each Monday morning, she sets a strong intention in the form of an email to her team with a list of her five top priorities for the week.
Embrace solitary spurts
Sometimes, the best way to know the route ahead is to pull back, take a rest, and assess the big picture. Roman Stanek of GoodData suggests taking one workday a month to get away from the job entirely. He tells Business Insider that he likes to spend a day a month out on his bike: “I get to the office at like 7, and I have a full day of calls. The stuff that suffers is the strategic thinking. Where is the industry going, where is the company going, what should we do differently, what should we do better. That you can only do when you get on a bike, when you actually have no cell phone coverage. [It’s] good practice for CEOs to be in a bit of isolation.”
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