Productivity is essential for profitability, and yet most small businesses have several productivity leaks that are in desperate need of plugging. Here’s how to weed out the bad habits that may be draining your business of efficiency and put better practices in place going forward.
1) Not Setting Goals
This applies for both you as a business owner and your employees. Without goals, we are all just stumbling around in the dark, so set clear objectives for yourself and your team. It’s important to set long- and short-term goals, so outline weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual targets, then review them regularly to measure progress.
2) Setting Too Many Goals
When it comes to goal setting, there is definitely a sweet spot. Whilst it’s fine to have multiple goals, setting too many at once can make you feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions. When you try to do everything, you end up achieving nothing. Streamline your list of goals and focus on those which are most important to your business right now to avoid burnout.
3) Lax Bookkeeping
It’s easy to let bookkeeping slip in favour of more urgent (or perhaps just more enjoyable) tasks, but failing to track your finances will surely come back to bite you, and destroy your productivity in the process.
To avoid finding yourself buried under a huge pile of bills and receipts at 3am, take the little-and-often approach to bookkeeping – or better yet, outsource to a professional.
Good bookkeeping is essential to understand your finances and create realistic budgets and finances for the future, so don’t let it slip!
4) Not Taking Breaks
When you’re busy running a business it may seem like a good idea to skip breaks to maximise productivity but it actually has the opposite effect.
A study by the Draugiem Group used computer software to track the habits of employees and found that the ones who took frequent breaks were the most productive. Interestingly, the study found that the ideal working rhythm was 52 minutes of work followed by a 17 minute break. Whilst you don’t have to follow this exact pattern, do remember to take frequent breaks to refresh and recharge your brain.
5) Neglecting Physical and Mental Health
Physical and mental health often go hand in hand. A study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that mental and physical health are the most important factors when it comes to workplace productivity, so it’s in your best interest to look after your own health, and that of your employees.
Creating a positive workplace culture, encouraging a healthy work-life balance and offering physical activity initiatives can go a long way into creating a healthier – and thus more productive – workforce.
6) Not Using Automation
In today’s digital world, you have the power to automate many time-consuming tasks at your fingertips. You should automate as much as possible in your business to save man hours and maximise productivity.
For example, you can use cloud accounting software to automate invoicing, reminders, complex calculations and record organisation. There’s no need to manually post on social media anymore, either, thanks to scheduling tools such as HootSuite and Buffer.
7) Checking Your Inbox Too Often
It’s natural to want to keep on top of your emails but opening your inbox every five minutes really interrupts your workflow and negatively impacts productivity. It also encourages staff to hide behind back-and-forth email communication rather than picking up the phone for a quick, to-the-point call.
To avoid being glued to your inbox, set yourself 2-3 time slots per day to check and answer emails. This keeps you on top of important messages without wasting time.
Whilst you may not be guilty of all of the above bad habits, you probably recognise at least some of them in your business. The good news is that fixing these productivity drains will help you to get more out of both yourself and your staff and allow you to create a stronger and more profitable business from now on.