It’s a classic trap many business owners and marketers fall into. Like anyone, you want your business to be as successful as humanly possible, your employees to be happy and productive, and your customers to love you. So to accomplish this, you burn the candle at both ends and quickly turn into a boss-zilla. Right? It happens to the best of us. Luckily, there IS a better way. Want to know how to work smarter not harder? Keep reading.
10 Ways to Work Smarter and Improve Productivity
1.Establish Clear Boundaries
This one might seem obvious, but you’d be shocked by how many business owners never take the time to establish clear boundaries with their employees. Most managers just wanted to be liked by everyone and fall into the trap of becoming a “yes man”. But this is short sighted, and not a sustainable way to run a business. If you establish clear boundaries early on with your team, it will save you time and confusion in the long run. For example; make sure employees know when you are and are not available. If you get into the habit of answering ten pm work related phone calls, this is going to be a very hard habit to break.
2. Leverage the Talent of Your Team
It can be tempting to want to do everything yourself. The old adage if you want it done right, do it yourself, resonates with many of us. But in order to create a sustainable business, you must be willing to let go of some control and trust the people you hired. Instead of micromanaging your employees, equip them with the training and tools necessary for them to do their jobs and them let work. Encourage your team to be creative and give their input. A team of smart, capable, and innovative workers can do much more than you can do alone.
3. If it Can be Automated, Automate It
These days, there is literally an app for almost everything. Don’t be afraid to harness the power of automation. Even for things like social media, apps can be your best friend. For example, there are tools like HootSuite that can help you schedule social media posts for weeks at at time. So instead of trying to carve out time every day to be active on Instagram or Facebook, carve out one day and schedule posts for the next 30 days. This will free up much more time than you might think!
4. Set a Schedule for Email and Stick to It
Many of us have email on our smart phones these days. It can be super tempting to just send a quick reply or shoot someone a message at all hours of the day or night. But if you do this, your coworkers and employees will begin to expect to be able to reach you twenty four hours a day. This is not healthy or sustainable. Communicate to your staff that you are available between the hours of eight am and five pm on weekdays, or whatever schedule works for your business, and stick to it!
5. Do One Task at a Time
Repeat after me: do one task at a time. This seems straight forward right? Maybe so, but when things get crazy or you enter in to a busy season, its tempting to try to maximize your time and do five hundred things at once. But there’s no way you can do work with integrity when you stretch yourself that thin. If you’re going to put in the time to do work, make sure the work you’re producing is of the highest quality. Even if that means you do less tasks in a day. We’ve all been in the position where we ended up having to redo an entire day’s worth of work because we tried to cram in too much in one day. Save yourself the headache and slow down. Quality > quantity.
6. Schedule Everything
Scheduling events and meetings is good organizational practice for anyone, but especially if you’re managing an entire team of people. Even if you all work in the same office it’s still a good idea to schedule as much as possible. That way your employees know what to expect and what to prepare for mentally. No one likes having last minute meetings sprung on them. Plus the time ends up being far less productive if employees are not prepared to contribute ideas. Also, this doesn’t just apply to meetings. Make sure you have a calendar with clear deadlines so everyone is on the same page. And lastly, even if it’s just an email, it’s a good idea to let your employees know you need a response in x number of days.
7. Up Your Time Management Game
Most of us admittedly struggle with time management. But it is an incredibly crucial skill to cultivate if you want to succeed in the business world, or lets face it, life. Managing your time well means not just showing up to work on time. It also means ending meetings when the times up. It means thinking three steps ahead to make sure you’re prioritizing the most important tasks over less important tasks. Most importantly, being good at time management means you accomplish your goals faster and are ultimately more successful and productive.
8. Practice Good Self Care
You may not think self care is related to your work life, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you show up to work exhausted and frazzled the quality of your work is going to drastically decrease. It’s about thinking long term versus short term. Resist the urge to be the “hero” that stays at the office until ten pm. Once you’ve hit the point of diminishing returns, it’s time to call it quits and go home for the night. Good self care is also how doing what you need to do to recharge mentally. If you need to get out into the great outdoors to reset, carve out time and space to make that happen. Practicing good self care means the quality of the work you produce will only get better and better.
9. Always be Learning
Being an effective boss of business owner is one the most complicated roles a person can under take. You have to be able to wear many different hats often at the same time. Whats more, there is always something new to learn to improve your business and boost productivity. So make time to search for the latest and greatest tools, tips, and techniques.
10. Take Plenty of Stretch Breaks
This is just good old fashion ergonomics. Sitting at your desk for eight hours straight powering through your day does you no favors. Your brain and body needs a rest. Staring at a computer screen all day is hard on your eyes and on your body. So get up every hour or so and take a walk outside or around the office. It’s also a great way to reset and refresh your brain.
This is just a short list, but there’s a myriad of ways to improve your work habits and ultimately increase your bottom line. What are some of your strategies to work smarter not harder?