Small business productivity habits anyone can adopt today

Small business productivity habits: woman lying on floor writing in notebook

We know our businesses need to be productive—but what is “productivity” anyhow? 

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s “a measure of economic performance that compares the amount of goods and services produced (output) with the amount of inputs used to produce those goods and services.”

Inputs can be any resources your business uses to produce goods or services, including your time—which is why people say “time is money.”

In today’s ultra-competitive business landscape, thriving business owners live by this bit of wisdom, wringing out the full potential of every minute of the day. Sound intense? Well, it certainly requires discipline and commitment, which is why we suggest cultivating productivity habits to help.  

With that in mind, let’s review some time-saving habits your small business can adopt today to kick your productivity into high gear! 

Plan your day.

To harness the power of every hour, go to work with a game plan of what you want to accomplish. Don’t just show up and react to whatever the day throws at you. Be proactive. Have a to-do list that’s tied to specific objectives and desired outcomes. 

If you can, knock this to-do list out the night before or draft it up first thing in the morning. For instance, are there, say, three tasks your business needs to get done today for you to call the day a success? If so, write the tasks down and focus your energy on completing those high-impact activities. 

If you work with a team, ensure everyone knows the day’s goals and has the training and tools to meet them.

Delegate duties.

Many business owners love to be hands-on, but this can quickly become a problem when they get spread too thin. 

Wanting to do or be involved in everything is a guaranteed way to dilute your productivity. You’ve got to be willing to train and trust others so you can focus on the bigger-picture tasks. 

By the same token, as your business grows and onboards more personnel, some of your frontline workers may move up to management—so they’ll need to adopt the same mentality and learn to delegate responsibilities.

Automate and outsource.

Modern small businesses have two major advantages over companies of the past—we can outsource and automate a large portion of our tasks. The trick is knowing which option to select for each task. 

Automation through programs like Zapier is ideal for repetitive tasks such as social media posting, invoicing, or generalized email responses. For matters that involve direct customer engagement, we highly suggest outsourcing, though. 

For example, when it comes to calls, customers strongly prefer to work with friendly human customer service representatives who can answer questions, take messages, and forward calls. 

How can your business outsource call management, though? Easy! Virtual receptionists are all the rage these days thanks to the flexibility and affordability of monthly receptionist packages. Virtual receptionists can integrate seamlessly into your business, saving on the cost of a receptionist and freeing up your time.

Or—you can have the best of both worlds by using Ruby receptionists and Zapier together! To learn more about this powerhouse combo, check out our guide to getting started with Ruby and Zapier.

Block off time.

Most bosses have an open door policy to hear worker concerns. But that doesn’t mean literally leaving your door open for anyone to walk in at any time. 

Being interrupted not only keeps you from whatever you were working on, it can also affect your efficiency when you start back to work on that task. In fact, studies show interruptions add an extra 15–24% to the time it takes to finish a task. 

It’s hard to shift mental gears after a disruption, especially if your thoughts continue to dwell on the other subject. Sometimes interruptions can even derail you completely if you can’t regain your focus. 

That’s why it’s crucial to set aside blocks of “do not disturb” time for yourself. So set up a regular time each day to close the door, turn off your phone and email notifications, and just hunker down!

Review and adjust your goals.

Every business needs long- and short-term goals, but these shouldn’t be set in stone. 

Flexibility is often the key to keeping up with evolving trends and changes in the marketplace. Savvy business owners regularly reflect on what they’re doing, review their goals, and make minor (or major) adjustments, as needed. 

Depending on your business, a suitable review schedule might be a quick monthly review plus an in-depth review every quarter to ensure you’re on track and striving toward the right objectives. If something isn’t working, don’t be shy about making strategic changes. Having a continuous improvement mindset is vital for adapting to this ever-changing business landscape.

Take care of yourself.

“Takin’ care of business” is a great sentiment to work by—but if you’re not operating at peak performance yourself, how can you give your business 100%? 

The fact is, running yourself in the ground is not going to do your business any favors. Even Superman needs his downtime to recharge in the warmth of the sun! 

Neglecting one’s physical, mental, or emotional health will eventually catch up to anybody, no matter who they are. This could take the form of fatigue, stress, agitation, or even burnout. And even if you’re willing to make that sacrifice, remember that such symptoms can lead to costly business mistakes. 

That’s why taking excellent care of yourself should be a top priority. From regular exercise and healthy eating to getting enough sleep and relaxation, small business owners should step back, be objective about their own wellness needs, and do what is necessary to keep themselves—and their crew—operating at optimal levels. 

In addition to keeping you healthy and sane, you may discover that some of your best ideas come during times when you’re taking a break and not preoccupied with work. This can lead to interesting new perspectives and perhaps some innovations. 

Network with intent.

Does your “network” mainly consist of random LinkedIn professionals you never talk to or work with? If so, that’s not really what networking is all about. 

Networking done right is about building social capital. Social capital can boost your productivity because it helps to streamline certain human-centric processes. For instance, say you need a reliable supplier and aren’t sure who you can count on. Rather than spending hours researching, maybe you could phone a friend who can steer you in the right direction. 

Networking can also facilitate actions that might otherwise be hard (or impossible) to complete, such as if you need to arrange a meeting with a busy executive but can’t seem to get on their schedule. Knowing someone who can pull a few strings might smooth the process! 

Of course, networks should be mutually beneficial, so there may be times when you might have to do favors in return. But in the end, even this will strengthen partnerships and open doors to new opportunities.

Putting it all together

Cultivating productivity habits doesn’t require an overhaul of your current workflow. The point isn’t to make more work but rather to help your business function more efficiently. The above tips are only suggestions for getting started, but there are many other habits to consider incorporating. 

It may take some trial and error to figure out which habits are most effective for your business. But consistency is the key to making these habits work, so try them long enough for them to have a chance!  

Oh, and if you’re curious about Ruby’s virtual receptionist services—we’re available 24/7, 365 days a week, to screen calls, answer general inquiries, take messages, do call transfers, and capture leads. 

Just need some after-hours phone support? Want a little help managing call overflow? Ruby’s got your back. Full-time, part-time, any time, our cost-efficient packages cover every contingency. 

To learn more, check out Ruby’s comprehensive guide to virtual receptionists and discover what option is right for you!

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