Productivity hacks for small business owners

Africa’s start-up ecosystem is booming, and start-ups and small businesses continue to contribute to the continents economic development. Lyndy van den Barselaar, managing director at ManpowerGroup South Africa notes that small business owners need to ensure they have the right strategies in place to ensure increased productivity and output, in order to remain successful in the modern business environment.

“When you own a small business, you have to be jack-of-all-trades and master of many, juggling several tasks across the parts of the business at any time. This means that time management is absolutely critical to the successful running of the business,” she says.

Van den Barselaar offers advice on some productivity hacks that can assist small business owners in ensuring they manage their time effectively, ensure the productivity of the business, and find a healthy work-life balance.

1. Track weekly priorities: At the beginning of each week, identify the top business priorities for the upcoming week.

“Once you have listed all the weeks priorities, review the list and break down the tasks. Are there any priorities that you can delegate to an assistant, colleague, employee or partner? Assign no more than three of the remaining priorities to each day of the week, and work on these first. Keeping track of what needs to get done across all the parts of the business can easily become overwhelming; keeping a list of priorities will ensure you stay on track and can work toward realistic weekly goals,” says van den Barselaar.

2. Exercise in the mornings: Small business owners are usually either glued to their computer or constantly on the move, so getting exercise is not always top of mind, or an easy thing to do.
“Exercising first thing in the morning gets it out of the way for the rest of the day, and gives you the benefits of increased energy, lowered stress levels and an overall healthier lifestyle. This is especially important to avoid fatigue and burnout, and assist in keeping stress levels as low as possible – as high stress levels can have many negative effects,” explains van den Barselaar.

3. Create daily to-do lists: Although there are mixed reviews about the effectiveness of to-do lists, its imperative to have a way for you to keep track of the tasks that need completing and their deadlines.

“There are hundreds of apps and online calendars available for creating and tracking to-do lists, and it is up to you to figure out which one works best for you. Essentially, your to-do list is a daily reminder of your tasks, deadlines and meetings for the day. It will help you plan your day for optimal productivity, and ensure you remain on top of all the things you need to do. Creating this list first thing in the morning gives you a clear view of your day, and can assist in ensuring you don’t feel overwhelmed, or forget about any important tasks,” says van den Barselaar.

4. Identify your patterns: Are you a morning person, a night owl, or somewhere in between? Work on your most important priorities at the time of day when your energy level and focus is highest. When you work with the rhythm of your body, you are more productive and able to produce your best work.

5. Manage meetings: Meetings are sometimes critical to the smooth operation of a small business, but as an owner, it is important to find balance between meetings and the other tasks of the day.

“Limit the length of meetings to 30 minutes and do not schedule any meetings before 10:30 am, so that you have some uninterrupted time in the morning to work on your lists and priorities. To make sure that you honour this commitment to yourself, block off the time in your calendar, so that it shows that you are not available before then,” van den Barselaar suggests.

“Managing your time effectively will have positive outcomes for your business’ productivity and output, but will also ensure that you are striking a positive work-life balance – something that small business owners often forget about,” concludes van den Barselaar.