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Top productivity hacks for small business owners

Editorial Team

4 min read

“If only I had more time!” We’ve all said this at one time or another, whether as business owners, employees, homeowners, parents, or caregivers. We all get the same 24 hours every day. Although you can’t add more hours to each day, you can manage your time by prioritizing, eliminating, automating, and streamlining all the different tasks you have on your plate.

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How are some small business owners able to get everything done? What is their secret to success? Below are some strategies small business owners use to manage their time and boost productivity. 

1. Start with the most important task

Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

As a small business owner, you probably have 10+ “frogs” on your plate on any given day. They might all seem important, but you already know what the biggest “frog” is – it’s the one you keep putting off because it’s unpleasant or challenging. 

If you tackle the least enjoyable project first — as soon as you get into the office — the rest of your day should be smooth sailing. There may be other unpleasant tasks on your plate, but they should seem easier and smaller by comparison. 

2. Break projects into small goals

Some projects are too big to tackle at once, like writing that report or launching a newsletter. Their size creates inertia, and you end up doing nothing. If you can break each project into smaller goals, those subtasks become easier to handle. For example, you might decide to: 

  • Write page 1 of the report by the end of today
  • Draft a bulleted outline of your newsletter by noon 

This approach helps you overcome inertia so you start getting things done.

3. Minimize distractions

Social media, gossip sites, news articles — we all spend time on these distractions. We all know that we shouldn’t, but sometimes it’s hard to resist the temptation to pick up your phone and mindlessly scroll.

Willpower is one method, but some of us simply don’t have the discipline. A better approach may be to use browser add-ons or mobile apps, such as StayFocused or RescueTime, that can help you set screen-time goals or control your phone usage. You’ll be amazed at how much time you’re able to reclaim with these tools. 

4. Batch process non-urgent tasks

It’s hard to resist that satisfying “ding” when you get a new email, but does that message really need your time and attention right now? The answer is usually no. 

Rather than tackle each “non-urgent” message that comes along, it may be better to process your email in batches at set times throughout the day. Just be sure to turn off any and all notifications. Batch processing can also work with invoicing, bookkeeping, and other frequently occurring tasks. 

5. Reduce (or eliminate) meetings

Some meetings can be counterproductive, especially when everyone is required to be there. Sometimes the majority of decisions can be handled on a case-by-case basis via email or face-to-face interaction.

For must-have meetings, consider these time-saving tips: 

  • Include only essential personnel
  • Have a clear agenda written in advance
  • Set a time limit of 30 minutes (or less) 

6. Learn keyboard shortcuts

From Word to Gmail to Salesforce, nearly every software program has native keyboard shortcuts. It might take some time to remember and get in the habit of using these specific shortcuts, but the long-term benefits can add up. According to some studies, keyboard shortcuts can lead to productivity and can save you up to eight entire workdays each year.1

7. Embrace telecommuting and flextime

The pandemic has changed many people’s perception of work-from-home life. It proved that employees could be productive away from the office. Working from home offers many benefits, including improving the mental health and morale of your employees. Encourage your team to telecommute whenever possible.

The same goes for flextime — i.e., the ability to adjust one’s work schedule earlier or later in the day. Remember, as the boss, you also can take advantage of these benefits.

8. Use software integration

As a small business, you may use any number of software programs and apps to manage inventory, keep track of the books, schedule appointments, or even do payroll. By synchronizing your software into an all-in-one system, you can help streamline tasks, reduce errors, and save time.

Want more small business productivity tips?

There are countless ways to make your small business more streamlined and efficient, with the list above representing the tip of the iceberg. 

If you’d like to see how Clover’s business management and point-of-sale solutions can help with time-saving tactics, schedule a free consultation with our merchant services team today.

1 “How keyboard shortcuts could revive America’s economy,” Brainscape

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