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5 Lessons in Maximizing Productivity From a Three-Time Business Owner

Simon Slade

Busy people are always seeking new ways to maximize productivity, and business owners and entrepreneurs are some of the busiest people I know. As the CEO and co-founder of three businesses, I deeply value high productivity for myself and my company. I am constantly improving upon my own productivity and seeking new tools and resources to help me.

Higher productivity means you can get more accomplished in the time that you have and also have more time to spend doing the things that you love. If that sounds good, here are some of my recommendations.

1. Use the Tools/Resources Available to You

Because greater productivity has become so important to our population in this day and age, there are a number of tools available to help you achieve your goal. If you aren’t using apps and resources to manage your productivity, you’re missing out on some valuable — and often free — help.

One of these must-haves is an online calendar application. A written planner is great if that’s your thing, but it’s no substitute for an online calendar that you can share with others, access from your phone, and use to set reminders. This Digital Trends article recommends some of the best calendar apps for both iOS and Android.

For any business owner, another must-have tool for maximizing productivity is project management software. It keeps you and your team organized and connected. At SaleHoo, we use ClockingIt, which provides a central location for our team to communicate, set deadlines, and track time spent on each task. Logging time helps to identify tasks that are taking up too much time, and adjust accordingly. Plus, the direct, project-based communication eliminates the need for distractions such as mass emails and wandering around the office looking for a teammate.

A number of tools will help you learn and grow as a person and entrepreneur without wasting any time. Flipboard allows me to scan a compilation of the top articles from an array of publications on a specific topic. That means I don’t waste time searching for industry-related news everyday — it’s already compiled for me. Blinkist packages up the juicy information from nonfiction books into 15-minute lessons that are easy to digest. But these are just two of the tools that can help you stay educated and informed with just a few extra minutes a day.

2. Outsource Tasks When Necessary

Maximizing your productivity doesn’t mean taking on an obscene amount of tasks and “making” time for all of them. Productivity is inherently tied to good leadership and the ability to delegate, rather than taking on everything by yourself. Every time you notice that your productivity is decreasing or your performance is suffering, designate at least one task to someone else. While you can use productivity strategies to maximize your effort, it’s also important to be realistic about what one person can do effectively.

For business owners, this means hiring becomes vitally important to your productivity. Not only do you need a team that can do the job well, but you also need a team that is flexible and reliable. Your employees need to be able to adapt to new projects to find the most productive arrangement. Every time you hire a new person, remember that you might eventually need to give them control over something you’re currently handling. Ask yourself whether they’ll be successful with evolving responsibilities.

3. Exercise

It would be remiss to leave out the importance of exercise when discussing my own realizations about productivity over the course of my career. Exercising is a personal matter, but I’ve found two things make it much easier for me to be consistent in my exercise schedule: a workout partner and a mid-day workout routine. Rather than just taking a lunch break, another CEO and I have squash training during our lunch period. My squash partner holds me accountable so I always do my workout. This mid-day exercise not only energizes me and makes me more productive in the (often sluggish) afternoon, but it also breaks up my day nicely. Instead of a long, drawn-out workday, I have two manageable morning and afternoon sessions.

Get into a daily routine and find someone to exercise with. If your partner is counting on you to be there, you’ll be less likely to cancel. Self-care and health are vital to productivity. Just as you can’t be productive when you have too much on your plate, you can’t be productive when you’re sick or sedentary.

4. Schedule Thoughtfully

Your schedule directly affects your level of productivity. There is no one-fits-all scheduling system, so spend some time and energy finding the schedule that works best for you. If you don’t keep traditional hours, you might have high levels of productivity at uncommon times.

To figure out your ideal scheduling arrangement, pay close attention to your energy levels and focus through the day. At what times does your brain do well on certain tasks? At what time during the day does your productivity start to decline? It might be worth journaling on this topic for a week or so. When you have a better picture of how your energy fluctuates in a given day, arrange your meetings, planning, and big-picture thinking accordingly.

Another important factor to consider in scheduling is the value of completing a task or meeting from start to finish with no interruptions. When you’re required to pause a meeting or project, it takes time to remember where you left off when you return to it. I’ve found that scheduling blocks of time with an eye toward completion is more productive.

5. Reassess Constantly

Just as with any other product or strategy, testing is the key to growth. You can always maximize your productivity more than you have already. Continue to reorganize your strategy and try new routines to improve.

Even if you find a system that works, be aware of the fact that it might stop working one day. Continue reading articles like this and seeking more information so you can find new ways to get the most out of your time and energy. Good luck!

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