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Five productivity hacks for time-poor SMEs

When you’re a time-poor business owner whose attention is being pulled in all directions by competing obligations it can be difficult to focus on improving productivity. And while a growing customer base is good for the bottom line, if you’re a ‘one-man band’ you might begin to feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

Here are five simple strategies to enable business owners to focus on increasing their productivity rather than being preoccupied with keeping their heads above the water:

Dissect big tasks into smaller pieces

When faced with a big project where a lot of money is at stake, it’s easy for people to feel overwhelmed. If the clock is ticking, the odds can seem insurmountable. This can lead to procrastination and mounting stress as the deadline approaches and clients begin to breathe down your neck.

Breaking down a big project into smaller, more manageable pieces is an effective way of ‘getting the show on the road’. Critically, setting a series of attainable and clearly defined milestones enhances focus and is motivating because it creates a sense of accomplishment, and progress can be easily tracked.

Devise procedures for regular tasks

Preparing written procedures for recurring administrative tasks enables business owners to efficiently navigate through them, freeing up their time to focus on tasks that drive business growth. It also helps ‘take the edge off’ when having to deal with multiple deadlines.  Incorporating checklists into written procedures, and revising those procedures over time, will help ensure you ‘tick all the right boxes’ and mitigate the risk of making potentially costly mistakes.

Eliminate distractions   

Allowing incoming phone calls and emails to dictate your daily work schedule is a good way to put out fires but it’s also a real productivity killer as it will result in business-critical tasks piling up. It’s crucial to set aside sufficient time in your day to solely work through your checklist of priorities based on time-sensitivity and potential gains as well as the likely ease of completion.

Try setting aside an hour every morning and afternoon to respond to emails and phone calls. Relevantly, it’s useful to manage the expectations of people who contact you: being upfront with people in terms of when they can expect a response not only buys you time to address pressing tasks, it also helps ensure you aren’t hounded about matters that are not urgent.

Be disciplined, don’t sit around

In his book ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’, Stephen King wrote: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” He was speaking about authors but the quote is equally true for business people: you can’t afford to wait for your best idea to emerge, nor can you afford to wait until you are ‘in the zone’, before getting started on a time-sensitive project – you need to get the ball rolling. A good approach is to write down all of your ideas and then workshop the ones that create further sparks.

Find the right people to help

You might be an expert in your field – and possess business nous – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should handle every single job in your business. Having reliable employees who can perform the jobs that prevent you from tending to critical tasks can have a positive impact on your productivity levels. Sharing the workload allows business owners to mitigate the risk of burn-out while maintaining high energy levels as they work on growing the business.

Recruiting, however, can be a long and time consuming process. The Australian Government’s job placement program, jobactive, is an invaluable source of labour for small business owners seeking to increase their productivity levels. They can tap into a network of jobactive providers from over 1,700 locations across Australia to connect with screened and job-ready candidates that fit their business needs.

Plus, employers could be eligible for financial incentives if they employ job seekers through jobactive. Employers could get a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 by hiring mature age workers (50+) or workers aged 15 to 24 years of age. Meanwhile, businesses that hire eligible job seekers who are 25 to 29 year of age, principal carer parents, in long-term unemployment or indigenous can obtain up to $6,500 in wage subsidies.

For more information on the wage subsidies your business may be eligible for, click here

For more information on how jobactive can help you in the hiring process, watch the below video Scrumptious on Summer Café’:

Scrumptious on Summer café used jobactive to help expand their business

Owner of Scrumptious on Summer Cafe in Orange, Suzy, shares what she looks for when hiring new staff and how she was able to find the right fit for the Scrumptious family with jobactive. If you’re looking for the right staff to fit your business, find out how jobactive can help – https://jobsearch.gov.au/find-the-right-fit

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James Harkness

James Harkness

James Harnkess previous editor at Dynamic Business

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