If you own or manage a small or medium-sized business, you know the importance of getting more done with less. You likely have fewer employees and resources, while juggling more roles and responsibilities.
Small and medium-sized businesses account for more than 99 percent of U.S. businesses today, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which means that smaller businesses make a big impact on the economy and the world. What this statistic doesn’t say is that small business owners and their teams work really hard, and that focus and productivity can make the difference between failure and success.
If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, you have no choice but to get more accomplished during the business day. Some days, of course, that’s easier said than done. If you could use a little more focus and a little less distraction in your work week, the following tips can help you hone in on greater productivity.
Use the interval method.
How long do you typically work before you take a break? If the answer is “two minutes” or “two-plus hours,” then you need to incorporate a little more math into your workday. Workplace productivity experts recommend focused work, followed by breaks, rather than excessively long (or short) periods of work. Florida State University researchers discovered that elite performers who worked about 90 minutes at a stretch were more productive than those who tried to power on past that mark. Likewise, the highly touted Pomodoro Technique encourages work in 25-minute sessions, followed by short breaks (and one longer one after four such intervals). Don’t get distracted by social media after just a few minutes and don’t force yourself to work past your point of focus. Find the schedule that works best for you and then stick with it.
Love what you do.
If you can combine your life passions with your paycheck, you are in luck. When you enjoy your work, you won’t find yourself avoiding it. And happy employees are an impressive 12 percent more productive. If you aren’t exactly enamored with your job, your role or your company right now, remember that you always have the ability to make a change.
Move your body.
You might think that you need to skip the gym to handle expense reports and employee reviews, but that hour you take to strengthen and stretch your body actually improves your productivity back at the office. Exercise can enhance creativity and reduce stress, bolster your concentration and ability to remember while strengthening mental stamina. It can also put you in a better mood – which goes a long way toward positive workplace dynamics. Strength training, cardio and yoga are all beneficial for your body and your mind – even a few minutes can change the shape of your day. Next time you think “I just don’t have the time,” remind yourself that, indeed, you do.
“Brain vitamins” for entrepreneurs and go-getters, nootropics are “smart drugs” engineered to help you focus, bounce back and think more clearly. They consist of herbal and dietary supplements, research chemicals, caffeine and other ingredients that reportedly give users the rush of coffee without the jitters. Entrepreneurs espouse the focus, concentration and clarity they get from smart drugs while critics remind that there are no long-term studies on the effects of nootropics.
Eat to succeed.
The office breakroom is generally home to leftover donuts and cakes, rather than leafy greens and berries. And if you work from home, the temptation to snack your day away is omnipresent. But remember the old adage, you are what you eat; some foods will help you feel sharp while others will make everything fuzzy around the edges. Fill up on salmon and lean protein, nuts, berries, vegetables and whole grains (yes, carbs are a healthy part of any balanced diet) while decreasing consumption of processed/fast/junk food, sugary treats and fried food that will leave you feeling sluggish and not-so-focused.
There’s an app for that.
Simply search your favorite keyword such as “productivity,” “focus” or “efficiency,” for example, and let technology do the rest. Apps can help you manage time, stay on task, get organized, prioritize, whittle down your to-do list and so much more. One of my personal favorite apps for keeping on task is called “StayFocusd”, which allows you to block websites where you waste the most time.
Remember this — try to play as hard as you work. If you don’t have work-life balance, you will burn out sooner than later, no matter how focused you are or how much you enjoy your work. Spend time with family and friends. Get outside. Do something you love. Celebrate little and big victories. When you are focused and productive at work, you have that much more time to enjoy the rest of the day.