Businesses have finite resources, and a good manager knows how to use these resources effectively and efficiently. Hacks are about making processes and employees better. These actions are called productivity hacks—best practices that help people make good use of their time and produce more.
Here are the ten best productivity hacks small businesses can leverage today and implement swiftly.
Best Productivity Hacks Small Businesses Can Leverage Today
Outsourcing means passing the work to another company—work that they specialize in.
For example, why would you pay someone to do your payroll if they have nothing to do most of the time before payday? It is a waste of money, and that employee will not be productive most of the time.
Another good position to outsource is accounting. As a small business, you do not need an in-house accounting department. You are better off hiring a bookkeeper to manage your tax for you. Outsourcing is excellent for mundane tasks. Focus on the core of your business and outsource the rest.
Here’s the list of best freelance sites to help you find the best-fit freelancers for your specific business. If you’re on the fence, our article has information to consider - Employee or Independent Contractor: Which One Is Best for You?
2. Break Goals Into Small Pieces
Some employees get confused if the goal is too big. What you can do is break the goal down into small chunks. Set a timeline for each mini-goal. For example, let us say that your target is to deliver a gaming app in six months. It is a huge undertaking, so break it down. One team’s goal is to complete the graphic arts, and then another team’s goal is to write the code. You must set step goals for each group and tell them what their priorities are.
Our article, 14 Employees Goals Examples & How to Set SMART Goals, outlines how SMART goals help you achieve your objectives in a clearly defined, actionable way.
3. Delegate Work
Divide and conquer is a powerful principle in getting things done. To meet your goals, assign tasks to people capable of getting them done.
In your business, you can delegate several tasks to several people, and below are some examples:
- Customer relations
As you assign these tasks to a person or a group, you also have to ensure that the responsibilities do not overlap. It is not a good idea to assign production & marketing to the same person. On the other hand, it is an excellent choice to delegate both sourcing and production under one umbrella.
4. Stop Multitasking
Some people claim that doing two tasks at the same time is productive. It isn’t. In many cases, it only leads to people submitting half-baked work.
Here are some ways how multi-tasking hampers productivity:
- Slows down employees
- Impairs logical train of thought
- Places undue pressure on people
Multi-tasking is something you should not encourage in your business. While there are some occasions where it makes sense, one still needs to take caution.
5. Organize Or Make A Plan
Planning is often confused with thinking about what to do. That is not how simple it is. Planning entails a detailed list of actions and when to deliver these results.
Planning is about setting accountability.
For example, you can tell the marketing department manager to create a timeline of events to achieve a certain goal. There must be a concrete plan to get to that goal, say, producing a video ad.
A plan must have the following things:
- People responsible
- Date results should be in
- Breakdown of tasks and mini-goals
- Steps to complete
To create a plan, you may need a task table, a calendar of events, or a chart of who is responsible for what. It has to be a document that tells people what to do and when to accomplish tasks.
6. Use Apps
Many apps can improve a company’s productivity. Some examples of these apps are Slack®, Hive®, Google® Docs, and ToDoist®.
These apps can calendar or shared documentation software platforms. If we take Google docs as an example, people can edit the same document simultaneously. There is no need to send the document in back-and-forth emails.
In a typical working environment, people would access the document as an attachment, read it, and send it back. It entails hours of wait time from the final recipient’s end. With Google docs, people can edit the document together.
Another good example of an app you can use to facilitate automation is an invoice generating tool that makes it easy to send invoices to clients. With this tool, you can automate the entire process and not have to type each piece of information again & again.
7. Track Time Spent
One good practice in a business is called Time in Motion—you track how much time a person spends on each task. People measure actions per mouse click, or per action required to complete a task at a granular level.
At the end of the study, you take a look at the top activities where people spend most of their time. Then, you make a decision on how to improve that.
8. Use the Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle is also called the 80/20 Rule. In essence, it says that 80% of the problems are because of 20% of the root causes. Below is a case to demonstrate it.
- There are five printers
- 800 of the 1,000 prints are bad
- You decide to fix all printers
This decision is wrong. In the Pareto Principle, it is likely that a vast majority of the defective prints are happening because of only two printers.
If you fix all five printers, you just spend a ton of money. The thing is that you could have fixed only the two that are causing the problem. The Pareto Principle is about analyzing root causes.
Since you cannot solve all problems, you only fix the ones that are causing the most issues. It is a matter of getting the most out of the effort to fix the root causes.
9. Reduce Meetings
Many business leaders love meetings. It makes them talk, and the entire ordeal centers around them. Meetings, to be honest, are pretty useless. Meetings are only meaningful if there is a real agenda or if there is an important announcement.
Stop meeting your team often. Instead, meet once a week and then make sure every accountability is clear. If you spend hours in meetings, your team could have used that time to work and be productive.
10. Automate Tasks If Possible
There are many machines now that you can use to automate tasks. For example, there is no need to calculate sales and profits on a manual basis. At the very least, there are spreadsheet programs that can calculate inputs via formulas.
Better yet, use software programs. For example, you can use applications to help you manage your inventory. Instead of counting stocks one by one, you view the report from the app and then make decisions from there.
You can do the same with printing shipping labels, managing payroll, taxes, inventory, and so much more. While the financial investment may seem high, it certainly is cheaper than relying on manual work.
Productivity is an important aspect of business success. One mistake that many managers make is to simply bark orders at their employees.
This kind of management is archaic—it does not work anymore as there are better ways to motivate employees.
Instead of looking at people, look at the process. Determine if there are practices that you can improve or if you can use tools as leverage to get the job done faster.
A hack is never about employees working faster. On most occasions, it is about working smarter.
About the Author
With 10+ years of eCommerce and marketing experience, Bhujal is passionate about helping businesses get more revenue and profit through customized strategies. Bhujal lives in Toronto, ON, and writes about affiliate marketing programs and scaling your eCom business at mydigitalkube.com®.