Five easy ways to increase productivity when you're your own boss

Sylvia Pennington

Chief among the benefits of being in charge of your own small business or startup is the fact that there’s no one telling you what to do or how to do it. 

However, that also means there’s nobody to crack the whip or give you a kick in the pants if you slack off while you’re on the tools. And if you do, it’s your business – and yourself – that you’re doing down.

Here are some simple tips to up your productivity during the hours you spend on the job.

Get moving

Mega days in the office means there’s no opportunity to hit the gym, pound the pavement or get out there on your bike? Your mistake. There’s research aplenty that suggests regular exercise – think 30 minutes a day, up to five days a week – will leave you with more energy and increased mental alertness. Really can’t spare the time? Suggest staff bring in their sneakers and hold some of your meetings on the hoof.

Email black-out

You’ve got mail, so you’ll read it straightaway, just in case it’s urgent and needs to be actioned yesterday? Such missives are few and far between but the habit of suspending whatever you’re doing every time your computer pings can destroy your concentration and make other, genuinely important tasks take longer than they should. Set aside a couple of time slots each day for dealing with emails and ignore your inbox with vigour in the interim.

Mega days in the office means there’s no opportunity to hit the gym, pound the pavement or get out there on your bike? Your mistake.

Clean up your act

Untidy office, untidy mind? While some folk swear they do their best work amidst a sea of clutter, it’s not true for the majority. A messy workspace is distracting and can mean you waste valuable time hunting for important items that have gone AWOL. If “don’t put it down, put it away” is a rule you just can’t stick to, then consider slotting regular clean-up times into your schedule.

The List

Writing endless lists of tasks that you know need doing when you eventually get around to it can be a procrastination exercise in its own right. A short and sweet to-do list, on the other hand, is a powerful productivity aid. Stick to three things a day and tick them off as you go.

Phone a friend

Making yourself accountable to another person can be an excellent incentive to stay on track. If you don’t have a partner to help keep your nose to the grindstone, consider palling up with another small business owner for regular catch-ups, in person or online, where you can compare progress notes and give each other a prod.

Sylvia Pennington

Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.