5 Productivity Tips for Small Businesses

By Mike Taylor
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Are you tired of spending all day at work only to look up at the end of the day to see you’ve actually accomplished very little?

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

An article from Inc cites a study that says, “in an 8-hour day, the average worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes.”

Between news, social media, water cooler talk, and every other imaginable distraction being thrown at us these days, it can be a major struggle to keep your team (and yourself) on-task and accomplishing goals.

So the question is, how can small businesses stay productive?

Well, here are 5 productivity tips small businesses can use to accomplish more and avoid distractions.

1. Master the art of meetings

Meetings can be the biggest productivity drain in your business, and mastering them is an art in-and-of itself. However, if you want to improve the productivity and reduce the frustration in your business, you’ll need to get a handle on meetings.

The first thing you can do is simply don’t let meetings drag on. One Fast Company article states, “According to the National Statistics Council, 37% of employee time is spent in meetings, and 47% of employees consider too many meetings to be the biggest waste of time during the day–more than social media or email.”

Think about that. Over one-third of employee time is spent in meetings. Chances are, those meetings could have been as simple as a quick 15-minute chat without all the digressions.

Not only that, but nearly half of employees feel as though meetings have become a huge waste of time.

To steer clear of terrible, productivity-draining meetings, you have to get strict on keeping meetings as short as possible and staying on-topic during meetings.

2. Use your calendar as your to-do list

If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t happen. Those really are words to live by, and according to one Forbes article, it’s a mindset many of the most successful people live by.

Think about a typical to-do list. You list out your priorities from most urgent and important to least urgent and important, then tackle them one by one with a single focus on that one task. It’s great in theory, and can even work well in application.

The problem is, a typical to-do list doesn’t take into account all the many different things that must be done within a day. Ideally, we should stick to accomplishing one task at a time, but that’s rarely possible for busy people. You might have meetings, calls, social media to manage, projects to review, and on and on. These things all interrupt your one-track mind when you’re trying to solely focus on one task.

Instead, lay out your to-do list on your calendar, that way you’re not interrupted when less important things must be done. Then you can arrange your day so you get everything done that must be done, and if you schedule everything right, you can avoid being pulled from place to place all day long.

Which leads to the next point.

3. Consolidate your schedule

You’ve probably experienced the frustration of a scattered schedule. You know, when you have meetings or events scheduled all day long, and there’s just enough time between each one for you to sit down and try to concentrate before being interrupted by your next meeting.

When meetings are scheduled sporadically, they leave little time in-between for concentration, which kills productivity.

To combat the scattered schedule, try to schedule meetings back-to-back and even on the same day where possible. It also never hurts to have a meeting-free day. Block one entire day per week if you have to. Whatever it takes, make sure you’re getting enough long blocks of time to actually work. Otherwise, you’ll just jump from thing to thing and nothing will end up getting done.

4. Operate in the cloud

In the simplest of terms, consider the “cloud” as a collection of servers that are located at a central location and shared by multiple users in different locations.

For this purpose, think of the cloud as an off-site storage facility managed by someone else. You get to use some of the space and resources without having to worry about buying and managing the property.

Cloud adoption is on the rise among businesses of practically all sizes, and it’s especially popular among small businesses. One of the main reasons cloud adoption has gained in popularity is the cost savings, flexibility, and productivity that typically come along with it.

As for productivity, the cloud saves teams time by allowing them to collaborate instantly (and often in real-time) through cloud-based applications like Google Drive, Dropbox, Asana, MailChimp, Quickbooks, and more.

One of the best ways to save time and money with the cloud is by using a cloud phone system. Having a cloud-based system frees up you and your IT team to concentrate on other projects/systems. And your team can communicate more quickly and effectively with a hosted phone system that includes Unified Communications (UC) features, which also helps increase productivity.

See the benefits and trends of cloud phone systems with our free on-demand webinar “Demystifying Cloud Hype – Which UC Solution is right for your network?”

5. Stop emailing co-workers

With advances in technology and instant messaging, it’s amazing how many teams still email one another as a means of internal communication. Instant messaging allows real-time communication and file sharing, as well as status indicators, to let you know if someone is available to talk.

If your phone system offers Unified Communications tools, it should include the ability to chat with coworkers without having to use third-party software. If not, instant messaging apps like Slack and Jabber are great alternatives to the slow and clunky email.

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About the Author

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor is a Content Marketing Specialist at Digium. He’s a small business and entrepreneurial enthusiast, and before joining Digium he spent years helping startups and businesses of all sizes grow using content and digital marketing strategies. He covers business and communication topics on Digium’s blog and on other business publications as well.

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