A business manager’s productivity can turn into a business’s most important competitive advantage. Without a deep management team, the health and growth of many small businesses depend largely on the decisions of their owner(s). Therefore, it is vital that small business owners adopt best practices to maximize their personal productivity which spills over to the productivity of their business.
Managing a To Do List
A To Do list can be a manager’s best friend or worst enemy depending on how they manage it. One danger of a To Dos list is managers get caught up in planning rather than doing. To avoid this scenario, a manager should approach a To Do list as helping prioritize action items for short-term execution. This list should not be confused with strategic planning. Rather, a To Do list should be updated in less than 15 minutes, preferably at the end of the day so that a manager can focus mornings on execution instead of administration.
Leave the Hardest Tasks for the Morning
Beat the desire to push back on the most difficult tasks on your To Do list and take advantage of the part of the day when you have the most brainpower to get the task done efficiently. Leaving difficult things for the tail end of your day can be risky as inefficiency creates a vicious cycle that can deteriorate the quality of your work and increase the time it takes to get done. And as a manager, it is not only your energy and brainpower but that of your team.
If you do not control yourself, you can easily get caught up reading and responding to e-mails all day without executing high priority action items. The first hack is to establish specific times in your day when to check e-mails instead of reviewing your inbox at every moment. If you are expecting an urgent email, be attentive but not distracted from executing other tasks – multi-tasking at heart. Not only do e-mails take time to read but it takes time to “get back in the zone” with the task at hand.
Schedule a “Thinking Hour” at Least a Couple Times a Week
In most cases, it is inevitable for small business owners to roll-up their sleeves and get things done when they need to. But, it is even more important that owners take time to step back and think. All business managers should schedule non-negotiable thinking time to reflect on the business or simply take a break. Sometimes the best ideas come when one least expects them to.
Never Attend a Meeting Without a Clear Agenda
A business manager’s time is the most precious resource. There is nothing more frustrating that walking out of a meeting feeling like it was a complete waste of time. Ensure that each meeting you participate in has a clear agenda that aligns with your business priorities. To the extent it is a low priority item, ask a team member to attend or push back the date. Also, structured meetings avoid unnecessary chit chat and ensure you walk away with helpful information and/or clear action items.