Luke Babich March 5th, 2024

Organizing Your Day for Maximum Small-Business Productivity

Americans don’t feel optimistic about the economy in 2024, and that includes small-business owners. In fact, nearly half of small-business owners believe that 2024 will be a “make or break” year for their business. 

Turning your small business into a success can seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built day by day. Your small business will be built the same way — by stacking one productive day on top of another. 

Keep reading for tips on how small-business owners can organize their days for maximum productivity.

Know what needs to be done

As a small-business owner, being maximally productive each day could be the difference between building a profitable business for yourself and commuting for hours to a job you hate and working for a horrible boss

The first step toward productivity is knowing exactly what you need to get done. Survey the tasks at hand and organize them. You can use task apps or a project management tool for this. What needs to get done in the next hour, in the next day, in the next week, or in the next month? Tackle the most urgent tasks first to ensure you address everything that needs to get done and then work your way down the list.

Set priorities and keep the big picture in mind

A lot of your workday will be spent on urgent tasks, such as paying invoices, attending meetings, and returning phone calls and emails. This day-to-day work is highly important because it keeps the gears of your business turning. 

But don’t forget to take time to zoom out, too. Although work on immediate needs keeps the business running, big-picture moves are the key to large-scale success. Think of it as the difference between making a quick $500 or making a long term $5 million. 

Recruiting the right employees, plotting ways to expand, and brainstorming new product or marketing initiatives have a massive impact on your future success, but those tasks never really need to be completed immediately. Set aside some time for this important work or your business could become stagnant. 

Create a schedule

When you know what tasks you need to do, place them all into a simple schedule using an hourly planner template. Structure your workday with the most urgent tasks first, and stack your most cognitively demanding tasks in your most productive periods. For most people, that's usually early in the workday or around midday. Complete your easiest, least-taxing work — such as data entry — at the end of the day. 

Indecision is one of the biggest thieves of your time, so once you compose your schedule, stick to it. Be careful not to overschedule yourself. This will become easier as you get accustomed to scheduling your day and get a better feel for how much time different types of work require. Once you get good at composing your schedule, make the next day’s schedule as your last task each day so you can hit the ground running each morning.

Finally, if you discover that you simply cannot fit all your work into your day, you might have to seriously consider letting other employees handle some of your responsibilities. 

Delegate and automate

As your small business picks up momentum, you’ll need to make some hard choices about what kind of work is the best use of your time. 

If you’re the founder and you have to make high-stakes decisions, it doesn’t make sense for you to spend a significant percentage of your time on mundane work that others could do. Consider hiring support staff or a virtual assistant to handle simple logistical work, such as scheduling, document management, payroll, and other administrative tasks. 

You can also delegate mid-level tasks once you’ve hired some trusted employees, but you must resist the urge to micromanage them. Nothing brings down workplace morale like a boss who stands behind your chair and dictates how to do everything.

When you’re streamlining and creating efficient processes, look for opportunities to incorporate automation into your business. Customer service is one field that can be handled largely by artificial intelligence, such as chatbots. Outsourcing it to AI can translate into significant savings for your business. 

Remove distractions

Help yourself focus by removing distractions from your workspace. If you have trouble staying off your phone, keep it in a locked drawer or in the next room. There are also apps that will lock out any time-wasting sites for preset periods of time. 

If your coworkers are a source of distraction, establish firm boundaries. Some experts suggest having open-door office hours, during which your coworkers are free to drop in. Outside of that limited time window, you’re to be left alone so you can focus on work. 

Don’t multitask, monotask instead

Studies have shown that multitasking is actually an extremely inefficient way to work. Each shift in your attention requires a relatively long adjustment period to refocus, so you end up wasting more time than you’re actually working. Experts estimate that it takes around 20 minutes to fully refocus after you shift your attention from one task to the next. That means if you shuttle between three tasks, you’ll waste a full hour for each “circuit” of multitasking.  

A much better way to work is monotasking. This simply means focusing intently on a single task until it's complete and then shifting to the next task. This maximizes your attention span by forcing you to focus until you enter a “flow state” and dramatically reduces wasted time. 

Take breaks

If you’re maximizing your day by working in intense bursts, you’ll need to pause and recharge periodically. Build short breaks into your schedule so you can relax a little before you tackle the next action item on your schedule. Reward yourself with social media check-ins or a walk around the block before starting your next task.

With nearly half of Americans stressed about a poor work-life balance, it's crucial to take time for yourself. Resist the temptation to skip or work through breaks. Burnout is real and will severely reduce your productivity over the long term. 

Featured Image by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Luke Babich

Luke Babich is the Co-Founder of Clever Real Estate, a real estate education platform committed to helping home buyers, sellers and investors make smarter financial decisions. Luke is a licensed real estate agent in the State of Missouri and his research and insights have been featured on BiggerPockets, Inman, the LA Times, and more. Education: B.A. with Honors, Political Science — Stanford University

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *