Productivity secrets of successful small business owners

Prioritize, digitize, breathe

Running a small business takes a lot of hard work. Many successful small business owners, however, find that they can get the most out of their days by using a few tricks that make them more productive. Working hard certainly helps, but you also have to work smart. Try these five secrets from successful small business owners to make yourself and your business more productive.

1. Put an end to multitasking.

MultitaskingA lot of people think that they’re good multitaskers; research shows that nearly all of them are mistaken about their abilities. In reality, only about 2.5 percent of people can concentrate on more than one task without any performance decline.

As a small business owner, you can boost your productivity levels by concentrating on one task at a time. Prioritizing your time is key to a successful day — a strategy that New Hampshire’s 2014 Small Business Person of the Year, Chris Licata, stands behind. “Defining a very short list of true priorities helps focus teams and create alignment behind those projects that truly are the most important,” says Chris, owner and CEO of  Blake’s All Natural Foods, a fourth-generation family-owned business in Concord.

Make note of what’s most important and complete these tasks before you start others that are less important. Create a daily schedule for yourself and your employees to help keep them focused on the task at hand. To-do lists are an essential part of completing complicated tasks because they help you concentrate on the goals you need to accomplish.

2. Use technology to organize tasks.

Today’s technology makes it easier for business owners to stay on schedule. Don’t bother with a paper calendar that you can’t easily carry with you at all times. Business deals get made out in the field, not sitting around the office. Go digital and put your to-do list on your smartphone so you can access it easily at any time. Some of my favorite digital to-do list managers include:

  • Wunderlist. Available for free on 10 platforms, Wunderlist makes it easy to organize your work or complete shopping lists, then share them with friends, family or coworkers.
  • Todoist. Keep your team focused and more productive by collaborating on projects and managing tasks, with apps and extensions for 13 platforms.
  • Google Keep. Keep all your tasks and to-do lists in one place right on Google, accessible via the web, Chrome and Android.
  • Sync your daily work, life and personal goals with this clean and elegant app for the web, Android, iPhone and Chrome.


All of these task managers will enable you to create schedules that will help keep you focused throughout the day.

3. Organize your space.

It’s not surprising that keeping your office space organized will make you more productive — in addition to making any employees you might have happier about coming into the office. Anyone who has worked in a cluttered office understands why people don’t work efficiently in disorganized environments. Clutter reduces efficiency by:

  • Increasing the number of workplace accidents
  • Making information and files difficult to locate
  • Increasing the amount of time it takes to complete even the simplest tasks

The bottom line is that poor organization makes it nearly impossible for an office to run smoothly. When people don’t know where items are, they have to waste time searching for them. That alone should convince you to spend a few minutes each day keeping the office organized.

4. Hire a personal assistant.

As the person in charge of running the show, why would you waste time on simple tasks like filing paperwork, proofreading memos, and coordinating schedules? You’ll free up more time to do what you do best by assigning lower-level responsibilities to a personal or virtual assistant. Companies including eaHELP, Zirtual and Team Double-Click provide affordable virtual assistant services. Many of them offer customizable membership plans designed to meet the unique needs of each individual client.

5. Set aside time for reflection.

Some entrepreneurs feel like they aren’t getting ahead unless they spend every hour working as hard as possible. Unfortunately, these business leaders usually become less efficient as they become more stressed and tired. Sound familiar? Avoid this trap by setting aside a little time each day for reflection.

Mindfulness plays a key role in improving productivity while helping you make smarter decisions. By setting aside just 15 minutes of each day to focus on breathing, you can reduce stress — and that will enable you to run your business better. Some studies even show that leaders who practice mindfulness have happier employees. Those employees, in turn, become more productive, possibly because they don’t have grumpy bosses making them anxious.

What do you do to boost your productivity? Please share in the comments below!