Running an end of lease cleaning company has had its share of challenges. As a small business owner, I’ve had to wear many hats. Splitting time between organising cleaners, customer service, design, web development, and marketing. I’ve often been overwhelmed, procrastinating over the littlest things, and stressed from all the seemingly equally essential tasks.
In this article, I’d like to share with you some of my favourite small business productivity tips to “get sh*t done”.
Use “To Do Lists”
There’s a plethora of “to do list” apps in the market and that’s because we all work a little differently. Some of us are extensive planners, while others prefer sticky notes on the monitor. Whatever tool you do end up choosing will likely carry you through to the next phase of your business, so invest a little time into your research and select an app that suits your work style.
At This is Neat Cleaning, we love to use Trello. Not only does it feel great to cross off tasks in our checklists, but it also helps us prioritise the work into different categories. It’s also a great collaborative tool as team members can share the same boards to coordinate work.
Here are some tips when writing your to-do lists.
- Write your to-do list the night before. This way, you can start your day running without wasting your morning deciding what to do next.
- Only attempt to tackle the three most important tasks of the day. If you finish, you can always decide to achieve more (and of course you will).
- Use the 80/20 rule to decide which tasks to tackle first, prioritising the tasks that you feel will have the most impact on your small business.
Find Your Focus
Let’s face it; we live in a world of distractions. With the advent of social media, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all fight for our attention every second of the day. But you know better. Focus is the key to getting anything done, so use these techniques to stay on point.
The Pomodoro Technique
By allocating work to specific blocks of time, you leave yourself with very few excuses. With the Pomodoro Technique, you allocate 25-minute blocks to work with a 5-minute break in between. Personally, 25 minutes is too short for me to reach any state of flow, so I use a 50-minute increments instead with a 10-minute break.
When you hit that start button, nothing else happens other than the task you’re 100% focused on. For each block, have a “distractions” ban. This means, turning your phone on “do not disturb mode”, restricting websites on your browser, and having drinks and snacks ready at your desk.
Be strict. Promise yourself that as long as that timer is ticking, there’s only a single thing that matters. When that voice in your head tells you to check out ticket sales to Bali or to read up on that obscure Wikipedia article, take a mental note and then continue working. There’s always another break coming, so challenge yourself to keep going.
If you’re diligent with your time, you can even set 50-minute blocks specifically for social media, shopping, or to browse the internet. Pomodoro isn’t about restriction; it’s about focus. What you choose to do with each block is all up to you.
Keep Energy Levels High
We’ve all been there, full of beans in the morning then completely drained in the afternoon. Having the energy to get through the day is a huge factor in being able to stay productive. Here are a few tips to keep those energy levels high.
Get enough sleep
You can almost guarantee that starting any business will involve a few sleepless nights. Just try not to make it the norm. Getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep will make sure you’re not lethargic on the next day. Running a business is a grind, and your long-term mental and physical health is much more important than any short-term gains you’ll gain by staying up.
Move your body
Another advantage of the Pomodoro technique is that you have a 10-minute break between blocks to get up from your chair to stretch, walk, or make tea. As long as it involves getting up and changing positions (particularly if you sit at a computer all day), your body will recognise a change in pace, and you’ll instantly become more alert.
Try a standing desk
I get it, sitting down is just too comfortable when you have a dual monitor setup with an ergonomic chair. But there’s been more than enough research that says sitting for long periods of time should probably be avoided. To mitigate these risks, try alternating between sitting and standing. If you’re still bootstrapping, you don’t need a fancy motorised standing desk, just a cardboard box to prop up your laptop or monitor will work.
Can’t get enough productivity tips? Check out our interview with Rombourne for more insights into optimising your day.