SMB leaders: How to boost your productivity at work

Monday 17 June 2013

With temperatures on the rise and light evenings to enjoy, there are plenty of distractions from work at this time of year, as well as plenty of good reasons to set time aside for your social life. But for small and medium-sized business (SMB) leaders, in such a competitive environment, it can often be difficult to take your foot off the gas.

At the same time, however, relaxation and recuperation is vital for SMB bosses - without family and leisure pursuits, burn-out becomes a real risk. The question is, how do you go about balancing the often conflicting needs of your company and your personal wellbeing?

The first thing to look at is your productivity rates. Working long hours is not always the key to success in business, it is how you use your time that makes the biggest difference. Operating efficiently, effectively and productively for eight hours a day will inevitably deliver greater output than being disorganised for 12. And this will leave you plenty of time to get to that BBQ with your friends, go for a day out or take the kids to the park.

So how should SMB bosses go about improving their productivity? Here are some tips for working effectively, allowing you to keep those evenings and weekends free:

Sleep well - this is crucial in terms of being refreshed for the next day at work, and ready to be on the top of your game. Fatigue can quickly impact upon productivity rates, as well as consistency, accuracy, and quality of service.

Take exercise - whether it is a run in the morning before work, 30 minutes in the gym at lunchtime, or organised sport in your leisure time, exercise has a valuable role to play. This helps keep stress levels low, helping you to keep standards high in the workplace.

Keep a diary - this allows you to plan ahead for the week, month and year, and manage your time as effectively as possible.

Make to-do lists - give yourself targets for the day, both high and low-priority. Getting the important tasks done first will help take the pressure off, and ensure you aren't running around in a frenzied state in the afternoon.

Set deadlines - if one task is taking too long, or there are obstacles getting in the way of its completion, it may be better to move on to something else. Return to the task at a later point in time. Setting deadlines can help you to avoid developing a backlog of work that you can't clear.

Delegate tasks - this will not only ensure you can focus on more value-adding tasks for the company, but ensures you employees are also making the best possible use of their time. When running an SMB it is not just personal productivity you need to think about, it is how everyone else is working as well.

De-clutter - keeping your desk tidy is always a good idea, it gives you freedom to operate and also ensures vital paperwork won't go missing. Time spent looking for lost documents is time that could be spent focusing on other tasks.

Avoid distractions - communicating with staff is all important, but sometimes you need to be able to shut the office door and give your full concentration to the task in hand. Get this completed, and then get out and talk to your workers.

Use mobile technology - having access to a connected laptop, smartphone or tablet means you can work effectively on the move, making the most of those otherwise 'dead' hours on trains, in taxis and in hotel rooms.

Automate tasks - technology can be a trusted ally, no matter how large or small your enterprise. Using IT to automate time-consuming manual tasks frees up space in your schedule to focus on tasks which can boost the bottom line.

Find out more about how Microsoft solutions can help boost business productivity.

Posted by Sarah Parish