Productivity is often talked about in terms of large businesses with many employees. However, small businesses also need to prioritise the notion of â€˜getting things done.â€™ Productivity should always be a core goal of any workplace.Â
There are some proven ways to ensure that productivity is always at maximum levels.
Thanks to productivity methodologies and vastly improved technology, productivity is easier to boost than ever. From removing workplace distractions to using the best productivity resources, here are the eleven best productivity hacks for small business teams, in particular.
1. Help team members cut down on distractions
A distraction will always cost you time and money. For every distraction, workflow is interrupted and efficiency is reduced.
Distractions arenâ€™t just present in the traditional office space. More people are working remotely than ever, and they too can suffer from distraction issues.Â
Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s so important to remove as many distractions as possible. Although you canâ€™t technically remove those for your team (your team members should do that), you can implement strategies to get them to focus on their work. Just do the following:Â
- Implement flexible schedules: Not everyone needs to work a 9-5 to be productive. Allowing your team members to choose when and how they work makes it easier for them to avoid distractions. They know their routines better. Of course, you need to implement a strategy that works for your business.Â
- In-house quiet spaces: Offices are noisy. Loud telephones calls, office gossip, and even the muttering from a neighbouring desk can all interrupt workflow and reduce productivity. Designate certain parts of the office as quiet spaces.
- Have â€˜No Meetingâ€™ days: Business meetings are one of the most common distractions. While business meetings are often vital, they can be a pain when they donâ€™t achieve anything and you’re trying to get things done. No-Meeting Days mean that team members can focus on their work knowing that they wonâ€™t be interrupted.Â
- Implement robust security measures:Â A cyberattack can shut down an entire business. Ensure that even your remote team members understand the importance of cybersecurity and exercise the necessary precautions.
Even in small teams, distractions mean that your employees arenâ€™t creating the maximum output. Start implementing your productivity hacks, and youâ€™ll ensure that distractions are kept to a minimum.
2. Tap into the potential of automation
Improved efficiency is one of the best ways to ramp up productivity. The faster your team members can accomplish tasks, the more efficient your small business will be. Automation is often cited as one of the most high-value productivity hacks available, but itâ€™s become more important than that.Â
There are manual, repetitive tasks that your team wastes a lot of time on. By embracing automation, you free up your small business team so that they can move onto more valuable tasks. There are more automation tools available now than ever before. These include tools to automate:
- Data collection
- Ringing a number for cold calling
- Updating requests for set tasks
- Task approvals
Using automation for your marketing means that you can schedule your content or your ads to be released without direct supervision. That means you can avoid constant workflow interruption. You can focus on more high-value work.
There are more automation tools available than can feasibly be listed. As AI and ML become more cutting edge, automation is going to continue to grow beyond the notion of traditional productivity hacks.
3. Urge team members to use time-management techniques
Even a quick Google into time management techniques reveals a wide range of methods to experiment with. Encourage your team members to try out different kinds of time management techniques.Â
Some of the most well known are:
- Pareto Analysis (the 80/20 rule)
- Pomodoro Technique
- Eisenhower Matrix
- Parkinson’s Law
- GTD MethodÂ
- Rapid Planning Method
Ask them to have a look through some of the descriptions of these techniques. Many will not suit their work style. All they need to do is find the time management technique that suits them. They might be surprised by how easy they are to implement and how effective they can be.Â
If none of the more formalised time management techniques appeal, encourage them to get back to basics. Make sure that they have a to-do list. Ask them to prioritise their tasks in order of importance and then time-block their work (more on this later).
These alone can be the productivity hacks they never knew they needed.
4. Set SMART goals
Most people are aware of the importance of setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that is often used as one of the most high-value productivity hacks. The acronym helps to break down your core goals so that they are:
- Specific: The more specific your goals, the easier they will be to accomplish.
- Measurable: Your goals must be measurable so that you can determine your progress.
- Achievable: No goal will be met if the goals are not within reach.Â
- Relevant: The goal needs to matter and be worthwhile.
- Time-bound: Deadlines are a critical part of time management and allow team members to prioritise their workloads.
SMART is one of the more popular productivity hacks being used by brands of all sizes. They are easy to implement and can be used across teams without the need for any high-tech tools.
5. Allow team members to recharge between tasks
When you concentrate on a task, it can wear you out. If you focus on producing some solid work for a few hours, your brain can even end up feeling fuzzy! So, give your team members time to recharge once in a while.
If you give them a short break between tasks, youâ€™ll help them think more clearly, boosting productivity.Â
Allow them to meditate, exercise, or even take a nap in between their most important tasks. They will only thank you.
6. Give one task at a time
It used to be that the most important buzzword in the office was â€˜multitaskingâ€™. The problem is that multitasking has been repeatedly proven to be an ineffective way of working. When your team members try to do ten tasks at once, none of them will be done well. Even trying to do two tasks at once will dramatically slow them down.Â
Instead, give them one task at a time. If you need to assign multiple tasks, set different deadlines for each of them. You wouldnâ€™t want your team members to try to do all those things simultaneously just to meet the deadline. Theyâ€™ll only end up with sloppy work.
Make sure that your team is not trying to (or forced to) try and multitask. Laser-focus is one of the most effective productivity hacks.
7. Encourage team members to organise tasks
Urge the members of your team to create a to-do list and focus on it. Give them tips on how to organise those tasks in the right way. Ideally, they want the biggest and most important tasks at the top of their list.Â
Team members will most likely put the fastest and easiest tasks at the top of their to-do lists. Tell them that that strategy, however, doesnâ€™t pay off. By avoiding the more challenging tasks, anxiety can develop, and procrastination can start to build up. Make sure your team members tackle those bigger jobs first. That way, they will get:
- Satisfaction of completing the most challenging tasks earlier
- The chance to learn new things throughout the more demanding tasks
If they get a large task out of the way first thing in the morning, it means they have momentum that will then carry them onto the next task. You can encourage them to use tools like Google Task to help them create their to-do list.Â
8. Have shorter, more targeted meetings
Weâ€™ve mentioned â€˜No-Meetingâ€™ days as a way of avoiding distractions. That doesnâ€™t mean you should avoid having them altogether.Â
Unfortunately, business meetings are crucial for efficient management. The key is to make them shorter and more targeted so your team wastes less time and everyone present in the meeting can benefit from it. That said, make sure you:
- Have a specific and established goal for every meeting. Ensure that all discussion is focused on that goal and there are no off-topic discussions.
- Make sure that only the necessary people are present at each meeting. Every unnecessary person is someone not being productive, and they can slow your meetings down, too. Use meeting request emails to ensure that only the necessary people are present.
- Remember that a business meeting is there to solve issues and clarify goals. Donâ€™t allow them to become a lecture format that isnâ€™t two-way.
- Keep all of your meetings scheduled for the end of the day. Teams are always more productive in the morning. You donâ€™t want to interrupt that workflow. Schedule late afternoon meetings, and you can be sure that they wonâ€™t go on too long.
There are plenty of productivity hacks available for meetings and lots of different types of meeting styles to experiment with.Â
9. Ensure ready access to information for the team
You have a team member who is efficiently and effectively working their way through their task list. Unfortunately, they have to stop working because they need information that they donâ€™t have access to. They then need to hunt down the person who can get them the information.Â
Not only is this a major distraction, but it can also lead to a build-up of workplace frustration. Information is power in the workplace, and your team needs access to all of the information they might feasibly need.Â
Every team member needs to know who is available to answer questions. There are apps like When I Work, Deputy, PlanDay, and UKG Ready that let your team members see immediately who is working and who is unavailable. Donâ€™t forget to consider every department. Contact centre efficiency is just as important as your marketing team.
To ensure people can work effectively and fast, you need to make relevant information accessible. For example, the marketing team will need access to budgetary information, style guides, and more. If they donâ€™t have this information, they need to stop working and bother other people. It wastes time.
Centralising the way you store information will make it easier for staff to access the data they need to do this work. Creating these types of centralised databases can take time, but it will ultimately save time in the long run.
10. Track your performance
Businesses can track a wide range of performance metrics. Tracking the productivity of a small team is easier than ever, but itâ€™s often overlooked. Tracking employee productivity doesnâ€™t have to mean the Big Brother, breathing-over-the-shoulders-of-your-workers kind of workplace.Â
Thanks to cutting-edge technology and more proactive business intelligence, you have plenty of options to consider. When it comes to productivity hacks, tracking the performance of your team can be incredibly useful. Youâ€™ll need to:
- Have two-way communications and a feedback culture
- Implement 360Â° feedback
- Use time tracking software
- Limit digital activities during work hours
- Use project management software
- Ignore quantity and measure task quality
- Use overall profits as a general measure of workplace productivity
Many small business owners focus on tracking the performance of their social media pages and their website. Tracking the performance of your team is just as (if not more) important.
11. Get on the cloud
Itâ€™s hard to talk about productivity hacks without at least mentioning the cloud. Cloud-based platforms, apps, software, and services are now indispensable when it comes to improving efficiency.Â
By integrating the cloud into your working methods, your team members can work from anywhere, whatever their role. When it comes to in-house and remote collaboration, the cloud is hard to beat. From documents and presentations to cloud-based website hosting and custom-made tools, the cloud is a technology that you canâ€™t afford to be without.
Time is the single most precious resource for a small business team. Thatâ€™s why high-impact productivity hacks are valuable. They help you maximise productivity and make your business stronger.
In this article, we looked at eleven productivity hacks. From allowing team members to recharge between tasks to getting on the cloud, these productivity hacks require a certain level of time investment and discipline.Â
The results may not always be immediately apparent. But if your team keeps using them, you’ll find that your team workflow speed increases, and your team is working harder. Your business is only growing as a result.
Originally published Aug 24, 2021, updated Jan 16, 2023