How to be more efficient
Everyone wants to run an efficient business — there’s a whole industry of books and seminars that’s grown up around the subject. But a lot of the tips out there are designed for bigger businesses, and don’t really address the concerns of smaller ones. That’s why we thought we’d go back to basics and give you our top five tips for working efficiently as a sole trader or in a small business.
1. Don’t reinvent the wheel
If there’s something that you do over and over again, make it into a system. This is one of the easiest ways to increase your efficiency, but also one of the most overlooked, because it can feel cumbersome to create a system, or silly to make a checklist for a simple process.
It’s actually really valuable though. When you can systematise a process, you greatly reduce the chances of forgetting something or making a mistake, and you also save a lot of energy and focus to use on other projects.
2. Make it a habit
Likewise, if there’s something that you know you need to do over and over again, then try to make it a habit. This is especially true if it’s something that you don’t really like doing. For instance, if you hate doing sales work, then make it a habit by creating a trigger for it (such as a specific time of day, or the end of another project), and give yourself a reward afterwards.
Doing this creates a positive feedback loop in your brain, meaning that you’ll be much more likely to actually do it, and you don’t have to spend energy forcing yourself to do it — it will just become a habit.
3. Get help
Remember, you don’t have to do everything yourself, even if you work by yourself. It’s much better to outsource things that you’re not good at, take lots of time and energy, or you just hate doing to someone else who’s better suited for them. Software can be a lifesaver here too, especially if you’re not in a position to hire someone just yet. Clear Books’ accounting and payroll software is designed specifically to be simple and easy for non-accountants to use.
4. Do the hard stuff first thing in the morning
This is one of the oldest, but most effective tips for efficiency. The reason it works so well is that your willpower depletes as the day goes on, especially in situations where you have to make a lot of decisions (which is definitely the case if you’re running a business!) So save your lighter, less energy-consuming work for later in the day, and knock out the intensive stuff first thing.
5. Don’t multitask
Despite being very popular in the past couple of decades, multitasking is actually terrible for efficiency. Studies have shown that even people who think they’re more efficient when multitasking perform much worse than when they focus on one thing at a time.
To really up your efficiency, try batching tasks. For instance, if you put up a blog post every week, don’t write one post every week. Set aside a couple of hours at the beginning of the month and do all of your blog posts for that month in one go. This allows you to get really focused on what you’re doing, which helps you work faster and more efficiently.
Your turn: what are some of your best tips for efficiency? Tell us in the comments below!