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When it comes to being a small business owner, hard work is an understatement.  There are so many things to do.  Better yet, so many DIFFERENT things to do.  Owners often bounce between this and that, never having the same day twice. It is never boring, to say the least, but it can be confusing and inefficient.  Here are some tricks to make your days a bit more productive:

1. Put “bad” stuff out of reach – Essentially, everything that does not serve you, put it out of sight. Are you trying to eat and drink healthier while working?  Great!  Put the sodas and snack food in the refrigerator while keeping water and carrots on your desk.  Shut your office door so distractions stay out!  Regardless of if you work from home or an office, these apply to both.  And do not put a TV in your office.  Lastly, for the all-time favorite time waster – black holes on the internet.  Try using a software like StayFocusd (a plugin for all browsers) which will limit the amount of time you can spend on time wasting websites.

2. Prioritize and Maximize the most important tasks – Sit down and determine exactly what two or three things generate the most revenue for you or contribute to your success. These are the things you should spend the majority of your time working on.  The other items can come second.  Concentrate on what really matters, and that is having a business that not only helps your clients but also pays you.  A business not making you money will not stay in business long, so focus on the activities that increase success.

3. Get the hard things done first – Bite the bullet and get the things that are hard, detailed, or boring completed first thing in your work day. The caveat to this is, only if it is IMPORTANT.  If it is no longer fits your goals, take it off the to-do list.  But if it is still just as important as the day you put it on there – and you are only not completing it because of its difficulty – GET IT DONE FIRST!

4. Stop being a “Yes Man” – Many people say “yes” to requests because they want to be helpful or polite. The thing is, more often than not, those requests do not serve you and only serve the person asking.  Think of your value systems.  Then rank that request against your values on a scale of 1-10.  Try only saying “yes” when it feels like an 8, 9, or 10.   Otherwise politely and respectfully say “no.”  You will be amazed at how much more time and less stress you will see in your own life.

5. Take a recess from time to time – Business owners can be very much the standard workaholics. They work, then they work, and then they definitely work some more.  Stop working so much!  Notice, I did not say “stop working so hard”, I said “much.”  You need to work hard and you need to work hard every minute that you are working.  There is no doubt about this.  But, you need to take breaks.  For your mental health and spiritual health.  Take a 5 minute break every half hour or 10 minutes every hour.  The breaks you take should rejuvenate your mind, so do not take a break to do chores.  Take a walk, listen to an audiobook, or lay on the grass with your eyes closed.  Breathe fresh air, so you will be ready for the next block of hard work.

If it no longer fits your goals, take it off the to-do list.

6. Lump together 2-minute tasks – We all have those tasks that take a small amount of time, say 2-minutes or less. If it comes up while you are working on a larger project, write a note or keep a list or all those items.  Then take a 1 hour block during the day to pound each of those tiny to-dos out of the way.  Do not interrupt yourself from a greater/grander project for immaterial tasks.  The distraction time is not worth it.

7. Schedule time with your favorite people – You have people in your life that energize you and lift your spirits. Make time for those people.  Plan ahead and schedule evening dinners or weekend camping trips with those you love most.  By lifting yourself up and surrounding yourself with amazing companions, you will find how much more fun work can be!  And fun work often turns itself into more profitable work.

8. Use paper for remembering – Your mind is best at thinking! The human brain is amazing at figuring things out, solving problems, creating masterpieces.  Stop clogging up processing power by holding onto mental to-do lists.  Write that stuff down!  Create a system of note-taking, and set it up to remind you.  When you say to yourself “Oh hey, I should remember that,” put it into your note-taking system and go back to thinking.

9. Turn the alerts off! – Everything in our technological world dings and buzzes, grabbing our attention from every direction. Even if you tell yourself you will not look at your texts, each time it goes off your eyes still wander in that direction.  Turn off all notifications on your phone; sounds related to chat windows or email inboxes.  Of course, the curiosity will get to you eventually, so check all those items when you are at a good breaking point from your work.  Then ACTIVELY check your phone and email.

10. Finish your day with gratitude – There are many things to be thankful for, but as a small business owner I would argue you have more:  having the freedom to create and run your life as you see fit and being able to serve clients/customers with your individualism.  Spend even just 5 minutes writing in a journal or laying in bed with your eyes closed taking inventory of all the moments you were grateful for during the day.  It is not only a reminder to yourself why you do what you do but it is also a gentle nudge to the universe to provide you with more of those things.  Finish the day with love, so you may get more in return.