How to Keep Your Productivity on Track for Success
Building a business can be an exciting time in your life. It can also be one of the most stressful and frustrating times for you. Any time that you start to do something – to move forward – things will crop up that stand in your way, threatening your success.
These conflicts can arise in many different areas – and they can affect the level of productivity that you have. Learn to recognize these obstacles and how you can successfully keep on track when they do appear.
The problems overlap between your personal and professional lives. For example, problems at work can cause hostility at home, and vice versa. You need to become a master at handling obstacles with ease.
Being overwhelmed can impact productivity
There are what seem to be a million tasks to get done every day in a business. You have to keep up with the day-to-day tasks while trying to juggle the new things that pop up.
Trying to grow your business while maintaining what you already have can quickly become overwhelming. This is why you need to have a schedule for when tasks need to be completed.
You can’t control when the unexpected happens, but by sticking to a schedule, you have a better chance at getting things done. If an obstacle arises that tanks a days’ worth of productivity, you need to map out a plan to double up on other days until you’re back on schedule.
You need a task list. Every single thing that you have to accomplish each day for your business should be on this list. Whatever impacts your business the most should be at the top of this list.
By doing this, you can prioritize the tasks in order of importance. The first few tasks on your list should be whatever it is that you have to get done in order to keep the business functioning.
You have to keep the business doors open and operational, keep the sales coming in and the payroll going, and keep the customers happy for positive word of mouth and steady growth.
Figure out what tasks you have to do that will profit or benefit your company today. If the task is something that will provide you with a profit in the same week, make that task a priority.
However, if it’s something that won’t make a difference immediately, you can put that off until a later date and time. Some business owners find it helpful to use one of the “year at a glance” calendars to keep track of the tasks that have to be done in the future for their business.
If you’re dealing with feeling overwhelmed, then it’s highly possible that you’ve taken on too much responsibility. In order to stay on track with productivity, you’ll need to find a way to delegate or outsource what can be passed on for someone else to do.
It can be easy in any business to take on too much. The shiny new object syndrome can make you feel a need to try something different in the hopes of improving your business.
Then before you know it, you have twenty different things going on that, instead of helping your business, is slowly grinding it to a halt. If any task manager or any organizational tool takes ou longer to actually use it than the benefit it offers, get rid of it.
This could be contributing to the obstacle of being overwhelmed. Simplify anything you can to keep productivity moving along when you’re struggling. That means if you spent money on a software tool that is too confusing to use and has a steep learning, stop using it.
Chalk it up to a lesson learned. If you have to simplify things by turning to a spiral notebook and a pen or pencil, then do that – if you find that you make more progress that way.
Some business owners find it helpful to seek a mentor when they’re feeling overwhelmed, while others turn the services of a coach to help them clearly see their goals and how things are fitting into their lives.
One of the biggest issues in a business that can trigger being overwhelmed to the point that it slows productivity is clutter. If you have a cluttered office or a cluttered system online, it can make it difficult for you to find what you need when you need it.
Keep everything organized as you go along to prevent this from being an obstacle. Sometimes that means letting go of projects you once thought were viable, but never have time for.
The obstacle of time management
Taking on too much at once can lead to a time crunch. So can procrastination. The problem in a lot of businesses is a lack of planning for every step of a project – especially if the project isn’t due right away.
It can be too easy to think that you have plenty of time, so you do other projects first (or, if we’re honest, waste time on social networking site). Then before you know it, you’re suddenly faced with this deadline or launch date – and you’re not sure that you’ll have enough time to get it done.
Everything that you need to take care of in your business should have an action plan. You should know every area of your business that has a completion date. One of the easiest ways to blow your reputation is by being the person who can’t get jobs completed when you say they’ll get done.
A simple way around the obstacle of time management issues that slow your productivity is to make sure that each project you have going on has a detailed list of action steps.
You don’t want to tackle a big project all at once. It can lead to you feeling overwhelmed. The best way to handle this is to break down the project into mini tasks.
Use a calendar or other means to divide the project up into chunks. If you have a project that you know is going to take three months to complete, then do a little bit of work on it each week.
This way, when the due date arrives, you can be finished up with plenty of time to have done the job thoroughly and professionally. Rushed jobs can often affect the quality of the finished product and you don’t want to present work that’s less than your best effort.
Outsource some work
To help with time management obstacles, you can outsource some of the work. Take the work that someone else can do that’s usually a big time drain and pass it off.
You can still get the work done, but free yourself up to do other tasks. If you’re in the business of supplying information products and you handle everything from the writing to the graphics to the formatting, you can easily hire someone else to run this area of your business.
If you put out a lot of information products, it might be worth your money to hire someone who keeps up with making sure the product is completed the way that it should be.
This way, you remove several tasks from your own to-do list. That would include sourcing freelance ghostwriters and graphics providers, evaluating deliverables, and getting the end product launched with JV and affiliate partners.
Many businesses have entire areas that they outsource to someone else. For example, many ad agencies take in too many client projects. So they turn around and hire freelance copywriters to write the ads.
This saves them time and money and allows them to be more productive. Focus on the skills you excel at and enjoy most – and find others to take over the tasks you least enjoy.
Other businesses allow an outside phone service like GabbyVille Inc. to take care of their incoming calls. This way, they can focus on running the business and still have good customer service.
You might hire a virtual assistant to handle your customer service issues online. It’s all about freeing you up for the most important money-making and personally gratifying tasks.
Cash flow problems
This obstacle is one that hits a lot of business at some point during their operation. Having financial struggles can be detrimental to the business itself and it can affect morale negatively, too.
Cash flow problems can be caused by the current economy, poor money management, not enough marketing, too much overhead and a lack of customer response for the product that you’re offering.
It can be difficult to want to keep on going when you’re facing cash flow obstacles. But what you have to do at this point is to remember what your dream was in the beginning.
Don’t lose focus during the hard times. So often, a business will go through a rough patch financially – only to turn around in the blink of an eye. Yet too many business owners get so discouraged when the cash isn’t flowing, that they slow productivity.
This slowed productivity then affects the overall business, which contributes to the cash flow problem. There are short-term and then there are long-term cash flow problems.
Short-term cash flow
Short-term cash flow problems can creep up on you suddenly – and sometimes without warning. For example, you could have a big customer account that brings in thousands of dollars a month and suddenly, the customer notifies you that he won’t be needing the services your company offers anymore.
So just like that, your profit is slashed. If the obstacle is a short-term cash flow, you can turn this around in a short amount of time by picking up some easy jobs that your company can do to bring in money.
The faster you can bring in the money, the quicker you’ll solve your cash flow problems. If you’re used to making $300 an hour consulting for businesses, cut your price by a percentage.
You could bring in several smaller companies or individuals who couldn’t afford your services at the higher rate. Running a special to give our business an injection of cash helps you survive during the next planning phase.
Long-term cash flow
Long-term cash flow problems are a bigger obstacle to keep your productivity on track with. When you have this kind of financial issue, it can lead to a lack of supplies, not having enough to pay yourself or your employees and struggles to pay your typical overhead expenses.
Usually, long-term cash flow obstacles do indicate that your business is headed that way before they become an issue. You might notice that invoices aren’t being paid on time.
If you allow other companies or individuals to pay you in arrears, several slow payers could hurt your business. If this is the case, then you would need to cut off the company having access to your services until the debt was settled.
Never risk your business’s viability over someone else’s lack of responsibility. Take care of the matter and if necessary, replace a slow or non paying client with someone who is reliable.
Every business will always have an area where there’s a money drain. Go over every section carefully to see where you can cut costs. If necessary, have a mentor look over your day-to-day business operations and make suggestions.
If you’re a start up business and cash flow is an obstacle because you don’t have any at all, then barter what services you do have to get what you need. It’s also a good idea to consider working on other cash-generating ideas like freelancing or an offline job if you need money to pursue your dreams.
Other influences can be productivity obstacles
Your friends and family can be your biggest supporters when you own a business. But they can also be obstacles. People who care about you can fail to understand and not respect your work schedule.
They can drop by to hang out at the office when you know you should be working. Or if your office is at home, they can interrupt you several times during the day.
When you have a business, setting boundaries to keep productivity flowing can be an issue. This is why you must set and keep clear-cut boundaries. You have to speak up whenever lines are crossed.
You must treat your business like a business and respect it – or others won’t either. Sometimes people who work in a similar field will show up unexpectedly to talk, and this can temporarily slow you down.
Other times, they come by so often that it becomes an issue. If this is a problem, you’ll have to take control – and it can be as simple as saying, “I’d love to chat, but I have a deadline, so I have to get back to work.”
Things get missed during a workday or a workweek. Mistakes are inevitable. Repeat mistakes and repeated issues of not completing assignments on time affect your business negatively, slow productivity and cost you in long-term profit.
Sometimes, it’s vendors that can slow your productivity. They don’t deliver a product when they’re supposed to, so that can slow down the time a shipment needs to go out or a launch needs to take place.
You can work through this by finding a replacement vendor. If someone makes a commitment to you to have something to you on a certain day by a certain time, that commitment should be kept – otherwise, your business is the one most affected.
Sometimes, in an effort to save money and offer goodwill, business owners hire family members or friends. Working with people that mean a lot to you can be a great opportunity.
Loved ones and friends working toward a common goal can often increase productivity. But if you have a family member or a friend who doesn’t do what they’re supposed to, that can be a problem.
In order to protect the family or friendship, you might not want to give that person a boot from the business. If that’s the case, move that person to an area where what they’re doing won’t impact the productivity.
Let them answer phones or handle email or do other tasks that help. But don’t be afraid to put your foot down if there’s nowhere else to put them. You’re in charge of turning your business into a success, and you need to adhere to your own responsibilities.
Overcoming a mindset that affects your business productivity
How you feel impacts how your business runs. If you’re experiencing something in your personal life, it can slow productivity. For example, if you’re dealing with a family situation that causes you to lose sleep at night, it can be hard to keep your mind on the tasks at hand the next day at work.
If you have to deal with something out of the office that impacts your productivity, you need to take a step back and let someone else handle what you normally take care of in the business.
It can be a problem if you don’t have a second in command who can run things for you. If that’s the case, then you have to find a way to clear your head and push through.
One of the ways that you can do this is by assigning a specific time to think about and work on problems that occur outside of the office. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of business.
Having the mindset that you’ve learned all there is to know can be a productivity obstacle. In this case, people will continue to do what they’ve always done – even if there’s a faster and less expensive way.
Not being teachable can easily cost you in terms of less productivity. Companies who produce tangible items or even strategies for you to learn from are counting on your ability to be open to growth through learning.
You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you turn a blind eye to opportunities that can help you be more productive just because you’re comfortable with the status quo.
Obstacles are a given in life. You have to strengthen your ability to handle them without panic. Once you learn the right way to navigate toward your goal, you’ll find that the once intimidating obstacles put in your path look less frightening over time.
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About the author: Sonia Colon is writer/publisher of My Fashion E-Mall Blog & The Biz Buzz of A Latina Mom Blog. She is also the owner at Books About Me. Sign up for the My Fashion E-Mall Blog newsletter and receive your FREE PDFs on successful email marketing.
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