When talking to business owners and entrepreneurs, one of the most frequent issues that I hear about is working too many hours. People are spinning their wheels, spending so much time working on their businesses that they ultimately burn out. However, this is an easily fixable problem, as this burnout is mostly due to inefficient work time; just because you are working long hours doesn’t mean that you are being productive during those hours. So, here are a few ways to improve productivity in your own business:

(1) Plan, Plan and Plan!
I am always surprised to hear that there are so many business owners and entrepreneurs that don’t take a little time at the start of each day (or even each week!) to figure out what their plan of action should be. The key part of this plan is to prioritize the important tasks first, focusing on those money-generating tasks and pushing other non-essential tasks to the end of your list. A great productivity tip is to take that “dreaded” task, whatever it may be that you are tempted to put off, and complete it first. Getting it off of your plate can really put your mind at ease and increase your productivity for the rest of the day. The other key is to set designated times for completing each task and allow for breaks. You can even set a timer or alarm for each block of time, so that you can completely focus on the task at hand without having to worry about checking the clock. Planning, prioritizing and timing out your day’s tasks will really increase your productivity.

(2) Trim the Fat
So, now that you have your schedule planned out, it’s time to streamline it. Whatever tasks that you have determined to be “non-essential”, delegate them out. This will increase your productivity by freeing you up to focus on those tasks that only you can do. There is a tendency for business owners and entrepreneurs to believe that no one else can do any task as well as they do, so for basic tasks, take the time to set up easy to follow, detailed templates. This way, anyone can complete that task in the manner that you prefer. Even if you are doing the task yourself, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time- using that template yourself can really increase your productivity, too.

(3) Offer Incentives
Once your business time has been planned out and streamlined, an easy way to further improve productivity is to offer performance-based incentives for your employees (you can do this with yourself, too!). Most everyone gets extra motivation to perform better when there is a direct, tangible reward of sorts tied to it. For your employees, this can consist of monetary compensation when they achieve certain productivity milestones (extra money is always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser). Get creative with it; if money is tight, you can have performance-based contests and offer prizes that extend beyond money, depending on what your employees value. These can range from having extra break time, more scheduling flexibility or options for working from home or closer to home, just to name a few ideas. Using a reward like the option to work closer to home (companies like my client, Regus, offer convenient and flexible workspace solutions) can improve productivity in two ways by also reducing commute time. Reward yourself too- you’ll be surprised at how much more productive your business can be with incentives!

These are just a few ways that you can improve business productivity. What other tips do you have? Please share them below.

Thanks to Ryan Critchett of RMC Tech Laptop Repair, Elene Cafasso of Enerpace, Inc. Executive Coaching, Myles Miller of SuccessHQ, Rosanne Dausilio PhD of Human Technologies Global Inc, Susan Greene of Marketing Copywriter, Leonard Scott of Leonard Scott & Company, and Eula M. Guest, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.