Productive Work Habits:
9 Ways to Work Smarter 

All business owners to really think about what constitutes productive work habits and how they can really get the best out of their team. Many fall into the trap of keeping their staff excessively busy (and stressed) just so they can feel like they're getting their money's worth. 

Business Coaching Insight:

Being busy is not necessarily the same as being productive. As Arianna Huffington said, "You're paying people for their judgement, not their stamina."

However, while seeing people slaving over their desks for several hours a day may make you feel things are getting achieved, you could be fooling yourself. 

Why? Because there is a limit to how productive anyone can be in a day and numerous studies have shown that people are more far more productive if they do less hours.

In other words, it's actually counter-productive when there's a culture of being a slave to your desk. 

How to create more productive work habits in your business

1. Learn to say no

This doesn't apply to everybody but to 'people-pleasers', learning to say no to people can literally be life-changing.  

Boundaries are important for productivity - that may mean letting people know when you are not to be interrupted, cutting people off on the phone when they start to talk too long, keeping meetings short etc. 

Once you've set these boundaries you also need to have the discipline to maintain them so other people don't distract you.  

2. Stop procrastinating

This was probably the single biggest productive work habit that transformed the way I work.

It was actually quite simple to do - one day I realized that procrastinating simply wasn't working for me and made me feel stressed, so I decided not to do it anymore. Simple as that. 

Now I take action on things immediately or else decide not to do them at all. It means being more ruthless (or realistic?) about what you take on but I noticed that this decision made me significantly more efficient and productive than other people around me.  

3. Get the distinction between being busy and being productive 

Being busy is not the same as being productive. You could waste hours on social media or emails but is it 'important' for your business and is it moving you forward? 

A lot of people fall into this trap. Some people wear 'busyness' like a badge of honour but what are you really achieving? 

4. Always under promise

I've seen many business owners fall into the trap of being so keen to impress customers that they've committed to deadlines or tasks that end up causing stress and problems that make the whole business less productive.  

Under-promising and over-delivering is always a much smarter way to operate. 

It gives you extra leeway in case something unexpected happens, it makes you look more effective and on tops of things. 

5. Take regular breaks

Holidays and down time are vital for your energy levels but more importantly, have obvious benefits for your business in terms of fresh ideas, better judgement and better decision making.  

Taking regular breaks should also be a daily habit, even if it's only for 5-10 minutes. 

6. Delegate 'drag me downs'

If the prospect of doing your book-keeping makes you feel as flat as a pancake, then that's a clue that you won't be very productive at this task.

Sometimes, being productive means recognizing when to delegate and when your time is best spent on other tasks. 

7. Get support

If there's an area of your business that you don't understand and or don't have good skills in, invest in a coach or recruit some help from someone else, rather than slogging through it yourself.

8. Be selective 

Entrepreneurs are always buzzing with new ideas but you don't necessarily have to act on all of them. As Richard Branson has said, 'Ideas are like buses, there will always be another one'.

It therefore pays to be disciplined and determine which ideas are worth your time and effort. 

9. Be accurate 

The more attention you put into doing accurate work in the first place the less time you are likely to waste on having to go back and fix mistakes. 

Business Coaching Questions:

  • What habits do you have that make you less effective than you could be at work?
  • What new standards and productive work habits could you adopt?
  • What stops you from being more productive?

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