Building productive work habits

Anthony Caruana
23 June, 2015
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How do you plan your work day? It’s a challenge many SMEs face in order to strike the balance between meeting their clients’ needs and their other business obligations. It’s the old ‘working in the business and working on the business’ conundrum.

Some data published by cloud accounting software provider Xero suggests its customers follow some interesting work habits.

Its data suggests businesses are doing bank reconciliations at three times the average rate first thing in the morning, at about 7.15am after starting the day before 6am. In other words, they’re fitting in the ‘on the business’ work.

In my own business (although I’m the editor of Macworld Australia I run my own business) I tend to do my administrative work like invoicing, following up payments, bank reconciliations, BAS and I need a break from more intense tasks or on a Friday afternoon when my brain is fried.

My own research and timekeeping suggests I need to devote about 20 percent of my time to non-earning tasks in order to keep things ticking along. While I don’t set aside a full day each week for non-client tasks, I do spend that amount of time answering email, making calls and carrying out the pile of administrative tasks.

Perhaps the most significant addition to becoming more productive has been adding automation to as many tasks as possible.

For example, Xero’s customers (and those of all the other cloud accounting systems out there) have automated processes for sending statements, conducting bank reconciliations and processing repeating transactions. Use as many of those as practicable.

I’ve also gone paperless as much as possible. I scan all incoming paper, send everything electronically where I can and file everything using Evernote. I settled on Evernote, paying for a Premium account, so all my scans are easily searched through Evernote’s OCR, which makes all the scanned text into plain text.

Decluttering my desk is also important. When I sit at my desk in the morning it helps to have a clear workspace. It reduces distractions and helps get me into my creative zone quickly.

So, what do you do to increase your productivity? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments.

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