Small business owners are notoriously over-scheduled. If you find yourself wishing you had more time, you may need to improve the way you work to make better use of the time you have. Try these productivity-boosting tips, and see if you can get more accomplished in a day, andreduce stress in the process.

1. Start with Three

All of your tasks should be prioritized so you know where to start and what to do next.

To kick your day off even more productively, pick just the top three tasks that must be completed that day and focus on completing those before you even look at the rest of your list.

2. Use a Calendar for Everything

If you are someone who responds well to schedules and can accurately estimate how long a task will take you, try scheduling specific tasks during specific time slots on your calendar. Getting pinged when it’s time to work on new tasks can help you shift your focus successfully and make sure everything on your list is getting your attention at some point during the day.

3. Wake Up Earlier

This will not be a popular option for many, but there is no denying that the solitude of early-morning hours can do wonders for your productivity. You don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night, but setting the alarm clock for an hour or even a half hour earlier can give you some time to get focused and prepare for the day ahead. Even if you just use the time to get a handle on your email inbox while sipping a cup of coffee, it is time well spent.

4. Develop and Use a System

Having a system for managing your to-do’s is often a huge part of the productivity puzzle. What does it take for you to process email messages, requests, and ongoing tasks, sort by priority, and keep track of everything on an ongoing basis? This is what will drive the task and time management system you use and help you hold yourself accountable.

5. Get Off Facebook (and Away from Other Distractions)

There are always things that pop up in front of you during the day, and the next thing you know, you’ve lost 45 minutes wasting time. You need to know where your weaknesses are and be able to limit them. It could be Facebook, Twitter, online games, television, or phone calls. Know what triggers “time-wasting” mode for you, and save those activities for after you’ve accomplished your first three big priorities for the day. And make sure you set a time limit.

6. Take a Breather

While it may sound counter-productive, taking a break from your work can actually be a great way to restart your productivity. Go for a walk, read a book, or just enjoy doing nothing for a little while to find new motivation. When you get back to work, you may be surprised how much you accomplish after a mindless break in your day. Taking regular breaks is also a great way to make sure you avoid burnout.

Productivity is not only important because you can get more accomplished, but it also allows you to create a work-life balance that is essential for continued success. Take some time to consider how you can use your time more effectively, and you will find you have more of it to use outside of the office.

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