Running an online business on your own is tough—from managing supplies and inventory, taking orders, doing marketing, and just everything in between. When you decide to run a business, it’s practically a requirement to be more productive than you might at your office job.
Learning to be more productive can be tricky when you run a small business and have a million things up in the air. But it’s not impossible.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best productivity tips for entrepreneurs, based on what really works.
Do more in less time: 10 productivity tips for entrepreneurs
Ready to be more productive? Look no further than these 10 productivity tips absolutely any entrepreneur can use.
Carve out “sacred” time in the mornings
As a business owner, you need time to think at a higher level. This means thinking of new strategies and tactics to get your business to grow faster and more efficiently.
Because the truth is this: when you’re stuck in the day-to-day operations of your business, it’s hard to sit down and think through new ways to grow.
You might have a ton of things to take care of during the day, so that’s why we recommend setting aside a time in your morning to use as your “sacred” time.
This time is the moment to do your most important job as a business owner: strategize how to grow your business to greater heights.
Consider it as sacred as a ritual—you absolutely cannot miss it.
Why do this in the mornings?
The question has to be asked, though: does it have to be in the mornings? Our recommendation is yes.
Mornings are proven to be some of the most productive times for anyone, including night owls. Consider your mind and body like a car: you use up gas throughout the day, and at night when you sleep, you’re refueling.
Many studies suggest that human beings have a limited reserve of willpower. And it’s thought that that willpower goes down throughout the day. That’s what makes mornings a great candidate for this sacred time to strategize.
Some research has suggested we make the best decisions in the morning, about an hour to three hours after waking up and once you’ve shaken off the sleep inertia.
Because strategizing on new ways to grow your business can be a big decision, you’ll want to do this when you’re at your most alert.
Eat the frog
Our next productivity tip for online business owners is to eat the frog. Not literally, of course!
This productivity technique was coined by Brian Tracy, but the term itself was inspired by a quote of author Mark Twain who said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Tracy took the frog to mean your most difficult task of the day. So if you “eat the frog”—or do your most important, difficult task of the day first—then you’re more likely to get that done and succeed at your goals.
When you choose your “frog” for the day, consider which task you might be dreading doing, or the one you’re most likely to procrastinate on.
In your business, your frog might be taking product photos of that new collection. Or designing your next social media posts. Or researching a fresh batch of Instagram hashtags to get more reach.
We also shared in the previous section that our willpower is limited. If you leave your most important task to the end of the day, you might be all out of that willpower to get started and finish.
Use focus apps to block distractions
You know what can really kill your productivity as a business owner? Distractions.
When you’re constantly checking your notifications or watching just one more episode on Netflix, you’ll never really get things done.
Distractions also block your flow—a term coined by renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to mean “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it,” as he wrote in his bestselling book of the same name.
You can look at flow as a sign of productivity; of getting things down that “nothing else seems to matter”. And distractions are something that break your flow.
And if you’re often distracted by things like notifications, then it might not be your fault. Notifications and other common distractions are designed to be disruptive—and in some cases, like endless pools of content and information like Instagram or YouTube, addictive.
Sometimes willpower alone can’t save you from distractions designed to be difficult to resist. So to help you out, use focus apps to get you into flow.
Create dedicated blocks of time to check emails and DMs
Jumping from our point about distractions, one mistake we see a lot of business owners make is thinking that checking their emails and direct messages is a productive use of their time.
We hate to break it to you, but that’s just another form of distraction, like we talked about above.
When you spend hours and hours checking your email and DMs, there’s a chance you won’t have the time to do other, more important work for your business.
We’re not saying, however, that you can never check emails and direct messages throughout the day. But what we are saying is that there is a more strategic way to tackle them.
Instead of checking every email and message as it comes, carve out a few blocks of time throughout the day to check and address these.
Here’s an example: you might have three blocks of time carved out for this—11:30AM-12NN, 3:00PM-3:30PM, and 5:30PM-6PM.
If you run a business that takes orders from people in messaging apps, then you might be thinking, “How can I stop checking my direct messages if that’s how people order?”
Should you risk missing out on sales? How can you be more productive at other parts of your business but not neglect order-taking?
This is where powerful ecommerce tools come in. With an ecommerce platform like Cococart, you never have to worry about missing a sale from the DMs again.
Because people are able to order from your shop straight away instead of waiting for you to reply via direct messages, you can make money faster and be able to work on the other parts of business that really move the needle.
Our next productivity tip for you online business owners out there is not to overschedule yourselves.
We know, we know. When you run a small business, this feels like a tall order.
But when you stick to a manageable schedule, you give yourself the room to work on every part of your business well.
The truth is you can’t do everything every day. So to keep yourself from burning out in your business, be sure to maintain a schedule that works for you and gives you time to breathe, reassess, and enjoy life outside your business.
Implement the 1-3-5 method
We love this productivity tip for you online business owners because it’s a way to prioritize and implement our previous tip above about not over-scheduling: the 1-3-5 method.
This method suggests that you only really have time to do one big task, three medium tasks, and five small tasks in a day.
Think about it: that’s under 10 things to focus on per day.
And if you’re thinking, “I have to do a thousand things in my business. I can’t possibly think of less than 10 things,” then that’s the beauty of this productivity tip.
When you force yourself to prioritize and only work on things according to this method, you’ll be more likely to make progress or complete tasks.
To get started, every night before your next work day, jot down the following:
- The one major task you must complete. (Psst! Remember our eat the frog method?)
- Three medium-sized tasks you want to complete. These could be anything that takes about 30 minutes to an hour each.
- Finally, five small tasks you could do. These are tiny tasks like errands, favors, or to-dos that seem to always get away from you. Be sure they’re not as big as your one major task, though!
Batch your tasks
One thing is a constant as an online business owner: you have a ton of different things to do every single week. What do you do if you want to be able to tackle each one without losing your marbles?
Here’s a great productivity tip: task batching!
Task batching is an exercise you can use to group related or the same tasks together, then do only that task for a period of time—say, designing social media posts for two hours, or reaching out to potential partners for 30 minutes, or packing orders for an hour.
The beauty of task batching is that it helps you create momentum. When you get started on a task, say filming Reels of your new product collection, it’s easier to move on from one thing to the next because they’re essentially the same.
Apply this to any repeatable task in your business, from marketing to sales calls.
Use time tracking software to see where you spend your hours
Here’s a productivity tip you might really want to try in your business: time tracking.
If you’re struggling to stay on top of deadlines or haven’t nailed down the art of prioritizing just yet, time tracking can give you a peek into how long it takes you to do certain tasks.
You might be surprised at how many hours it actually takes you to pack orders, or create new products, for example. Or you might discover that you spend way too much time browsing the internet.
There are several personal time tracking tools that can help you. Our favorite here at Cococart is Timery for Toggl.
If you want to go the manual route, you can always review how you spent your time each day and jot this down in a notebook every hour.
Use theme days each week
Here’s a cool productivity technique to try that combines a lot of the tips we’ve shared so far. Try to create “theme days” every week.
This is especially helpful for the busy business owner that can only focus on a few things each day. If your business is something you’re working on as a side hustle for now, you’re probably pressed for time as is.
So here’s how theme days work.
Commit each day of the week to a specific theme or goal in your business. For example, your Mondays might be Marketing Day, where you spend most of your time doing marketing materials to promote your store.
Tuesdays, you might commit to Rapid Growth. So take the day to focus on finding and reaching out to potential partners and collaborators for your business that can supercharge your growth.
The beauty of this productivity tip is that it leaves room for flexibility while making sure you cover the most important parts of your business that move the needle.
Unplug during breaks
Our final productivity tip for you busy online business owners? Take time to unplug during your breaks.
We know how easy it is to spend your breaks checking social media or email, but try to do something away from technology.
Take a walk outside your apartment, or read a book. Spend time with your loved ones, or meditate.
Time away from your business is one of the best ways to keep your motivation and productivity high. Rest is crucial to stay productive, so make regular breaks part of your daily routine—not just when you start to need it.
How will you stay productive in your business?
Staying productive as a business owner is a must, but remember that productivity is personal. It might take some time before you find what works best for you. Try out all the tips mentioned above, and adapt where needed.
And if you run an online business and want to spend less time in the DMs dealing with customers, sign up for a free account at Cococart, the simplest and most beautiful way to take your business online in seconds.
What is the ultimate productivity hack?
Say no to the right things. The key to being productive is staying focused on what matters.
Examine the different tasks in your business and rank them in terms of priority. Chances are, lots of different tasks will be shouting for your attention but you want to focus on tasks that help you move the needle.
Tips on starting a home-based business
Thinking of starting your home-based business but don't know where to begin? If you're based in Singapore, the first thing you'll need to check is whether your business idea meets URA requirements.
All good? Next, you'll want to register your business on ACRA and set up your home office.
If you're thinking of starting a food business, you'll also need to go through a food safety course with SFA.
Read this guide to find out everything you need to know about starting a home-based business in Singapore.
Can I start a side business if I have a full time job?
That depends on your contract with your employer. If you employer has no issues with this, you can consider starting a side business that you can run on your mobile device.
You'll be able to run your business on the go, even if you have other commitments to attend to. Read this guide to find out how you can run a small business on your smartphone.