Three Easy Ways to Increase Productivity in Your Business

When I opened my first business, I had no concept of time. I had just quit my job and I was in heaven, looking forward to a lifetime of doing what I loved.

All. Day. Long. (Stop laughing …)

And when I wasn’t doing what I loved for a living, I would simply do whatever else I wanted to do.

sundial420x420My fairy tale lasted about three weeks. That was when I realized there was more to running a business than doing what I loved to do.

It caught me quite by surprise. (Don’t laugh.)

One day, I looked around and realized that people were not going to come to my store because it was awesome, and I was awesome, and I sold awesome stuff.

I was going to have to figure out how to attract people into the store, and then I could do what I loved all day.

That was going to take time, which I didn’t have a lot of because I was busy doing what I loved all day long.

Fast forward to today. After 14 years in business, I’m not the “Productivity Queen,” but I’ve gotten pretty good at being productive in my particular business. Here are some of the things I do to maintain my productivity, and maybe some of them will work for you.

Don’t just do what seems right at the time

It takes a lot of time and energy to decide what to do, so you want to spend as little time as possible doing it.

Instead, decide what needs to be done regularly, and then systematize it. This way, you don’t spend energy thinking about doing anything. You just do it.

For example, if you publish your newsletter every Thursday at 2pm ET, you never have to spend time thinking about publishing your newsletter. You know your publication deadline, and you meet it. No wasting time each week wondering what day you’ll publish, or if you’ll publish, or what time you’ll publish, or if you published last week, or last month, or whatever. Invest the least amount of time and energy necessary to get it done. Do it, and then move on to the next thing.

Don’t argue with people about the price of your products and services

Someone walks up to your trade show booth and questions your wholesale prices.

Someone comes to your website and wants to pick a fight about your hourly consulting rate.

Someone joins, sees that your “Get Fit” program costs a few grand, and they take to Twitter to cry foul.

Once, someone told me in an email message that the fee for membership in the Indie Business Network was “highway robbery,” and that it was just a big fat “cash cow.”

For a minute, I was offended. Then I remembered that I didn’t have time to argue with her. She clearly did not want to have a conversation. She wanted to insult and upset me. I emailed her back, thanked her for having a look at what we offered, and told her that if she ever decided to have a second look, we’d be right here waiting. I was back to doing what I loved in the blink of an eye.

Don’t argue with people about your price.

Don’t play around with and on Facebook (and other social media)

Many small business owners spend entire too much time chatting it up on Facebook for no particular reason.

I suppose that, like me, you’ll spend some time socializing on social media. But when it comes to your business, each status update must feed somehow, directly or indirectly, to your business.

Find your customers. Meet your customers. Ask your customers questions. Answer your customers’ questions. Engage with your customers. Post ideas and links and pictures that your customers will enjoy and relate to.

But don’t play around with the business time you spend on social media.

Create certain times of the day and week when you will be present for your business on the different social media outlets you use. Enter the room at those times, to post specific things that engage your audience or share what you have to offer with them, and then leave.

Go and do something that more directly relates to your business, like make sales calls or create a new product or write the marketing copy for your next brochure, or teach yourself how to use free tools to make your own promotional graphics.

Get off of Facebook or whatever. Schedule your business time on Facebook and use that time for business. Make it a part of your system. As you do this, over time, you’ll find that your business will be easier to manage and you’ll have more time to do the things you love.

You’ll get more done.

You’ll be happier.

Your productivity quotient will soar … and so will your business.

What are some of your easy tips for increasing productivity?

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  • Peter Billingham

    Hi Donna – got to your post by via a tweet by @chrisbrogan – thanks so much for practical advice so relevant to me right now! Just decided to leave a job that I have loved for the last 7 years to set up on my own and your wisdom was so timely for me! The social media warnings are so important for me to heed. Thanks again – what 3 ket things do you think I should do to set my business off in the right direction?

    • Donna Maria Coles Johnson

      Congratulations on your exciting new leap to a new lifestyle! I remember when I left my job, and so I think my first piece of advice is to not be as surprised as I was that I was not able to just do the things I wanted to do all day long. You may be much more savvy than me in that area, but it was a big downfall for me at first. I really do think that the social thing is big. It’s easy to get sucked in, and once that happens, it’s hard to suck yourself out. Try to schedule as much as you can, leaving time aside for naturally occurring social that is more spontaneous. As your business grows, you can be more flexible, but in the beginning, as you are building your foundation, you may find that it’s beneficial to maintain a social media schedule so you get your feet firmly planted underneath you.

      So, what kind of business did you start? I’d love to know more! Thank you for stopping by and commenting and asking a question that was fun to answer.

      • Peter Billingham

        Hi Donna, thanks for the reply and information. I can easily see how true it is that you can get sucked into spending most of your time on social media, that’s a temptation for me! Also, as they say, the grass is not always greener! There are so many different aspects to running a business of your own and learning that process while an adventure will also at times, I’m sure, be frustrating and tiring. But as Helen Keller said, “life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all!”

        I have been involved in setting up non-profit organisations both in England and in the last seven years Kiev, Ukraine. Throughout my life I have seen a constant theme in coaching/mentoring and have decided that I now want to set out on my own in developing that area. I’m calling it my, “Jethro season” do you know the story of Moses and Jethro? I also want to develop a public speaking coaching and speech writing practice. With this I will be expanding my blog at and adding a podcast. My brand name is The Artful Speaker and I truly believe that public speaking is an art and skill that can be developed. Many business leaders and entrepreneurs that I meet quite often have excellent content, but lack the ability to eloquently communicate their passion. I believe that I can help entrepreneurs become better public speakers and public speakers become better entrepreneurs to build speaking businesses that are profitable and scalable.

        Thanks for the advice and look forward to connecting more with you in the future.

        Recently, I was at new media Expo and had the opportunity to have lunch with Chris which was fun and a total surprise. I am energised and inspired by the idea of becoming an #owner best wishes, Peter

        • Paul O’Mahony

          Peter – I posted that last question to you before I read what you say about meeting Chris in Vegas. Maybe when we meet you can help me? This year I’m using these 3 words to guide me thru the squalls & currents: Serve | No | Speak.
          So I’m practising the art of speaking to & with groups. Wish you were over hear :)

          • Peter Billingham

            Hi Paul, I would love the opportunity for us to meet, and I’m sure at some time it will happen. I love the idea of the three words and I can tell you now how important it is to Serve. Today is an interesting day as it is the last day that I will spend with the staff team in Kiev where I have been working for the last seven years and if there is one thing that has marked my leadership with the team here, it is Serve. To lead is to Serve. I see that leadership is an upside down pyramid with the leader at the bottom and those that they serve at the top. (Most times it is seen the other way around) I think it is interesting that as a sign of impact yesterday almost all 50 of the staff changed their profile pictures on Facebook to one of me! It was extremely humbling and I’m grateful for the opportunity I have had to Serve Them. If I can help you at all in any way with your speaking, even through the Internet, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    • Mitch Jackson

      Sounds exciting Peter. Keep us in the loop and good luck!

      • Peter Billingham

        Hi Mitch – sent you email.

    • Paul O’Mahony

      Peter – it’s great to hear your news. Wonder if the time in Vegas helped you cast off?

  • Mitch Jackson

    Not wasting time and making sure we all stay productive on the things we’re good at is key. Enjoyed the post very much Donna!

    I do think there’s a blur now when it comes to using social media. Scheduling a specific time to interact with probably result in forced artificial engagement and that’s just not going to really work on social. Social involvement and timing probably varies with occupation and profession so that aspect of business and relationship development is probably different for each of us.

    Great advice that I’ll be sharing!

    • Donna Maria Coles Johnson

      Thanks Mitch! You know, you have a point. I don’t advocate rigidity. It has helped me to maintain a schedule though — not an inflexible one — but one that allows me to set aside specific time to do the social outreach that I know has specific ROI and do the rest in a more casual way. There’s no right way for everyone I suppose, and it’s a challenge to set up what works for each individual. Glad you have found your balance. Thanks for sharing. It means a lot to me and to the whole Owner Team to have you here.

      • Mitch Jackson

        Sure do enjoy your work. Keep sharing the great tips and articles!

  • Renee Fishman

    Great article, Donna. I agree with everything you said and have had some of the same challenges. Another tip I would add is this: create a no-call zone. For me, I have learned I must have some time when I am not answering calls. To ensure that I can protect that time, I switch on the Do Not Disturb setting on my iphone. This way I don’t get interrupted by calls when I’m trying to focus on something else.

  • StacyRFirth

    Hi Donna- I have the same struggles with managing my time on social media. Great post!

  • Alexandria Trusov

    Love your “Don’t Argue” comment – I see WAY too many small business owners trying to justify + feeling guilty/questioning their pricing, often when it is too low to begin with!