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One of the busy work stations at Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings Ltd. in Cogswell Tower, Halifax, NS, March 11, 2009. (Paul Darrow)
One of the busy work stations at Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings Ltd. in Cogswell Tower, Halifax, NS, March 11, 2009. (Paul Darrow)

Start: Mark Evans

Tips and tricks to become ultra productive Add to ...

When you're a small business, it can be a challenge to get everything done. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day.

The key, particularly if you are a one-person operation, is to be as productive as possible. Given there only are so many hours that can or should be devoted to work, it is important to make sure everything that needs to be done actually gets accomplished.

What are the tricks to being ultra-productive? How can each working day be as fruitful and as prolific as possible? Here are a few tips from my productivity "tool box:"

Get an early start. Giving yourself an extra 30 to 60 minutes in the morning can make a huge difference. While we are living a 24/7 world, the early morning hours are still relatively quiet with few distractions. It can be a time to prepare yourself mentally and physically, eat breakfast, have a casual coffee, and think about what needs to be done during the day.

Create a to-do list. A list can consist of everything that has to be done, or it can be structured with the biggest priorities at the top. Think about what really needs to get done, and what could wait for another day.

Have a disciplined approach to e-mail. Checking your e-mail throughout the day can be a productivity killer. It takes you away from the task at hand, and it starts to eat up valuable minutes if you start reading e-mails that aren't a priority. To counter this temptation, establish specific times during the day to check e-mail.

Get organized, including having an environment that is conducive to work and getting things done. Trying to work in an office that is cluttered sends the wrong signals for anyone looking to be productive. At the end of each day, spend some time cleaning your workspace so it's ready for the next one.

Avoid the temptation of trying to be all things to all people. There can be times when you get multiple demands from people who want to meet for coffee, lunch or networking. While these meetings can lead to business, they can also eat up a lot of working hours, so be selective and focus on the meetings with the most potential.

Aim for quality over quantity. It's not about how many hours are worked but how much gets done during the hours that are worked. Being a workaholic probably means that either productivity is a problem, or that work is, unfortunately, a bigger priority than friends, family and personal interests. Having a healthy work-life balance will play a key role in making the time you do spend at work more productive.

For more productivity tips, check out this blog post: 13 Strategies to Jump-start Your Productivity.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting, a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

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