By Sam Makad

If you’re in the process of starting your own business, you may find moments when you feel like there isn’t sufficient time in the day to get everything accomplished. To compound matters, for a small business owner, each minute that ticks by on the clock signifies dollars – either earned or wasted.

With a limited number of staff, small business owners and their employees are usually required to handle different daily responsibilities simply in order to complete their everyday list of tasks. Efficiency and productivity are the most common topics of conversation for small businesses for the simple reason that if you can understand their importance, your revenue will gradually increase. But reaching that level of efficiency and productivity can be difficult and time-consuming. Your small business is an intricate machine, consisting of employees and customers and everything in-between. So, how can you get the cogs and gears to move together in the right direction?

If you’re looking to stay ahead of your competitors, then you need to ditch common and outdated working practices in favor of technology that motivates employee productivity.  Here are 4 unique, but surefire, tips for doing just that:

1. Get a Head Start

Before leaving the office today, get a head start on tomorrow by planning things well in advance — it’ll save you lots of preparation time so you can start the next day by directly engaging in your high-priority tasks without much thought. Begin with the simple task of writing a to-do list to keep track of your daily work requirements. Once you start writing your prioritized to-do list and/or making your schedule for the next day, you’ll be better-prepared every day and ready for new business priorities and opportunities.

2. Use Cloud Technology to Work from Everywhere

There are many amazing tools that can be used in the office to boost productivity and save time during the workday. Nowadays, more small businesses are turning to cloud technology because of the large number of benefits associated with it. The use of ERP has also been ever-growing. ERP, an acronym for Enterprise Resource Planning, is a type of software for business process management that provides organizations with the flexibility to automate processes and integrate data for employees to use in collaboration to increase efficiencies. With a personalized ERP like SAP or Skyward ERP, employees can get easy access to all of the business’ most up-to-date information.

3. Update Office Communication

To further increase efficiency, start using instant messaging software like Skype for Business, Tagove or Slack in your workplace. It’ll allow your employees to send instant pings rather than having to leave their desks to find/converse with the other person. Using a work-friendly, instant messaging platform also allows employees to interact with one another without causing distraction to other, fellow employees. This tool also provides you with a person’s availability status – are they on the phone, in a meeting, out to lunch, working from home, etc.?

Obviously, when it comes to discussing major issues or large projects, face-to-face communication is probably the best option; however, for minor discussions, such instant messaging platforms work best as they save valuable time and allow you to get more work done without distraction and repeated interruptions. Small businesses can harness the power of communication to boost their overall productivity by simply providing workers with the right tools.

4. Get Lost

Learn to say “No”. Remember, you are not here to please everyone. Take time out for yourself. You should never work all weekend – try taking a couple of hours every day to unwind and refresh. Refrain from all distractions, just sit back, think, plan and write down the things that you want to accomplish. Losing yourself for a few hours will make you more productive, thus driving you closer to your goals. Additionally, you shouldn’t never sit and work a straight 9-to-5 day. It’s crucial to get up, walk around and take a mental break for a few minutes. Taking short breaks in-between your work schedule or before starting different projects will refresh and revive you, which helps you to become more productive in the long-term. Short breaks (and vacations) are proven methods used to assist the brain in functioning better.

In summary, improving team productivity is usually at the top of most small business owners’, managers’ and entrepreneurs’ to-do lists – and it should be! Small businesses go wrong by forcing everyone involved to “work longer and harder” in order to improve efficiency and productivity. This kind of thinking simply increases stress levels for everyone.  Instead, apply these unique tips – you’ll improve turnover, boost team satisfaction and reorganize the business processes without burning everyone out.  Remember, the goal should be to “work smarter.”

Sam Makad is a marketing consultant at Skyward ERP. He helps small and medium businesses to grow their ROI by providing innovative technology solutions. @sammakad.