The biggest challenge for many franchisees is how to stay productive and make sure they’re achieving their goals. It’s not always clear how to self-motivate when you’re working for yourself, particularly if you’re stuck with tedious tasks that just have to be done. However, there are plenty of ways to boost productivity and power through as a franchisee.
Starting a franchise is an exciting venture, and you’re likely to have plenty of enthusiasm for even the dullest tasks when you start out. The key to succeeding as a franchisee or independent business owner is sustaining that enthusiasm and productivity throughout your journey. However, the question ‘how do I stay productive?’ doesn’t always have one simple answer.
Every franchisee is unique, meaning our productivity can be hampered by very different factors. Some people might struggle with internal obstacles, while others may find that the world outside of their business is demanding too much of their attention. Whatever your problem, this helpful list of tips for staying productive should offer a solution.
Analyse your obstacles
Before you change anything about your routine, try and work out exactly what is hampering your productivity. Make a conscious effort to note down what has distracted you every time your attention is pulled away from your work. If you do this for a few days, you’ll probably notice clear patterns in your behaviour and can take steps to properly address what is ruining your productivity.
Change your routine
9-5 can seem like the only way to work, but it doesn’t fit with every person’s lifestyle or personality. One of the best things about being a franchisee is that you’ll have a lot more freedom to choose your working hours, particularly when it comes to behind-the-scenes tasks. If you don’t feel very productive during your current working day, change things up. Early risers could try starting earlier, shifting to a 7-3 day instead, while night owls may prefer an 11-7 working window.
Lots of people find their working day is disrupted a time-wasting post-lunch slump. If that’s the case, break your day into smaller chunks. Try taking a big break in the middle to refocus your energy. Go to the gym, tackle some chores or even grab a coffee with a friend. When you return to work, you’ll probably have more energy and feel ready to focus again.
Even if your franchisor requires you to work set hours, you still have flexibility. There’s no reason why you can’t take calls and answer emails as you shop, dine or even catch up on your favourite show. And if you’re running a retail franchise or a restaurant franchise, you can employ staff to work the hours you’d prefer not to.
There’s no point forcing yourself into a working day that doesn’t work for you if you have the freedom to choose. Being more flexible about your hours will allow you to achieve the work/life balance you’ve always wanted. As long as you can be contacted during a good chunk of the ‘traditional’ working day, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t experiment with your schedule.
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Accept unavoidable distractions
Sometimes you just cannot get away from certain distractions and trying to ignore them will make you even less productive. A task that should only take an hour may take two or three if you’re not really focusing. Recognise when you have to step away from your work and build it into your routine. Collect the kids from school and spend quality time with them, then make up this hour or two during another part of the day or week. Can you answer emails or plan your day during the evening, as you watch TV? Could you use Saturday mornings as your dedicated ‘catch-up’ time?
It can be hard to adjust to, particularly if you’re working from home and feel as though you’re surrounded by distractions. However, you will learn how to adapt your working life around your home life in time. You might have to work strange hours to get everything in, but the satisfaction and financial rewards of being your own boss will quickly make it all worth it.
Work smarter, not harder
You’ve probably heard this expression before. Productivity isn’t about working from sunrise to sunset and never taking a break. It’s about using your working hours efficiently and squeezing every bit of potential out of them. Always feel like a certain task takes too long? Look for a way to automate it or develop a process that streamlines the task. For example, learning just a few relatively simple tricks on Excel can revolutionise your spreadsheet. Similarly, using a service like Quick Books or Xero for your accounting will make this task so much easier and quicker.
Your franchisor may have already developed software or processes that can help you get things done faster. Make sure you’re using every bit of help offered in your franchise package. It’s also worth speaking to fellow franchisees, as they’ve probably found shortcuts or easier ways to complete tasks over their years in business.
Keeping your frequently used resources somewhere you can easily find them will also help. Initial time spent setting up organised files and diaries, whether they’re digital or physical, will hugely benefit your productivity in the long run. Dedicating just half an hour a week to organisation is one of the biggest favours you can do for yourself. Whenever you need something, you won’t have to pull yourself away from a task to hunt it down and can stay in that productivity sweet spot.
If the main things hampering your productivity is that you have too much to do, hire employees. You’re likely to find that initially sacrificing profit in favour of an extra pair of hands will pay off, as you’ll have much more time to develop and grow your business. And if it’s just not feasible to recruit staff, be honest with yourself about your commitments. Do you need to focus on offering a quality service to fewer customers until you have the capacity to take on staff? Are you spending too much time on certain activities at the expense of other equally important aspects?
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Eat your frog
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.”
That’s what Mark Twain thought, anyway. The expression sounds crazy, but it essentially means you should get the most unpleasant task out of the way first. It’s tempting to start with the jobs we enjoy and leave the onerous ones until the end. However, if you spend the whole day thinking about a boring or difficult task, it can spoil even the fun bits of your work.
Start the day with a helping of frog and then move on to the tasks that are easy to digest. You could find that, without a constant sense of dread hanging over you, you’re much happier and more productive. It will take discipline and willpower to master this step, but it’s certainly a worthwhile one to practice.
Remind yourself of everything you love about being a franchisee, whether that’s working for yourself, having more time for family, working in an industry you’re passionate about or the financial rewards. Nobody likes every single thing about their job, so don’t get discouraged if there are tasks that you just can’t get excited about. Put your favourite music on and get them done, so you can get on with the rest of your day.
Mastering the art of productivity
Productivity is something that eludes all of us from time to time - even the business behemoths of this world waste some of their working week. Don’t beat yourself up or try and overcompensate if you have a day, or even a week, where you feel like you’re barely treading water. Focus on getting the most out of your working days and give yourself plenty of time to rest too.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to switch to a productive mindset and build your successful business in the long-term. If you’re looking for your next franchise opportunity, check out our UK franchise directory to discover loads of exciting options.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©