Get All Access for $5/mo

9 Practices at Home and Work That Increase Productivity Increasing productivity has less to do with working longer hours than staying more focused and inspiring your team.

By John Rampton Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Both salaried workers and entrepreneurs need to know what tools to use to become more productive at work. This is especially important for new startups, where the margin for error is not generous.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the fourth quarter of 2014 nonfarm business output increased by 3.2 percent and hours worked increased by 5.1 percent but productivity decreased by 1.8 percent. This is a disturbing trend for any business to deal with. The following business practices can help turn that decline around for your company:

1. Focus on creating value at work.

Can you identify one habit, one action that you do on a daily basis that is detracting from your productivity, and then remove it? When you do that, you're headed in the right direction for increased productivity. And replace it with something that has value -- such as humor. Studies show that humor can actually increase workplace productivity.

2. Beware the afternoon doldrums.

You can do this while avoiding chugging so-called energy drinks, which are mostly sugar and caffeine. Try an alternative energy booster, like green tea.

3. Say 'no' to distractions.

Mobile apps offer a tempting opportunity to tune out of your mundane work tasks and tune into an exciting game of killing zombies, or an attempt to balance your checking account. Promise yourself a reward of 30 minutes of zombie killing after work, if you get a certain project completed -- and save your online banking duties until you can sit down to a nice meal after on your way home from work.

Related: Eliminate These 8 Distractions That Are Killing Your Productivity

4. Good food and aduquate sleep.

Small business operators pull long hours. They snack when they should eat a good meal, and they miss an inordinate amount of sleep. Michael Cullinan, director at Rapid Finance says "I help bad credit customers attain car loans for more than 14 hours every day. Sometimes with little more than a snack to keep me energized."

The result? Success, sometimes, but often poor health, too. Productivity is all about working steadily at a goal, and not about burning out with a visit to the hospital thrown in. Break your goals into small, bite-sized chunks of work that can be done in less than an hour. Take mini-breaks in between, doing healthy things like deep breathing or snacking on celery or some radishes.

5. Start your day the night before.

Lay out your work clothes, plug in the Coffee-Matic, check tomorrow's weather forecast and traffic forecast. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol after 6 p.m. Go to bed early. Sound like you're in training for something? You're in training, for the sport of productivity. You can break training for the weekends and holidays.

Related: 5 Things To Do Before Bed That Will Jump Start Tomorrow

6. Schedule the end of the meeting.

One productivity idea is to cap your business meetings at just 15 minutes. Seem impossible? Try it and see. Or you could hold all your meetings standing up -- that might have the same result!

7. Seize the morning.

Early to bed and early to rise was one of the habits that made Benjamin Franklin so productive during his long life. The early morning hours are the least distracted hours in the day. Set your alarm for just 30 minutes earlier to test out the results for yourself.

Related: The Power of Mornings: Why Successful Entrepreneurs Get up Early

8. Don't be so reactive.

Time management is crucial to the success of every startup. Every email does not have to be answered right away. Every person who stops by your desk does not need to be allowed to eat up a half hour with idle chit-chat. Every voicemail does not need an immediate response. Focus on priorities instead of reacting to every immediate stimuli.

9. Take a sincere interest in your team.

As an entrepreneur, you should know that your employees will never be happy, or very productive, if they worry excessively about tying productivity directly to compensation. The gap will continue to widen. Work with them to create ways to make their work a source of pride and pleasure. Awards and bonuses are nice, but it's even better to take a personal interest in all your employees, from janitor to VP. When they know you care about them as a person, their productivity will increase.

Enhancing team productivity is often at the top of the to-do list of many managers, owners and entrepreneurs. And it should be. Where you can go wrong is putting the pressure on the teams themselves to "work harder" in order to boost efficiency and productivity. Use these 10 tips to increase team satisfaction, reduce turnover and streamline business processes without burning everyone out.

Related: 8 Business Practices That Increase Productivity

John Rampton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Entrepreneur and Connector

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the calendar productivity tool Calendar.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Starting a Business

I Left the Corporate World to Start a Chicken Coop Business — Here Are 3 Valuable Lessons I Learned Along the Way

Board meetings were traded for barnyards as a thriving new venture hatched.

Business News

'Passing By Wide Margins': Elon Musk Celebrates His 'Guaranteed Win' of the Highest Pay Package in U.S. Corporate History

Musk's Tesla pay package is almost 140 times higher than the annual pay of other high-performing CEOs.

Business News

Joey Chestnut Is Going From Nathan's to Netflix for a Competition 15 Years in the Making

Chestnut was banned from this year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest due to a "rival" contract. Now, he'll compete in a Netflix special instead.


Are Your Business's Local Listings Accurate and Up-to-Date? Here Are the Consequences You Could Face If Not.

Why accurate local listings are crucial for business success — and how to avoid the pitfalls of outdated information.

Money & Finance

Day Traders Often Ignore This One Topic At Their Peril

Boring things — like taxes — can sometimes be highly profitable.

Growing a Business

He Immigrated to the U.S. and Got a Job at McDonald's — Then His Aversion to Being 'Too Comfortable' Led to a Fast-Growing Company That's Hard to Miss

Voyo Popovic launched his moving and storage company in 2018 — and he's been innovating in the industry ever since.