Small business BIG growth®
Words by Dr. Lisa Ehrenfried, BIGthink! Specialist


Your goals are set, you are buzzing with motivation to get your business up and running, you are working hard to get there, but somehow you are still left with that feeling of not having enough hours in the day.


I know this feeling all too well, and realized over the years that there are some fool-proof ways I can boost my productivity while at work (1), that you might want to try too.

  • Take mindful breaks. Regularly take out 30 seconds to breathe deeply; eat your lunch away from your desk and really focus on what you are eating, what the food feels and tastes like (besides from being more relaxing, this will also allow you to feel full more quickly and to avoid over-eating); go for a walk in the nearest park, not just around the block: A study showed that we are 20% better in solving puzzles after a walk in nature rather than streets.
  • Free up your brain for what is important. Have a reliable to-do list system that works for you. Some swear by apps like “Wunderlist”; personally, I prefer a paper-based version, simply for the joy of crossing completed tasks out vigorously (if there is an app that allows this, let me know!)
  • Focus on effectiveness rather than efficiency. It is easy to do the wrong things quickly, so better focus on doing the right things. The good old “daily to-do-list” is a great way to schedule what needs to be done and focus on the most important tasks.
  • Avoid multi-tasking. Male or female, there is actually no such thing as successful multi-tasking, just switching quickly between tasks. A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology showed that the more energy our brain uses on switching between tasks, the less energy is available to resolve the tasks themselves, and we end up using more time overall. To implement this tip, schedule two email slots per day, or at least switch off email notifications, which are terribly disruptive. Closing all documents on your screen that you are not currently working on might also reduce the risk of being side-tracked.
  • If you are procrastinating sales calls: Set yourself a goal of at least 10 “NOs” a day. This will remove your fear of rejection and keeps you motivated, because you can now actually “celebrate” the turndowns. Sounds weird, but I tried it and it really works!
  • Regularly revise critically how you’re tracking, especially if you are working on your own/ managing your own business. Are there any time waster-traps that you tend to fall into? What can you do to resolve them? Don’t dwell on your short-comings, but go into solutions mode quickly! Ideally, talk to someone else for honest external feedback, tips and expert opinions, like a co-worker, friend, or BIGthink!-fellow.
  • …And while you’re at gathering feedback: maybe you are already very productive and actually criticising yourself unfairly? Change your perception! At the end of your work-day take 5 minutes to reflect on what you’ve achieved. Besides from making you feel good about yourself, you are also more likely to sleep well, and start into your next day well rested, and ready to be productive- once again!

There are also a lot of things you can do outside of work to improve your productivity, like healthy eating, enough sleep, regular exercise, meditation, balancing work and play…



Lisa is the the “ideas girl”- she loves learning new things and getting new ideas going, and has very successfully done so in a range of fields (patent, papers, policy, presentations). Lisa has a Masters in mechanical engineering from Munich and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Lisa is a member of the BIGthink! core team.


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