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5 Productivity Hacks for Busy Restaurateurs That Really Work

Posted by Chris de Jong on 5/18/17 8:00 PM in Restaurant Management

6 minute read Print


You know it. Your vendors and suppliers know it. Your staff knows it. Your family / significant other / dog knows it. You’re busy.

Being a restaurant manager or owner/operator is an all-consuming job - one that requires juggling the many responsibilities and demands of your position.

So what’s the smart thing to do? Work harder to try and ensure nothing slips through the cracks? Nope.

While it’s tempting to believe that by working more you’ll get more done, it’s actually the opposite.

According to researchers at Stanford, there is a tipping point where you become ineffective at your job – usually after 50 hours per week. Many restaurant managers work well in excess of this 50-hour benchmark, which means the threat of inefficiency looms.

The Secret Path to Restaurant Productivity

Instead, the solution here is to work smarter, not harder. Becoming a more productive worker will help you accomplish more in the same amount of time you were working before. In fact, increased productivity leads to a 12% increase in happiness.

But be warned! If you think the answer to this dilemma is to “multitask” your way to better productivity, you’re in for a shock. Researchers at MIT have found multitasking actually reduces productivity by up to 40%. Instead, they suggest you find ways to refine the workflows and processes you already use to make them more productive for you.

To help you work smarter, happier, and more productively in your restaurant, here are five ideas and workflows to take your personal productivity to new heights.

1. Find and Destroy Your "Time Vampires"

One of the quickest ways to be more productive is to figure out how you spend your time and make adjustments to your day. This way, you can maximize where your time is spent.

The best way to do this is to grab a personal time-tracking app like Toggl or Harvest and track your work for a couple of weeks. If you are diligent at tracking your every task, interruption, and break, you will end up with a lot of interesting data to help you better shape your day.


For example, you might find that you are consistently more productive in the morning - even if you’ve never fancied yourself a morning person. Use this information to your advantage and structure your day so you tackle your biggest, most complex tasks in the morning. Or, you can use the information to identify your "time vampires:" the tasks, people, or events which consistently take you off-task and drag down your overall productivity.

2. Power Up Your Reminders With Location

Most restaurant managers have a list of reminders and to-dos as long as their arm. This means that - most of the time - putting something on a to-do list doesn’t necessarily mean that it will get to-done.

To cut down your to-do list and increase your chances of remembering all that you have to do, we recommend this productivity hack shared by our good friend and 7shifts client Matt over at Mercy Lounge in Nashville.

Years ago, Apple came out with a little-known additional to iOS devices known as "Location Aware Reminders." This powerful little feature notifies you of your to-dos when you attach them to a physical location. For example, if you set a reminder to call your supplier when you finish your shift, your phone will alert you the moment you clock-out for the day.

This is also great for setting reminders for things like when you head to the grocery store or remembering to pick up an undelivered package when you’re near the post office. These same features are also available to Android users too!

3. Time-Box Your Shifts

One of the biggest drains on personal productivity is getting torn away from a task you are trying in earnest to complete. Make sure you get the job done by implementing an “Eisenhower box.” Named after the 34th President, this is a framework developed by its namesake that forces you to evaluate whether a task is worth switching to.


(Image via Noisli)

For example, if your bar manager tells you that you need to do the inventory count, ask yourself, “is this something that is both urgent and important?” If not, don’t pull yourself away from what you are currently working on in order to tackle it. That said, the restaurant business is complex and there are many competing demands for your time. Rather than just saying “no” to people, consider implementing a system like Calendy; this allows folks to schedule time in your calendar (a vendor meeting, for example) without interrupting you.

4. Streamline Work with Templates & Automation

Are you the kind of restaurant manager that is constantly inundated with emails, phone calls, or texts from staff throughout the day? If so, you may want to create templates or scripts - these hacks reduce the amount of time it takes to compose a reply or answer a question over the phone.

In fact, if you are a Gmail user, you can create templates that automatically reply to emails on your behalf based on the subject, message, or sender. This can potentially free you up from loads of administrative work.

Another major headache for managers is employee scheduling. As employees drop shifts and update their availability, managers typically spend 4+ hours every week updating the schedule to make sure everyone and everything is accounted for. A simple solution is to look at a restaurant staff scheduling app like 7shifts, which allows you to manage all of your staff availability requests in one place and automatically update and send out that week’s schedule. Apps like these not only boost productivity, but also increase staff accountability; this means no more “I didn’t know I was scheduled!” excuses.

5. Make Your Environment Work for You, Not Against You

When it comes to being more productive, your health matters just as much as the systems you put in place.

A study conducted by Brigham Young University concluded that those who eat healthier are 25 percent more likely to have higher job performance. So if you own a pizzeria, it might be best not to get high on your own supply. 

And that’s just one example! Other studies have shown that increased exposure to natural light have a direct positive impact on your mood, energy, and productivity levels.

Want a quick productivity boost? Try swapping out the bulbs in your management office with “natural light” bulbs, opening a window to get some fresh air in (if you have a window, that is!), or spruce up your back office with a plant; studies have shown that even a couple of small plants can help boost productivity levels up to 15%.

The Effect of Productivity on Your Restaurant

Improving productivity can be one of the easiest ways to further your career in the restaurant industry, but it takes constant effort to reap the benefits.

Try these best practices to gain more control of your personal productivity. With all the time you will save working smarter, not harder the question becomes: how will be re-invest that time into your restaurant?


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Written by: Chris de Jong

Chris de Jong is the Marketing Lead for 7shifts, an employee scheduling app designed for restaurant based in beautiful Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He works with the rest of the 7shifts team to help their customers all over the world save time scheduling, reduce labor costs, and improve communication in their businesses.

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