By Kathie Miles
As a small business owner, we’re pretty sure that you have an umpteen number of things lined up for every single work day. Alas, you only have a finite number of hours to complete all the tasks. This means you have to innovate and look for creative ways to achieve your tasks efficiently within the available time.
“Successful entrepreneurs don’t work harder. Instead, they work smarter.”
They realize that success of the business starts with them. They don’t wait for things to happen. Instead, they make things happen. And, how do they do it? Do they have super-human abilities to perform a hundred tasks at the same time? No! They ensure that they get the most out of everyone on the team. They do this by motivating and empowering employees with the right tools and practices.
In today’s post, we give you some smart tips to boost the productivity of your team and yourself, thereby growing your business exponentially.
1. Track the Time Your Employees Spend on Tasks
Make use of time tracking tools to track and limit the time your employees spend on various day-to-day tasks like email, social media, word processing and other apps. Once you begin tracking the time taken for each task, you can then better allocate your resources on different projects and tasks with the help of resource scheduling tools.
2. Encourage Your Employees to Take Regular, Small Breaks
While this may feel like counter-intuitive to improving productivity, studies show that small breaks are essential to improve concentration. When you take short breaks, it helps to maintain a constant level of performance during long tasks. On the other hand, working on a demanding task continuously without breaks leads to a gradual decline in performance.
3. Introduce the “Two-Minute” Rule
The “two-minute” rule was made famous by the bestselling book, Getting Things Done by David Allen. This rule states that if you see a task or an action that can be completed in less than two minutes, then you should get it done right away without procrastinating.
The idea behind this rule is that completing the task right away frees up mental space, and gives you the confidence to carry out bigger tasks. This may include a variety of tasks like responding to an email from a colleague, sending off a completed report to the boss, etc.
4. Ensure that All Meetings Have Clear Agendas
While meetings are integral to keeping your clients informed and your team on track, there’s no denying the fact that meetings are one of the biggest time-suckers in the average working day. According to an infographic by the Atlassian, the average office worker spends over thirty-one hours every month, attending unproductive meetings.
So, the next time, before you schedule a meeting with your employees, pause a moment and consider whether the same task can be accomplished via other methods like emails, phone calls or even Skype meetings.
If you have to conduct a meeting, try standing meetings. As the name implies, a standing meeting is where everyone remains standing, instead of being seated. This helps to increase productivity and avoid wasting time, as everyone has an urgency to wrap up the meeting as early as possible.
Another alternative is to schedule meeting-free days every week. This way, employees can be assured that they can work without any distraction on particular days, thereby completing tasks that they have fallen behind on.
5. Impose a Limit on Social Media and Mute Notifications During the Day
Even the most dedicated worker is sure to get distracted by the constant pings of email, text messages, voicemail, etc. During the work day, instruct your employees not to check emails and social media notifications constantly. Instead, they can check it once every two hours or so.
This way business emails and social media need not always steal the attention of your employees. They respond to business emails only during the scheduled times. This helps them to stay focused on other critical tasks the rest of the day.
Ensure that you have a no personal social media or emails allowed policy at work. Additionally, when employees are working on tasks that have a fast, approaching deadline, ask them to unplug completely. The online world has so many distractions that are potential time-suckers. Get your employees to go offline, complete critical tasks before they can get back into the grid.
6. Find the Right Collaboration Tool that Works for You
Today, most offices are no longer constricted to a physical space. Small businesses often have employees working from different corners of the planet. As a business owner or project manager, you must be able to communicate with the rest of your team quickly and in the most efficient way possible.
This means you need a system where everyone can update their progress on various projects. This helps you save a lot of time while ensuring that the entire team is on the same page. Also, resource management is handled way better, when you have the right collaboration tool.
7. Work on Improving the Ergonomics of Your Workspace
While it may seem minor, even adding something like a potted plant, a pretty picture or a motivational poster to your office can improve workplace productivity. This is why, industry giants like Google, Facebook, and Pixar, focus on providing their employees with a workspace where they can relax and unwind, all the while delivering their best.
Try to spruce up your workplace by letting in plenty of natural light, adding some flowers, scented candles, ergonomic chairs, and workstations. Anything to keep your employees motivated. Additionally, ensure that you stock healthy snacks at work. This helps to meet mid-day blues and post-lunch doldrums. Instead of coffee and other energy drinks, you can try green tea, smoothies, etc. Remember that happier and healthier your employees are, the more productive they will be.
8. Be Proactive and Not Reactive
This should be your mantra for tackling the working day. Taking a reactive approach to attending phone calls and responding to emails immediately helps you do an excellent job of putting out the fires, but fails to accomplish anything beyond that.
Instead, begin your day with a solid strategy (list of tasks to be completed in order), and do your best to stick to it. With the right tools and these tips, you can boost the productivity levels of your team in no time.
Photo credit: Watch face with productivity on it from Tashatuvango/Shutterstock