Do you ever feel like your business isn’t as productive as it could be? How many hours a day do your employees waste chatting on Skype, searching through email threads or working on unnecessary tasks?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn your business into a productivity machine? Work smarter, leaner and faster than the competition, while providing improved customer service and a more enjoyable working environment? Well, maybe you can! Check out these top ten methods to boost business productivity:
- Use Project Management Software
There’s a veritable plague of online project management software out there these days offering free or reasonably priced packages. You could try checking out Slack, Asana, Basecamp, or Trello, and decide which one works best for your business. Whether you’re running a one-man (or woman) show, or have multiple teams working on multiple projects; the aim with these software is to promote efficient communication.
Slack allows you to escape from an overflowing inbox and eradicate unnecessary table tennis with your emails. Why write back and forth, back and forth, when you can drop a note on an allocated project that everyone can see? If privacy is an issue, then you can adjust team member’s settings so that they only have access to the projects and information they need. Better than that? Get Asana or Slack app on your mobile phone and never miss an update or deadline again.
- Automate as Many Manual Tasks as Possible
If you have your social media team responding individually to new followers, or taking care of every phone call, it may be in your best interests to automate. Any task that applies to your business that takes a lot of manual time should be automated. Set up direct messages in Twitter to thank your new followers or provide them with an offer.
Get an automated system to pick up your phone calls. Stop writing down patients’ details by hand or trying to remember things in your brain that could be done faster and better through automation.
- Limit Distractions
Ever heard about the seagull manager? The one who swoops in, sh**s all over everything and then swoops out again? Don’t be a seagull manager. Don’t be your employees’ greatest distraction. You can limit your teammates bantering and unnecessary chatting on skype, but if you’re the one who breaks the rules and approaches them when they’re in the middle of something, you could be blocking their productivity. From your programmers to your writers, some employees need quiet and concentration to produce their best work.
- Single Tasking is The Way Forward
For years, companies have been looking for candidates who are great multitaskers. But you know what? Multitasking is overrated. Having a hundred tabs open at the same time doesn’t make you blitz through your tasks faster. Focusing on the job in hand before you get to the next is not only healthier for your body and mind, but also better for your productivity. Not only will it increase concentration and focus, but you’ll be less likely to make mistakes or stress about the other 500 tasks you have left unfinished.
- Manage Your Social Media
Try managing your social media accounts from one place by using a platform like Hootsuite. Instead of manually updating your social media messages, you can update all networks from one robust platform. Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive platforms there is and covers around 35 social media platforms, beyond your traditional LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Allow your social media managers to stay productive by cutting down the manual work.
- Respect the System
Once you’ve decided to use Asana, Slack or any other project management software to organize your company, make sure you stick to the system. Once you start to ignore protocol, the rest of your employees will soon follow suit. So, if you have established processes and ways of doing things, make sure that you follow them. Not only will you speed up your projects but you’ll also avoid confusion and stop getting everyone chasing their tails.
- Define Roles Clearly
There’s no better way of getting nothing done than to ask everybody to do the same thing. You may want your employees to learn new things. It’s great that they can be versatile and move up into roles that they weren’t originally hired for. But if you constantly blur the boundaries of people’s roles and ask everyone to work on the same task, eventually no one does it. Why? Because everything thinks someone else is doing it. When you define roles clearly, you make people accountable for their actions. And when you make people accountable for their actions, just watch your productivity soar.
- Hold Short Daily Meetings
This can be hard if you have teams working globally and on different time zones, but try to make a practice of doing this with the employees that you have closest to you. Better yet, get your supervisors to arrange a short meeting every day.
The meeting should be no longer than 10 minutes and cover everything that your team is working on, any questions or doubts or issues that may arise during the day. This will get everyone focused on the task in hand and cut down on the amount of questions and distractions later on.
How many times have you looked at your new website design and then sent it around the company for second opinions? What did that look like? A lot of going back and forth, slowing down the design project, I bet.
Try using a collaborative design program like Invision that helps your designers and UX managers collect everyone’s comments in the same place and at the same time. Rather than randomly and conflictingly.
- Don’t Over-Work Your Employees
Knowing when to stop and take a break is essential to your productivity. If you’re pushing your employees towards burnout, your overall productivity as a business will decrease. So, make sure that everyone takes their lunch, uses their vacation, and comes back with their creative juices flowing and desire to work at a high.
About the Author: Christina Comben is a freelance copywriter and Content Manager at translation and localization services provider, Day Translations. She specializes in B2B website content, marketing materials, article writing, content optimization and blogging. Multilingual and qualified to MBA level, Christina has produced investor guides and economic reports in developing countries for Spanish newspaper ABC. You can connect with Christina via her website, through Twitter (@christinacomben), or LinkedIn.