There are always going to be certain areas that need constant revisiting to keep improving productivity as your business grows. In a small business, employees have the responsibility of wearing multiple hats, which can make it easy to get distracted in the process of keeping it all together and not even realize the time being lost. This extra burden makes it even more important to ask yourself these questions.
When was the last time you audited your systems and work policies? Are the programs you’re using still the best solution for your company today? Are your employees feeling motivated after meetings?
These questions left unanswered will leave you behind your competition. Here are a few reminders of everyday productivity-killers and how to turn them around.
Poorly planned meetings
According to Atlassian, who has over 40,000 business customers, the average employee attends 2-3 meetings per day and spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings.
The study found that employees consider half of all meetings a waste of time.
A report by CEO.com showed that CEOs spend 37% of their time in meetings, but what amount of time is appropriate for most other employees? Some say short meetings that are under 15 minutes are the most productive.
While in person face-time has its necessary purpose, doing as much as you can before a meeting can be a major time-saver. Is a one-on-one phone call or conference call appropriate as a pre-meeting step?
Establishing an agenda that is targeted and focused on topics of consequence enables teams to conclude a meeting knowing next steps and motivated to move forward. The last thing you want is for your employees to feel like your meetings are a waste of time.Whether it’s an audio, visual, or in-person meeting, you should prepare an agenda with measurable goals and actionable initiatives to get the most out of everyone’s time.
Request that your staff members consider their questions in advance and for them to bring applicable back-up pertaining to the points they’d like to address. This will keep all parties focused on the subject matter and time allocations. It will also provide those heading up the meeting to determine if all can be accomplished in one meeting or whether a follow-up session might be in order.
Software applications — particularly the free ones — are prolific in today’s digital age marketplace. So picking and choosing the existing and ones that work for your business should be reviewed regularly. However, vetting them can be a chore as some are outdated as soon as they appear, while others have stood the the test of time.
Finding the apps that can integrate with your other services should be a part of your vetting process.
Instead of having employees juggle multiple apps, you can explore possible integrations between your different systems to get all the information you need in a single platform.
Zapier is one of those apps that helps with integrations. Through Zapier, you can interface with hundreds of other services (i.e. Gmail, Slack, Salesforce, Telzio) without the need to hire developers to implement the integration. With integrations, you can do things like automatically add PayPal customers’ emails to MailChimp lists, turn emails into notes, and send new voicemails as Slack notifications. Integrations automate your processes, eliminate extra steps for employees, and save time shuffling between apps.
Being stuck in the office
Some studies show that employees are more productive when working from home. Allowing an employee some remote work days can be effective for boosting productivity if it’s plausible for the role. One study showed that employees produced almost a full extra day’s worth of work in a week by working from home.
Tools like Slack, Zoom, and Telzio make it easy to set up a virtual agent desk with real time communication capabilities and integrated phone lines. And, these virtual communication tools are easy and instant to implement, so you can try them without breaking a sweat.
In a small business, employees have the responsibility of wearing multiple hats, which can make it easy to get distracted in the process of keeping it all together and not even realize the time being lost. There are some chores in our everyday work lives that distract us. Whether it’s catching the current political debates, sport scores or hobby interests, we are often distracted by our likes versus our needs. Even something as simple as reading our email might be a time waster if it conflicts with the the more important tasks at hand.
In these instances, you might need a ‘habit adjustment.’ To address, first identify the distractions that need to be altered. Similar to the field of medicine, your physician can’t prescribe the right medicine if you hasn’t identified what’s ailing you.
Once isolated, then set up a cause and effect behavioral pattern that will make the habit stick.
For example — if you are constantly distracted by wanting to catch the latest sport scores, schedule a time during the day to do just that. Then if you limit it to 15 minutes successfully, reward yourself with snack break, a glass of water or a few minutes to open the front door and breath in some fresh air. Be honest with yourself throughout the process, acknowledging what distractions hit you and when. At the end of the week, set aside time to evaluate how well you did and if you are sensing your new habit is taking hold— or still needs more work. After that, it’s just a matter of lather, rinse, repeat!
Not enough breaks
The key to productivity is keeping all things in balance. When you become aware of your stress levels peaking, it will do you more good stopping than pushing forward. This often requires taking a break, catching some fresh air, and even closing your laptop from time to time to take a short meditation break.
How you apply productive habits both in and outside the office is extremely important. By forming more efficient workplace habits, you and your team will be able to alleviate stress where it is least required — your home!
At home — it’s also extremely important to allow yourself ample rest times, 8 hours of sleep and recreation outside of work. This balance will allow you more clarity at work. Also consider teaching yourself a new hobby or investing in a special interest with your friends. With other outlets and a clear mind, you can gain greater insight into solving the productivity puzzle for your different teams.
Ron is a blogger at Telzio, covering business, technology, and mobile trends. Previously a Director of Advertising and Public Relations at Marriott International, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.