Work Smart, Not Hard – 5 Ways to Increase Personal Productivity
We frequently post here about the importance of focusing on a healthy work/life balance and avoid the long hours – working late, missing family time, and wearing yourself out.
One key contributor to a healthy balance and remaining free from the “daily grind” is to work more effectively on a daily basis, and really focus on how you spend the hours that you are in the shop or the office.
You will be amazed at how many hours of wasted time you will save by incorporating these 5 things into your daily routine.
1. Control Your Time
If, at your shop, others can see, share, and request appointments using Outlook or Google Calendar, take control on your end by blocking off time throughout your day and week, only allowing meetings at certain times of the day, when it works best for you.
One of the areas you should block out time for is e-mail. Constantly monitoring your inbox and responding to every notification can kill momentum on projects, and can really contribute to how many hours you spend in the office. Schedule time at the beginning and end of the day to manage your inbox.
2. To-do List Triage
Now that you are controlling your calendar, get into the habit of controlling your daily list of tasks. Think of an ER department in a hospital when faced with a busy waiting room, and perform triage to determine the order of when and how cases will be handled.
Take on the most critical first, and it might just be a piece of a larger project, but prioritize it before everything else. If you don’t, it will be the thing you try to do before you go home for the day and the next thing you know, it’s 8:30pm and you’ve missed your kid’s soccer game.
Next, knock out the short-term, smaller tasks on your list. You will show progress more quickly and that will help clear you to work on more important tasks in the afternoon. Again, the goal here is to avoid getting into the late afternoon with remaining tasks that you are more likely to stay late to finish.
3. The 40-Minute Meeting
I think we’ve all been conditioned to schedule meetings on the hour and it becomes our default length of time to meet. So we schedule an hour meeting, knock out what we need to do and then spend 20-30 minutes chatting about the game last night, or where we’re going this weekend.
Try setting meetings for 40 minutes for the next 2 months, instead of an hour, and see how many hours you can rescue by staying on task and limiting meeting time to tasks at-hand.
4. Eliminate Distractions
One way to effectively use your time at work is to minimize distractions – these can come in many different forms.
Smartphones can be a great tool for communication and productivity, but they can be a huge distraction as well. If you must keep it with you at all times, use notification settings to limit buzzes, beeps, and rings that can bring all momentum to a halt while you check your phone for the latest fantasy football draft update. Sound familiar?
Internet / Social Media / News – It’s tough to avoid the influx and pervasiveness of media, news, and social media interaction, but it can also be a huge distraction. There’s plenty of time on weekends and evenings to catch up on the latest news, sports scores, and Twitter wars. Set a strong example for your team by limiting personal use of office and field computers with that type of activity.
E-newsletters – Managing your e-mail inbox can be tough enough, but wading through a sea of old newsletters that you no longer read or that provide no value to your business can make it a heavier task. Use a personal e-mail address for all non-business e-mail newsletter or promotional subscriptions and then take some time during your next lunch break or two to clean out your inbox, hitting the “unsubscribe” link on any newsletters or promotional offers that no longer apply to your business.
5. Embrace Technology, but Don’t Go Overboard
Business owners who don’t make the investment in technology for their companies can spend countless hours wrestling with tasks that can be automated easily using equipment and resources currently available.
Conversely, we see owners who have to purchase and implement every product or app on the market and then actually spend more time trouble-shooting their systems instead of building their business.
Look at investing in resources that make sense for your business and focus on those that will allow you and your team to work more efficiently. For example, invest in tablets or Smartphones for technicians, updated computers with Dual monitors for your office staff to work more effectively, as well as applications such as Quickbooks to increase efficiency.
Get up to speed on problematic programs. If you struggle with business programs that you use often enough, like Outlook, Excel, or perhaps Quickbooks, take the time to learn more about how to use these resources. The more comfortable you feel using these tools, the faster and more effective your work will become.
Any tips you can share? What are some ways you or your team work effectively? What are your challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.