Are you looking to increase your productivity in your business? Here are 5 ways to increase your productivity and improve efficiency for your business success.
So – your business is flourishing. Life is getting busier and every minute of your day counts. You’ve got the right technology in place and working hard but business flow is clunky and nothing is working how it should. What happened?
You’ve become a victim of your own success. You’ve been concentrating on the big picture, and your building blocks – the foundations of your business, are lost and forgotten, inhibiting your ability to scale. This is something we see frequently and it’s easily fixed.
Let’s review 5 key areas of your business and identify what you need to have in place for a truly productive business.
1. Document Management
Ineffective document management can lead to extensive frustration and lost time. It’s really not the most fun or interesting topic to talk about but it’s integral to your personal and business productivity. Think about how long you spend looking for documents, trying to figure out the latest version when there’s multiple copies with random file names. Worse still – you can’t find the document you’re looking for and end up re-creating.
So what do we need to do to get it right?
• Ensure your filing structure is clear and logical.
• Structure like sub folders i.e. clients, in the same way each time to allow everyone in your team to seamlessly navigate and find what they’re looking for.
• Set guidelines for your filing structure so that all new folders and all sub folders are defined, replicated and ready to use.
• Develop document branding guidelines so every internal document has the same consistent formatting.
• Guidelines should include preferred font name & size for different header levels and paragraphs, preferred structure for footers and information to be included, colour codes to match logo fonts and position of logo (and if you have multiple logos – which one) on the page.
• Ensure that you use the styles feature in your document platform to make formatting quick and easy – if you’re not sure how this works, jump onto You Tube and view a quick tutorial. Invest 15 minutes in learning and you will gain that back for every document you create.
• Create naming guidelines and use version control when creating and updating your documents. This will allow you to easily locate the exact document and version you’re looking for as you have structure around the naming convention. Eg. Doc_name_yearmonthdatev1 = Proposal_ABCCo_20180831
• Create templates for frequently used documents such as proposals, client research, client meetings etc. Ensure you save the document file extension as a template (.dotx in Word) so that it opens as a new document each time. Share these templates across the business so that everyone has access.
• If your current system is a dogs breakfast, don’t waste time re-filing and re-sorting all your old documents – it will be a waste of time. Simply create a new and effective system, pull existing files into your new system as you need them and sustain your new filing habits.
2. Email Management
Email is one of the biggest time wasters there is in business. It’s old and inefficient technology that’s become ingrained in our lives and given us bad habits.
How can you be more effective with email? Develop a system that works for you:
Action immediately: Process the email and ‘Do’ (complete the task immediately), ‘delegate’ (delegate or outsource the task) or ’delete’ (delete or archive the email)
OR if that process doesn’t work for you
Create 3 folders: Read, Action and Waiting then process your inbox into these folders to work from.
Reduce the amount of email landing in your inbox:
• Use your business email for business – keep personal separate.
• Use the rules & filter features available to put certain emails directly into certain folders i.e. articles you want to read into a read later folder. These emails will by pass your in box, reduce the volume received and also your overwhelm.
• Use an email plug-in such as unroll.me to unsubscribe from unwanted emails and bulk action others.
Automate information flow:
• Research the plug-ins and add-ons available for your email platform (you really need Google Apps or Office 365).
• Install the plug-ins for your CRM & Project Software. This will allow you to automate data entry of new contacts/leads and create tasks and projects from within your email platform, eliminating manual input and human error.
• Use a text expander platform or canned responses / templates to define frequent communications and eliminate the need to create time and time again.
3. Technology Management
When it comes to technology business owners shudder – they don’t want to know about it, they just want it to work. The good news is, pretty much all technology nowadays is plug & play (or pay and play). If you use one of the main email & calendar platforms integration is simple and many of the cloud based platforms are designed to connect with just a few clicks.
Top tips to help you manage your technology
• Ensure your email, calendar and cloud file storage seamlessly update across your mobile and other devices.
• Ensure your data is backed up. Automate your daily back up. Set it up once and check it’s working. There is nothing worse than losing your data. It could cost your business time and money.
• Use a password manager like Last Pass or One Pass. This will save you a huge amount of time finding and re-setting passwords. Another benefit is that you can securely share passwords: I share log-ins with my offshore staff without them ever viewing the actual password. If the relationship ends, I can easily revoke access with one click.
4. Knowledge Share & Communication
Whether you’re working with a team of 20 or a team of 2, (or if you’re planning on developing a team around you), streamline knowledge share and clear communication is essential. You need your people to be able to find exactly what they need quickly and easily, and it needs to have context so it’s not mis-interpreted.
Are you equipping your team for success?
• Have you developed business guidelines for employees and contractors? Your guidelines will share information around what expectations of them, what they can expect from you, how you work with clients etc. Sharing this information allows everyone to be fully informed of the business values and principles and will contribute to the flow of your business and overall productivity.
• Do you have a resource centre (maybe an intranet) that houses your internal policies and guidelines? Is there a location where staff can find information about internal business policies, resource documents and internal guidelines?
• How do you share updates about business goals, wins and losses? Having your team on the same page, working towards common goals massively increases overall business productivity.
Tools to communicate internally:
• Chat and Messenger platforms facilitate quick conversations. You may choose to use something you’ve already got in place like Skype or Google Chat.
• Slack or similar platforms allow conversation channels specific to topics/projects, and have search capability for easy information retrieval.
• Your project platform may also have message or conversation capability – this can be great for specific conversations around particular tasks/projects, as there is immediate context to the conversation and application of information.
5. Personal Productivity
There are hundreds of books and thousands of articles on this subject. It’s important to remember that not everything works for everybody. You need to find the tips and hacks that fit with your style of working. Here’s a couple that work for many.
Match your energy to task
• Map your energy levels throughout the day and identify when is best for you to complete certain tasks.
• When energy is high focus on tasks that require creative and strategic thinking.
• When energy levels decrease focus on tasks that create momentum, and when energy is low complete tasks that require less brain power.
• By understanding how your circadian rhythms work you can leverage your time in a more productive manner: you’ll elevate the quality and quantity of your work and will achieve more with less effort.
Plan your day the night before
1. Start the day with purpose and focus instead of wasting the first 30 minutes (prime working time!) on mapping out your day.
2. Schedule time to implement. Don’t stack your day with back to back meetings, you need to plan time to actually do the work. Schedule time to delegate & plan after meetings so that you stay on top of what needs to be done.
3. Identify your non negotiable, must-do tasks for the day ( 1-3 usually works). If possible, complete first thing in the morning to give you a sense of accomplishment and help get your day into flow. Commit to yourself that these tasks will get done before you finish work for the day. Be realistic!
4. Carve out focus time during your day. Turn off everything, tell your colleagues you are unavailable and give yourself time to focus on the one thing that needs your attention. If you are able to enjoy focus time each day – you’ll be amazed at your increased productivity levels.
RELATED: Improving Productivity In Your Business And Life
The tips we’ve shared are just a taste of how you can help build your business foundations, improve productivity and get ready to scale. Work through those that are relevant to your business & see your productivity sky rocket!
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About Debbie Eglin
Debbie Eglin is the Founder of Productivity Hub and knows that most small business owners are working far harder than they need to due to lack of smart systems and not having the right technology in place. She’s helping business owners achieve the lifestyle they crave through business systemisation.
Working in corporate administration for over 20 years taught Debbie that although business systems and processes aren’t sexy and are often unloved, they’re an absolute necessity for business productivity and growth. She’s translated this need to the small business market.
Debbie meets with small business owners who are frustrated at having to do it all which is inhibiting their ability to scale and focus on high value tasks. She’s developed a simple and transferrable method to help all small business owners systemise with ease.