Is your business team performing below average in customer service and delivery? If YES, here are 25 sure ways to increase productivity and efficiency in business.
Surveys have shown that 80 to 90 percent of people spend less than 50 percent of their working time on things they say are their top goals. This is quite an incredible statistic when you take your time to think about it. What it shows is that most people are passive in the way they approach the work week.
They are responding to emails, phones, meetings and other peoples goals and they come back home feeling like they have worked so hard, but in reality they have not accomplished much.
The demand and need for greater productivity has been on the increase due to technological advances, customer expectation and globalization. A business in one country of the world now has to compete with other companies in different parts of the world which they may not even know about their existence.
Why Work on Boosting your Productivity and Efficiency?
Both productivity and efficiency are really important for building a fantastic work ethic. In a generic sense, productivity refers to how well an organization converts inputs such as labor, materials, machines, capital et al. into goods and services that will satisfy a need.
Nowadays, increased productivity means working smarter. Efficiency tends towards the comparison between what is being produced as opposed to what can be produced using the same amount of resources. In order words, efficiency tries to examine how well and free from waste a business is.
Increasing your productivity and efficiency at work is not really a difficult process, but still, it does require that an individual be more conscious on how he or she manages the resources at their disposal. Here are some effective strategies that will help you to increase the productivity and efficiency of your staff at work.
25 Sure Ways to Increase Productivity & Efficiency in Business
1. Organizational skills: resolve to improve your organizational skills and use a filling system at home, work or on your computer. As much as 30 percent of work time is spent on looking for misplaced items. These are things that are lost because they have not been filed correctly in the first place. Spending valuable time to look for misplaced information or material due to a careless or non-existent filing system can be quite frustrating.
The best and simplest of all filing systems is an alphabetical filing system. In conjunction to this, it is advisable to have a record of all your files in a single place like on your desktop. This master list should give you the title of each file and should tell you where the file is located.
2. Automate as many tasks as possible: whenever it is possible to automate a task, make sure that you do so. This is because in today’s competitive environment, automating your business is a necessity and not a luxury.
By automating monotonous tasks, you will be able to save your time and shift your attention to more important tasks that require analytical thinking and a human touch. Even though implementing automation in the work place can be quite expensive to start at first but in the longer run, it will prove to be quite cheaper by cutting costs and increasing business efficiency.
3. Interact more on a face-to-face basis: while examining sending an email or chat message to a fellow employee as a method of getting answers and solving problems at face value, it may seem like an effective way of getting the answers you seek; but oftentimes however, it can have the opposite effect. This is because the subsequent back and forth sending of messages may even take more time than meeting them face-to-face.
While emails and chats are very useful in the work place, you should be comfortable to make sure that you communicate with your fellow employees on a face to face basis. This will keep the business moving efficiently as a problem that could be solved in five minutes face-to-face chat will not end up being a 20 message long email thread.
4. Prime time: you can increase your productivity by taking into cognizance your prime time. With prime time, you will organize your life so that you will be doing creative work during your internal prime time. Your internal prime time is the time of the day when you are most alert and productive.
For most people, this time of highest performance is in the morning when they have had a good night’s rest. For other people, it is in the evening or at night. It is important to know when your prime time is so as to schedule your most important projects accordingly to increase your productivity.
You should also be aware of what is known as external prime time. This is the time of the day when you clients and customers are most available. People should give a thought to structuring their day for both their external and internal prime time.
5. Air travel productivity: an important area where organizational skill is vital is air travel. If you are in a business that requires travelling from time to time, you should make use of this time to be very productive.
Due to the uninterrupted working environment that an airline can provide, it can make it an even more effective work environment than an office. If you plan ahead and organize your work before you leave for the airport, then you can increase productivity by accomplishing a lot of work when you are in the air.
6. Manage your time effectively: time is a very unique resource, in that it cannot be stored and once it is lost, it cannot be replaced. In order to get more things done in an effective and efficient manner, it goes without saying that good time management skill is essential.
To come up with an effective time management strategy that works for you, you will need to know yourself. You will also need to have a good grasp of self-discipline and the organizational method that works best for you.
7. Prepare in advance: preparing in advance is always essential if you wish to manage and maximize your time. Prepare your work list for the following day on the evening or the night before. The last thing you should do at the end of the end is to lay out the day that is about to come.
The best exercise is to plan your entire next day as the last thing you do before going home from work. When the plan your day the night before, your subconscious mind will go to work on the plans and goals while you are asleep.
Very often you will wake up in the morning with ideas and insights that apply to the work of the day. A major benefit of preparing your daily list a night before is that it will help you to sleep more soundly. One of the causes of sleepless nights is that people lie awake trying to not forget all the things they have to do the next day
But once you have written down everything that you have on the list, it clears your mind and allows you to sleep deeply. This will help you to increase your productivity throughout the next day of work because you will be more relaxed and refreshed.
8. Schedule your time: scheduling you time reduces stress sand releases energy. The very act of using your organizational skills to plan your day, week or month will give you a greater feeling of control and thus make you more productive throughout the whole day. Planning your day in advance also helps to increase your self-esteem and improves sense of personal power.
9. Start early: the more time you spend in planning, the more organized you will be in every area of your life. A lot of successful people arise at 5:00am or 5:30am so that they can have enough time to think and plan for the coming day.
As a result, they are always more effective than those who sleep in until the last possible moment. A few minutes of quiet reflection before you begin any undertaking can save you many hours in executing the task. When you get up early, plan your day in advance, you tend to be more calm, clear headed and creative throughout the day.
10. Limit interruptions: one of the reasons why members of staff find it difficult to complete tasks effectively is due to constant interruptions. Multiple meetings, email alerts, chat message pop ups and notification from your in-house project management software et al. have the ability to serve as major sources of distraction. In general, it usually takes some time before someone can resume working effectively after being interrupted.
A way to help ameliorate the issue of constant distraction at the work place is to schedule multiple meetings on the same day as opposed to have them several times and days during the week. Alternatively, you can also make use of some applications such as Inbox pause to reduce email notification.
11. Focus on a single task rather than multitasking: even though a lot of people prefer to multitask, it does not necessarily imply that they are more effective or efficient at the tasks they are doing. Also, multitasking is not useful especially if the tasks at hand are important. Multitasking involves spreading your attention to a lot of projects which mean that you are not entirely focused on any one.
Quite alright, a lot of tasks will be started, yet, a lot of them will not be completed in time or effectively. If you really want to get something done, give it all your focus as this will get it done a lot faster and will produce better results. Focus on a single task until it is completed.
12. Stick with the due process: if you have a project that is already being worked upon, trying to hasten the project can result in cutting corners which may reflect in the quality of the end product. Stick with the already established process that has been tested and trusted to work and produce the best results.
Cutting corners may also result in missing an ingredient or process in the project which may end up costing more time and funds. This however does not mean that a business should never change how things are done.
If you must change the way things have always been carried out, ensure that you took out time to deliberately weigh the need and implications of the change. Do not just implement something new on a whim or because you are running behind schedule.
13. Make use of a task management software: an effective task management software for specified teams can help everyone to work hand in hand, take note of how the project is progressing and stay in tune with the task. Email in recent times is not the most effective way to communicate and collaborate between teams. You can make use of so many task management software out there like Trello to enable communication and work progress to be in one place. It will help to save you the stress of having to go back and forth with emails.
14. Take a break: a lot of studies have shown that taking a small mental break from work, such as a short walk can help to increase your attention and efficiency. Trying to work for excessively long periods of time at a stretch can be quite counterproductive.
15. Set self-imposed deadlines: even though a lot of people see stress as a bad thing, it does not necessarily have to be so because a manageable level of stress can help to boost your efficiency and productivity. For tasks that do not have a deadline (that is open ended tasks) try to give yourself a deadline and stick to it as if it is a real deadline. You will be surprised to discover how focused and productive you will be when a deadline is attached to a task.
16. If possible, delegate: trying to do everything by yourself or trying to be at all places at the same time can quickly burnout an individual. It important to note than not matter how competent an entrepreneur or an employee is, he/she cannot do every task.
Instead of trying to micromanage tasks, it is better to delegate excess duties to competent members of staff. This is where an efficient team comes in. By spreading out the work more evenly, everyone will get fewer duties and as such will be more efficient and productive.
17. Have the right tools and equipment: having the right tools and equipment is really necessary as it will help employees to be able to perform their duties more efficiently and on time too. Little things like the extra time that is spent waiting for a paperwork to be printed out because of the lack of a fast printing machine can really be counterproductive.
Top quality modern programs and equipment can really make a big difference on how fast the work is carried out and also how the work is being perceived. Equipment like an MFP which serves as scanners, printers, copiers and fax machines can really be helpful in the working environment.
18. Make sure that the conditions of the workplace are optimal: studies have found out that the ideal temperature of a workplace should be between 68 and 70 degrees F (20-21 C). A workplace that is too hot or cold can be uncomfortable and distracting in the sense that employees will spend more time walking around to get to their coats or electric fans. It is important to ensure that the air-conditioning and heating systems are in proper working condition for the appropriate season.
19. Practice positive reinforcement: in order to ensure a productive and efficient working environment, it is necessary to encourage, motivate and reward employees when the occasion calls for it.
Applaud them in the occasion they had done well and also give constructive criticism in occasions where you believe that their actions have left something to be desired. It is also advisable to offer incentives when they do their jobs well. The reward can be in form of a free holiday, a cash reward, or even a free takeout coffee.
It is necessary to indicate the success of one employee to other staff so as to motivate and challenge them to do the same. When you challenge your employees to work harder and get rewards for their hard work, they will have something to strive towards and they will be more likely to be more productive.
20. Reduce stress in the working environment: workers who operate under conditions of intense pressure will definitely not be in their best form productivity and efficiency wise. A stressful workplace breeds poor results, less productivity and a higher level of disengagement.
Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that employees are happy to do what they do. Even though a lot of employers overlook the power of showing their employees how much they are valued and appreciated in the work place on a personal level, it does go a long way.
21. Match tasks to skills: having a good idea of your employee’s strengths, weaknesses and behavioral styles is very essential for ensuring that they are producing at their maximum efficiency. For instance, an extroverted and creative thinker is usually the best person to pitch ideas to clients.
However, putting the same individual in a rule-intensive, detail oriented task may not bring the best out of them unlike the previous task. Expecting that your employees will be good in everything is just unrealistic and ineffective. Before you delegate assignments to your employees, you should endeavor to know that he or she is best suited to perform the task.
22. Keep goals clear and focused: it is not unexpected to have employees who are inefficient in an environment where the goals and objectives are not well outlined and known. If the goals in a working environment are not properly defined and achievable, employees will definitely be less productive. To counter this, you should make sure that employee tasks are clear and as narrow as possible. Let them know exactly what is expected of them and the impact their assignment will have in general.
23. Do away with the excesses: when possible, avoid giving employees smaller unnecessary tasks when there is a larger task that needs to be tackled. Try to cut out tasks which will not give employees more time to focus on higher priority assignments.
For instance, if employees have to write a daily report for their supervisors, but their supervisors do not have the time to go through such a report, it may be wise cutting out the report requirement. Things should not be done on the basis that they are just formality as this is simply a waste of time and resources.
24. Train and develop your staff: reducing the number of staff training sessions or simply doing away with it altogether may seem like a very good way to save time and also cut costs, yet, this could ultimately backfire. Forcing employees to learn their job on the fly can be extremely inefficient, so instead of leaving the staff to stumble through learning how to do new things, take a day out to teach them the necessary skills they need for the job.
This way, you would have empowered them to accomplish the tasks themselves and not waste your own time in future to answer simple questions that a training would have prevented. After their original training, it is necessary to encourage continued education of employees by helping them to expand their skill set to the benefit of the organization.
This can be achieved by way of individual coaching, workshops, courses, seminars, mentoring, shadowing or even by increasing their responsibilities. These additional opportunities will give employees additional skills that will allow them to improve their efficiency and productivity.
25. Do performance reviews: it is almost impossible to improve the efficiency of your employees if they do not know that they are inefficient in the first place. This is where performance reviews come in handy. You can use it to measure the performance of your staff and then have a private meeting with them to tell them things they are doing right and areas in which they are slacking.
After giving them the review, you can ask them what they think you can do to help them improve. Asking for feedback will not only give you a clear and immediate way to help your staff but will also encourage a culture of open dialogue.