Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’


Mondays with Mike: Productivity Killers – Apps You Should Prohibit in the Office

I don’t consider myself a dictator, but I do operate on the principle that no one cares about my company as much as I do.  I keep up on current research, and I’ve experimented with ways to boost my own productivity, and one thing is certain:  there are applications that have NO business in your workplace.  Assuming that you don’t run your office in order to entertain your employees, here are some apps that you absolutely must banish from the office:

  1. social-mediaSocial Media.  Facebook., Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr … not a single one of these apps belongs in your office (with the possible exception of the staff who handles social media for your company.)  They’re colossal time-suckers, and in addition to offering your staff games, quizzes, and celebrity news to occupy their work time, these platforms also offer a window into your office that you can’t control.  Do you want your competitors knowing that your customer service reps have the highest Candy Crush scores in the industry?  These apps – used on company time – provide absolutely zero benefit to your business.
  2. Media Players.  While it’s technically possible to come up with a legitimate business reason you might need YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Google Play on your computers, the odds are much greater that these apps will be used to divert your staff’s attention from their work.  Don’t make it harder than it already is for your staff to stay focused.  Have your IT folks block these apps from your company computers.
  3. Addictive Games.  The aforementioned Candy Crush, as well as Angry Birds, Words with Friends, the notorious Flappy Bird – all of these games are expressly designed to keep us playing longer than we’d planned.  While we all need breaks in order to stay productive, it’s much better to stand up, walk around, and get a change of scenery, rather than wasting half an hour trying to match up candies on a smartphone.  Games like these do not belong in the office.  ßSee the period?
  4. Illegal Sites.  It should go without saying, but prohibiting your staff from accessing pornography and gambling sites from the computers you own is just common sense.  Not only are these sites productivity slayers, but they also often contain illegal material that you could be prosecuted for.  Head these problems off before they start.
  5. Interoffice Chat and Text.  Now you may balk at this one, but I’ve found that almost never have these apps made my staff more productive.  You not only run the risk of your message not being conveyed as clearly as it could be by simply walking down the hall and delivering it in person, but you also wind up with off topic material that distracts your employees from their work.  An icon that chimes each time a new message comes in is a distraction that requires recovery and refocusing time to overcome.  Just eliminate it altogether.

Employee satisfaction is hugely important to me and other successful entrepreneurs who know that keeping good people on staff is cost effective.  What I’ve learned, though, is that while you may ruffle a few feathers by banning Facebook in the office, it’s always worth it.  If you’re serious about pushing your staff to produce work they’re proud of, you’ll be able to create that culture by banishing unwanted distractions.    


Mondays with Mike: The Secret to Doing More, Faster

fast_expressions_idiomsWe’re all concerned about productivity – measuring it, boosting it, evaluating it.  Don’t believe me?  If you enter “productivity” as a search term on Amazon, you’ll have access to over 172,000 products.  We have apps that are supposed to make us more productive, and we tend to evaluate new technology based on its potential to help us do more in less time. 

I’m not immune to the siren song of products that consolidate tasks and let me work smarter and achieve better results for my clients, but I have found that sometimes the very best solution can be a low-tech approach.  My primary productivity booster is a two-fold approach.

First of all you must unplug.  Don’t panic – I don’t mean completely.  I’m talking about unplugging from the biggest timewasters while you’re working.  If you take the simple steps of closing Facebook, Twitter, and the dozens of other popular apps, your productivity will increase more than you can imagine.  Don’t believe me?  YouTube reports that more than two billion videos are watched on their site each day.  Two billion.  Let that sink in.  You don’t actually need to see Miley Cyrus’ new video during business hours, and the single best way to eliminate the temptation to meander through social media and similar distractions is to close those apps.  Period. 

Even your email account can be a distraction that inhibits, rather than fosters productivity.  If you can resolve to check email periodically, rather than constantly, you will discover that you can work more quickly and effectively as a result of the focus you can achieve when you eliminate distractions.

We’re going to go really old school for the second part of my approach.   Dig out those archaic tools – pen, paper, and a highlighter – and try my method for organizing and prioritizing your workflow.

Step One:  Divide the piece of paper into two columns:  A narrow column labeled TYPE and a wide column labeled TASK.  In the wide column, list all of the things you need to accomplish.  As new tasks occur to you throughout the day, add them right away, rather than wasting energy on trying to remember them.

Step Two:  Go down your list of tasks and in the TYPE column, put a $ next to each task that will bring in revenue in the next thirty days.  Put a smiley face next to each task that’s for an established client.  You’re going to use these symbols to help you prioritize your workload.

Step Three:  You’ll notice that most of your tasks neither generate revenue nor serve an existing client – these duties are going to be sorted to the bottom of your to-do list.  Work your way through the list, beginning with the tasks that have both the $ and the smiley face:  jobs for established customers that produce revenue are your priority.  Next, work on the tasks for existing customers – the smileys.  Third priority is the revenue producing tasks for new clients, and fourth – only when you’ve taken care of your existing clients and generated some revenue, do you attack the chores that are left on the list.

Step Four:  One of the key elements of this strategy is the way you manage your list throughout the work day.  When you start on a task, highlight that line.  That way, when you’re interrupted by a phone call or an urgent matter, you don’t have to waste time recalling where you were when you get back to your list.  When the task is complete, cross it off your list (so satisfying!) and highlight the next task.  You’ll have a concrete plan to help you work through your day and get the most out of your time.

Real productivity isn’t about the latest app or management buzzwords.  It’s about disconnecting from distractions and focusing your energy on the tasks that best reward your time and energy.   


Productivity Tips For When You Feel Like You’re “In The Weeds”

6178168482_37ab536ce9_oIt’s Monday at 9 a.m. and you are already stressed. Instead of enjoying a relaxing weekend, you spent the last two days stewing about the crazy week ahead of you. Now that you are sitting at your desk, your mind is racing on how get the most done in the shortest amount of time.

Before hyperventilating, take note of the following tips from Cathy Sexton, productivity strategist and coach at The Productivity Experts, and watch your list disappear in no time.

Clear your desk

You desk should be clear of all distractions every day, says Sexton.

“When you have 30 things on your desk, all of that stuff is subconsciously talking to you and taking your energy,” she notes. “If you clean off your desk and organize, you will feel tremendously more focused.”

Dump your brain on paper

Do you have so much on your mind that you can’t figure out what to do first? If so, Sexton recommends writing everything in your head out on paper. The process of distilling your thoughts into written words will calm you down and help focus your energies.

Make a master list

Instead of coming into work and making a 20-item to-do list, pick the three or five most important items on the list and focus on them for the day.

“Once you get those done, focus on something else,” Sexton says. “When we have 20 things on our list, we pick and choose what we want to do and then end up getting wrapped up in non-essential things.”  

Set a timer

Setting a timer can be an incredibly useful tool in tracking how many minutes/hours you are spending on work related tasks vs., say, checking your Facebook page.

“Set a timer for 30 to 45 minutes and no more than 90 minutes at a time,” Sexton suggests. “Stand up and take a short break after the timer goes off, then write down your activities in a log to help you track what you are doing at what time.”


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: The Easy Way to Keep Your Team Healthy

businesswoman eating saladWhile the full effect of the Affordable Care Act remains to be seen, there’s one smart move every small business owner can take to build a healthier workforce: Start a workplace wellness program. You’ll get healthier employees, reduced absenteeism and greater productivity—and may even see lower insurance costs as a result.

A workplace wellness program can be an official effort with solutions provided by your health insurance company; an informal arrangement where you as the boss encourage, promote and support healthier habits; or a mixture of both. Here are some ideas to get started.

Find out what your insurance offers. If you offer employees health insurance, talk to your provider to see if the plan offers wellness programs such as smoking cessation, reimbursement for gym memberships, acupuncture treatment or weight loss programs. You may even be eligible for premium discounts based on employees’ participation in such programs.

Match the program to your employees’ needs. What health issues do your employees need help with? If you have a lot of overweight employees on staff, for example, programs to encourage weight loss or exercise would be a good fit. Survey your employees to see where their interests lie—the more involved they are in creating the wellness program, the more likely they are to participate.  

Walk the walk. There’s no point in starting a wellness program if you, the boss, live on coffee and cigarettes. Set an example by making an effort to eat better and make time for relaxation and exercise in your day.

Get active. It’s easy to make the workday more active without putting on sweatpants for an hour-long workout. Try holding meetings standing up or walking (either outdoors or in the hallways), investing in a couple of standing desks for employees to use, or getting on the PA every hour to lead everyone in a group stretch or quick walk around the office.

Get expert help. Contact your local hospital, yoga studio, gym, Weight Watchers office or other health-related organization to see what outreach programs they have. Perhaps you can get the local yoga studio owner to lead a quick class, then offer discounts to employees who join the studio. You can even barter for services like this (designing the studio’s website in return for a discount on classes).


Mondays with Mike: How to Handle Impromptu Phone Calls

How do you manage aimless calls that can cut down on your productivity? Author Mike Michalowicz offers up some tips for dealing with these moments in the office in this week's "Mondays with Mike" video:


Mondays with Mike: Constraint Theory

Tackle the constraints within your business by identifying and managing your bottlenecks. Mike Michalowicz, author of "The Pumpkin Plan", tells you how to improve your efficiency and productivity.


Increase Productivity, Decrease Multitasking

Improve your productivity throughout the day while decreasing the amount of multitasking required. Find out how from author and consultant Barry Moltz: 




 
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