It seems that in our professional lives, we’re constantly reaching for more and always looking for ways to push ourselves harder and increase output. Our seemingly insatiable need to force just a little more productivity from ourselves and from our employees can backfire though and leave us looking and feeling like tyrannical taskmasters. However, there are ways to stay productive that don’t always include longer hours, drooping eyelids, and angry employees. Whether you’re an entrepreneur with only yourself to keep on task or you have a staff to keep motivated and productive, these tips can help reduce expenses, increase profits, and keep your business operating effectively.
1. Effective Time Utilization
Not everyone works at the same pace and not everyone needs to. One of the most frustrating aspects of the typical 9-5 job, or 40-hour workweek for some people is that they might only need half that time to do their job effectively. The other half is spent killing time and generally being unproductive, and if other employees are affected by this person’s boredom, it decreases their productivity as well. If this is the case, it might be beneficial to review their job duties, description, and responsibilities and consider adding responsibilities or changing their position to part-time.
2. Keeping Time
Clocks are important reminders of deadlines, schedules, and effective time utilization. Your workplace should not look like a Vegas casino, devoid of timekeeping devices. Using clocks around the workplace (especially in offices and break areas) can serve as constant reminders that break time is over, you’re late for a meeting, or subconsciously, that time is money.
3. Work Environment
Making a work environment comfortable, but not distracting is one of the toughest balancing acts in the workplace. A comfortable atmosphere can make employees more productive by relaxing them or less productive by distracting them. Things like radios, windows, and plants can be distracters but at times are necessary to relieve stress, calm anxiety, and actually increase productivity. Your best bet is to keep work spaces open and well lit so that the opportunity for drifting, dozing, and other productivity killers, are eliminated.
4. Restrict Internet Access
Thousands of hours and billions of dollars each year are lost to workers surfing the internet. Consider restricting access to the internet on office computers. While you certainly don’t want employees to be restricted in their ability to do their jobs, it’s important to help them avoid the temptation to become distracted along the way.
5. Enforce Hours
Force yourself, and/or employees, to finish the day within an allotted timeframe. Allowing employees, even yourself, too much leeway when it comes to a work schedule promotes misconduct and lower productivity. If you haven’t already, consider utilizing a time clock to punch in and out, even for upper-level and non-hourly employees. You might be surprised at what inconsistencies and deviations you find.
6. Breaks Are Breaks
Everyone needs to step away from it all occasionally. Breaks are important in allowing us to clear our heads, regain focus, and take a breather. To maximize the effect of break periods, ensure they are not interrupted with work related matters – then they aren’t really breaks. Try to place break areas away from phones, computers, and similar items that might interfere with a rest period.
7. Proper Tools
It is important in increasing productivity and eliminating down time that employees have what is needed to do the job. There are few things more detrimental to productivity than getting rolling on a job or project only to find you have to stop to find supplies or order the materials you need to finish your work.
8. Emails and Phone Calls
Checking emails and making phone calls can eat into a large chunk of your day if you aren’t careful, especially if you’ve set your computer up to automatically notify you of each incoming email. To avoid these types of distractions, attempt to set aside certain times of the day that you know to be slower periods to check and write emails and make phone calls. Doing so, can save you time, minimize distraction, and ultimately increase productivity.
9. Productivity Standards
Whether you are your own boss or the boss of many, no matter how disciplined you are when it comes to work ethics and productivity, it helps to have goals and standards to compare productivity levels to. Without productivity standards, it is difficult to determine whether you are achieving your business goals.
10. Assessment and Evaluation
Measuring productivity won’t do much to decrease waste and inefficiency if you don’t analyze your results. Assess your standards periodically, comparing them to what you’ve achieved. If they aren’t where you’d like them to be, make changes based up on the data you’ve collected and the trends you see.
About the Author Kris writes about making money and managing finances for an Australia website where you can compare the best credit cards from various providers including ANZ and Aussie. As this article would suggest, he is also a total productivity freak.