Boosting Productivity in Business: 5 Common Problems

There are lots of things that can make a business unproductive, if you know what you’re looking for. Check out these top five common problems and see if you can relate to any of them!

  1. Your workspace is inappropriate

A major productivity problem is that our working environment is often unsuitable for our personality. For instance, introverted people (that is, those of us who prefer solitary activities and recharge by spending time alone) tend to suffer in open plan office spaces. That’s because introverts are best left to work alone for the most part, absorbed in their work. However, open plan designs mean that introverts are frequently bombarded by chit chat, commotion, constant traffic and conversations that they’re unable to concentrate alongside.

Equally, extroverts (people who feel energised by a group and prefer to be around people) will find themselves bored senseless in a stuffy closed cubicle. So, increase your productivity by figuring out which type you are and where your desk should be.

  1. You’re fending off emails

Your boss might think that looking busy equates to being productive, but that’s simply not the case! If you’re living in your inbox, you’re probably spending the day making sure everything is replied to. Instead, encourage your co-workers to get up from their desks and talk to you if something needs doing immediately. Otherwise, ask them to compile you a list of things to address in one email and request that they send it at the end of the day (wherever possible).

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  1. Your work isn’t stimulating

Studies have shown that we’re most productive when we enjoy the work we’re doing, which is something you’ll know to be true if your working day flies by! If, on the other hand, you’re constantly watching the clock, it might be time to get yourself a new job… the bottom line is that you’ll work harder and work smarter if you believe in what you’re doing.

  1. You’re undertaking unnecessary tasks

Completing admin, checking in with team members, chasing up tasks and losing bits of paper… it all spells the death of productivity! If you find that most of your week is spent having to manage various bits and pieces – to the extent where you don’t actually get much time to do your actual job – then you probably need to change your system.

For example, a management tool like Upraise might assist with regards to employee productivity and help you to get on top of the superfluous stuff you’d otherwise be stuck doing all day. This will make you more productive on a daily basis, and will free you up to focus on more important, more fulfilling tasks.

  1. Meetings aren’t being performed properly

Finally, it’s likely that you’re being sapped of productivity by being dragged into unnecessary meetings. Unless a meeting has a clear agenda, isn’t too long and is finished with a follow-up, you probably don’t need to be in it. Try reducing the number of meetings you’re involved in and see if you get through more work!

How to stick to your goals

download-1002802_640If you’re like most business owners, you have a ten-page list of goals and things you’d like to accomplish. Working from home, there are also numerous distractions that get in the way of achieving success, both work-related and family-related. The key to continuously checking things off your list is to learn how to set and keep personal deadlines. Here are some tips to help:

Be Realistic

So what could be the problem with setting goals?  Well, there are those people that set large and totally unrealistic goals and those who don’t set goals at all. Or perhaps the goals are so small that they don’t help you accomplish anything. When creating your goals, take the time to make sure they’re realistic.

For example, if you have a goal to write a 30-page report to market your business, make sure you give yourself enough time to get the job done. Trying to complete the report in a single day may be biting off more than you can chew. Instead, a two-week goal writing two or three pages a day may be more realistic.

Leave Room for Error

One common mistake is to push your schedule to the deadline. Inevitably something will happen to prevent success. Continuing with the example used above don’t save that 30-page report for the last minute. Your internet will drop out, you’ll wake with a stomach ache or your car will break down on the way home from running errands. Make sure you schedule your days so that your project is completed on or before you need it.

Learn Your Triggers

Everyone has a few triggers that prevent them from being as productive as they’d like. Maybe you are easily distracted by Facebook and find yourself unintentionally spending hours on the site. Maybe you get caught up in email or daytime TV?

Learn your triggers and then create systems to manage them. For example, if you get caught up in Facebook, block the site on your computer during your productive working hours. If you enjoy watching daytime television, structure your work hours around your favorite shows and don’t turn on the TV until you’ve accomplished your set tasks for the day.

Finally, make time to relax and celebrate your successes. Taking time off from being productive is just as important as setting and achieving your goals. In fact, it may be more important. When you allow yourself to step away from your goals and your business, you’re able to return to them renewed and refreshed. It helps you maintain focus and a positive attitude.

Once you learn how to identify triggers and set realistic goals, you’ll find that you’re able to accomplish much more in less time. There’s satisfaction in that. There’s profits and business growth too.

How to organise your office

It’s not easy keeping your office organised when your attention (and workspace) is split between family and business. And with the best will in the world, the small people in your life are likely to mess it up on a regular basis!

But it’s well worth doing your best to be organised, because you can waste a huge amount of time looking for paperwork or equipment when you really need it. Here are some tips to help…

(Ever had to call your own mobile because it’s lost under a pile of papers? Yep, me too!)

How to Organise your Office | Kelly's Storage

An infographic brought to you by www.kellystorage.co.uk

Tips for making the most of your working hours as a WAHM

Mother_And_Baby_With_LaptopOne of your primary reasons for starting out as a work at home mum (WAHM) be because you want to have more time to spend with your family. Unfortunately, when starting out in self-employment, you may find that you’re spending even less time with them than you were before, simply because there’s so much to do. It can all be a bit overwhelming – but luckily there are a few ways you can streamline your business processes to make your working day a little bit easier.

Office Efficiency

Keep a clear desk. A tidy working area – or at least one where you can physically see the surface – psychologically puts you in an ‘uncluttered’ frame of mind. Before you stop work for the day, spend five minutes tidying up.

Colour code files and folders – use colours that you associate with specific emotions to help you decide: i.e. you might have a green folder for marketing activities (green for growth) and perhaps a black folder for the dreaded tax return!

Disable the new email notification so you won’t be distracted by it popping up on screen. Better still, only check your email at set times of the day: first thing, last thing and lunchtime can work. If you’re worried about being out of the loop, set an autoresponder that will tell people that this is what you’re doing and they won’t expect an instant response.

The trick to keeping on top of the paperwork is to deal with it as it arrives. If you don’t have time to do this, you need to set a time aside daily or even weekly to go through your in-tray. Try sorting it into four categories: Action, File, Bin/Recycle, Shred.

Automate what you can

Use an email service provider (ESP) to send out email newsletters. If you’re collecting email addresses to add to your mailing list you should be using an ESP anyway, to have a ‘double opt in’ mailing list. This ensures that only people who want to receive your newsletter will get it delivered to their inbox. You can write your newsletters and set the time for their release, days or weeks into the future.

If you use a WordPress blog, did you know you can preschedule your blog posts? If you write a month’s worth of blog posts in one go, you can then schedule them to be posted at whatever date and interval you like.

Software applications like Hootsuite can also preschedule your Tweets so you can write them and then schedule them to be Tweeted at whatever time you want.

You can buy software which will automatically send your articles to hundreds of different article directories across the web. Most are available on a month by month basis, so if you’re planning a big article marketing campaign, it might be worth signing up for a month or two.

A lot of marketing can be done at anti-social hours, particularly on-line marketing, which is brilliant as it means you can crack on with it when the children are asleep. As well as automating your Tweets, you can also use inbuilt buttons on your blog and website to automatically link up your new blog posts to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

As a business owner and a parent, your time is doubly precious. Don’t waste it – streamline your business processes and start enjoying more of the work/life balance you promised yourself when you started out as an entrepreneur.

Celina Lucas is author of   How to Run a Work from Home Business When You Have Small Children: The Secret to Achieving the Work/Life Balance You’ve Dreamed OfHow To Be A Virtual Assistant,  and  How to Start a Business When You’ve Got No Time (or Money)

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How a little tool called Workflowy can save your sanity

Today I’m introducing a new guest blogger to Business Plus Baby – Christelle Donaldson of The Handy Marketer. Over to you Christelle!

When it comes to work, I am a very organized person and I make the most out of the tools available at hand. I plan my week, I plan my day, I set reminders, I block time on my own to work on key projects, nothing escapes me. But at home, it can be a different story. I forget to pick up the mail, to put the trash out on the right day, to call my parents when I said I would and worst, to pay bills in time. My husband keeps getting frustrated with me and told me once: “don’t you have a whole army of tools that you use at work? Can’t you use them at home too?” Good question.

I tried a few options: Evernote, Google Tasks, Teux Deux, Reminders, Remember the Milk.  All these fancy apps that can do wonders, if only you stick with them long enough. But that was always the problem, getting used to the app, finding how best to use it and building a habit of looking at my tasks regularly. I found all these tools to be too sophisticated, offering too many options, needing too many clicks to update them.

And then I learned about Workflowy. I instantly fell in love with it and started using it seamlessly at work and at home.

Workflowy is an online tool for taking notes and making lists. It works quite differently from other applications in the way that you simply write lists and keep adding new lists or sub-categories. You can also zoom on a list, collapse or expand items, mark them as complete, use hash tags and search through your lists, making the tool very powerful yet simple to use.

Here is why I love Workflowy:

  • It’s simple: You don’t need to learn how to use it, it’s almost like writing on paper. In fact the help menu is very small since it is so easy to use.
  • There are no distractions: the interface is very minimalist so there are no distractions around. You just write on the page and do nothing else. Workflowy doesn’t offer the option of formatting your text, so you don’t fiddle around.
  • It’s online and mobile: Workflowy is a cloud based tool so you can access it anywhere as long as you can find a browser and an internet connection. This is why I love it, because I can use it at the office and at home without having to install a new software on my computer. The mobile application is also very practical and can work offline.
  • It’s printable: you can choose to print any part of your lists, whether big or small, and make it a full page document. Very practical for shopping lists!
  • It’s beautiful: this might not be important to you, but I look at my list all day so I’d rather have something pretty to look at.
  • It’s free: with a free account you can create hundreds of items per month. So far I never reached the limit, and I know that I can increase it if I need.

I encourage you to have a look at the tool and try it for yourself. And if you are still wondering what you can use it for, I’ll give you a sneak peek into the way I organize it, just from a task management perspective (you could use it for much more):

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What about you, what tool do you use to stay organized?

Christelle Donaldson is a busy mom working as a professional marketer and blogging at The Handy Marketer. She offers practical marketing tips and is the author of Business Blogging for Beginners.

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