In a business climate where everything is about saving costs, improving your productivity has never been more important. You know your trade depends on your ability to be efficient, and at the end of the day being more productive means more money on the bottom line! We all have slow days, however if your slow days seem to be becoming your working style, then you may have a problem! Whether it’s you or your team that needs a boost, here are 7 tips for improving your productivity.
1) Identify Your Peak Time
There are times in our day when we are much more productive than others! For example, you might be a terrible morning person who takes a lot of coffee and a few hours to really get going, or you may have a team member who is super switched on in a morning but has a real afternoon slump. It’s natural to have these times, it’s just helpful if you understand which time is best for you. If it’s the morning, plan in difficult tasks then so you can approach them with the most energy, including tasks you’ve been putting off for a while! Work with your team to understand their most productive times too, so you can make the most of them and delegate where possible!
2) Review Your Processes
Take a little time to review the processes within your business to see whether or not there are improvements that can be made. Often when you sit down to do this, you soon realise that you’re duplicating work and not using your energies in the right places. For example it could be that you’re spending a long time on administration, invoicing and chasing customers for payments, when you could be out there finding more business! There are a number of different job management tools online that can lift the burden of a heavy admin workload and give you more time to concentrate on the task in hand.
3) Get Some Rest
It sounds counterintuitive to productivity, however taking a break is essential for improving productivity. Taking a short walk or simply getting away from the task in hand refreshes the mind and ensures you have more energy to tackle it when you return. Getting enough sleep is important too, as you know yourself, there’s no time you’re less productive than when you’re worn out! There’s a famous quote, “early to bed and early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise”, so make sure you’re getting your 8 hours!
4) Ask Yourself a Question
Try to get in to the habit each day of asking yourself “is what I’m doing productive?”, as it will really help you identify your vices! It could be a little Facebook scrolling that turns in to 30 minutes of wasted time or perhaps reviewing paper job sheets that could be done electronically. Asking yourself this question really helps you to understand where time is being wasted and how it can be improved.
5) Prepare for the Next Day
At the end of each day it’s well worth taking the time to prepare for the next one. Rather than finishing your job and getting out of the office as quickly as possible, take a few moments to consider what is happening the next day and what you need to prepare for. Doing this will help you switch off on an evening and enjoy some rest, and also ensure that you face the next day with renewed productivity and a clear idea of what you need to complete.
6) Don’t Overload Yourself
One of the biggest barriers to improving productivity is a workload that is simply unachievable! There is nothing more demotivating for you and your team than starting a day’s work knowing that there’s no physical way that you could possibly complete every task. Often company owners and managers make the mistake of thinking that an increased workload will increase productivity, however more often than not you find the opposite occurs. Take a look at your workload and see what could be delegated or saved for another day, and encourage your team to do the same. Letting the client down is obviously not an option in the trade, so knowing what’s achievable and finding a solution early doors is really important.
Often there’s nothing that makes you more productive than knowing there’s a great reward waiting for you at the end! You know that in the trade it’s important you deliver an excellent level of customer service, so you don’t want yourself or your team rushing through their jobs. However offering an incentive, such as an extra holiday day or a small bonus, can really motivate people to achieve more. For yourself it might be something small like a Friday night takeaway, or something bigger like that must-have gadget you’ve been waiting to buy! Whatever it is, you’ll feel more motivated on those tough days when you have something to work towards!
Improving productivity isn’t easy, but if you can understand the barriers and put incentives and technologies in place to help things run smoother then you’re right on track to a more productive and happier workforce!
By Richard Harris, director, Okappy