How to Increase the Productivity of Your Business? Here are Some Tips

Productivity2If your wondering how to increase the productivity of your business, get in line! These days, it seems like everyone is short on time and no one has the time to get it all done! Business owners have it particularly hard because they not only have to complete the work of an employee, they also have to spend hours each week managing and running the business.

As a business owner, any little step that can increase productivity and eliminate time wasters is important. A few minutes saved here and there can really add up and can mean the difference between getting a break at the end of the week and working constantly! Try these tips to increase the productivity of yourself, employees, and your entire business!

Create a schedule

If you don’t have a schedule, you are constantly in survival mode. In survival mode, only the most important things get done every day. If you have a schedule in place, you can decide when to do certain tasks so you don’t end up running around like a chicken with its head cut off. You can create your own personal schedule and also create schedules for employees.

Set goals

Goals are essential to the management of a business. Without goals, you will have a similar problem to the issue above. Goals give you a frame of reference and help you plan how to get to where you want to be. Goals will help you determine what to place on your schedule and how to divide tasks between employees.

Divide tasks

You can’t do everything yourself. One problem that many business owners face is trying to do it all themselves. It may be cheaper to do it yourself, but you will sacrifice in other ways, such as time with your family or your personal health. You can increase your overall productivity by assigning the most challenging tasks to yourself and assigning easier tasks to others. If someone else can do it, let them!

Manage efficiently

You can’t increase productivity without managing efficiently. One problem that many business owners have is the issue of too many different things to watch at one time. You have to keep track of customers, employees, HR, accounting, marketing, and a variety of other aspects of your business. Each of these sections probably has their own reporting system and log-in info. It can be challenging to have enough time to manage all of these areas efficiently. This is where productivity managing software programs can help. Programs like Domo help you view all of your important information from one easy to use dashboard. This will increase your productivity by making it easy to see what is going on in your business.

Increasing productivity will not happen over night. It will take work on your part and the part of your employees. However, if you actively work toward managing your business with productivity in mind, you will start to see results that will help your business grow and improve in size, efficiency, and profits.

Writer Biography

This is a guest post by Lindsey Mcmahon. Her interests are Personal Development, Parenting and Health but she is constantly extending her field of view to incorporate interesting news suggested to her by her readers. 

 

How To Keep Your Employees Focused and on Task

focus1-margo-connerKeeping employees productive and focused is one of the major concerns of most employers. It often seems that virtually anything can distract an employee, from personal issues to frustrations on the job. A good employer needs to be inventive about getting the most from their employees.

Use The Right Technology

Frustrated employees can easily become distracted from the task at hand, and one of the most frustrating things for employees is using technology that is ill-suited for the work that they’re doing. Using the right technology can cut down on employee frustration, increase productivity, and keep your employees focused. Listening to employees about complaints they have about the current systems and how they can be improved can prove extremely beneficial.

Don’t Micromanage

Many employees find that they lose their focus when micromanaged. This is because lengthy meetings and status reports can easily throw an employee off of what they are doing. This can be more noticeable and irritating to the employee if they are asked for these reports often. A good manager needs to find ways to check in on the status of projects and employees without interrupting or micromanaging. Software solutions such as a business metrics dashboard offered by CFOwise.com can allow a manager to check on the information that they need without individually connecting with their employees.

Enforce Taking Breaks

In office environments in particular, many employees end up skipping their breaks because they are working on project that demand their full attention. Unfortunately, employees that skip breaks are usually less focused and productive than employees that take their breaks on time. Employees that take breaks can rest their minds and recharge their energy, which allows them to look at problems with a fresh set of eyes. A business atmosphere that encourages skipping breaks or working overly hard will do little to focus employees but much to keep them in a constant state of distraction.

Acknowledge Their Accomplishments

One of the easiest ways to get employees interested in the work that they do is to take an interest in them. By taking an interest in your employees and noticing when they do things particularly well, you will bolster their confidence and encourage them to work even harder. Employee recognition programs are another easy way to get employees to feel as though the management cares about and notices their individual efforts. Department-wide goals can also encourage staff members to work together, creating a more friendly office environment for everyone.

Four Ways Companies are Trying to Better Serve Their Customers

Store-Associate-Helping-Customers1-580x360One of the biggest priorities of any company is providing excellent customer service. After all, if your customers aren’t happy, your business won’t thrive no matter how great your products or services are. From using products provided by http://www.mshare.net/mindshare-platform/ to employing various feedback channels, there are a host of ways that businesses focus on customer service.

1. Social media opens the door for multiple ways to contact a business. From direct messages on Facebook to Tweets on Twitter, businesses are utilizing their social media applications to hear from and respond to consumers. Ideally, these social media platforms will be manned around-the-clock so that customers don’t have to wait long to hear back. Just knowing that there are various ways to contact a business is great for customer satisfaction, though, even if it takes a couple of days to get a response.

2. The best customer service departments know that “no” is never an answer. Not every single request can be met by a business. However, that doesn’t mean that customer service should just shut down a customer without giving an alternative. It’s important to help out customers as much as possible, no matter what. When a customer requests something that just isn’t possible, the customer service rep shouldn’t simply say “no” and hope to be finished with the phone call. Instead, they should offer any type of alternative that will appease the customer.

3. Customer service has to be reliable. More and more, businesses are realizing that being great during a season or around the holidays isn’t enough. Customers have to know that every single time they call, they’ll be handled in the same, upstanding way. Never knowing what you’re going to get when you call customer service is sometimes more frustrating than simply expecting the worst. Plus, when some customer reps are helpful and others are not, it’s difficult to get the same answer twice, which is a common gripe amongst customers. Great customer service should occur every single day, no matter what.

4. In an age of Internet marketing and living our lives online, it’s refreshing to deal with people in person. Not every business can accomplish this, but some can, especially if they cater to the local community. Going the distance, both figuratively and literally, is a huge boost for customer service ratings. Customers want to know that they’re more than just another phone call that’s waiting in the queue. Handling customers personally makes them feel respected as individuals.

How to Create a Productive Working Environment

2101652-workgroup-interacting-in-a-natural-work-environmentWhether you are an entrepreneur looking to upgrade your home workspace into an office environment, you want to shuffle your existing office layout around, or you simply want to move into a bigger office, it is important to remember your employees during this process. Productivity is key to your profit margins and creating a happy workforce is essential! You might be surprised how much of an impact the layout of your office can have.

Measure Up

Before you start flipping through catalogues or searching for furniture online you need to know how much space is available within your selected premises. Make a scale drawing of the office, or hire an interior designer or architect to do so – this will allow you to make cut-outs of different types of furniture and place them in a variety of positions. Try out different floor plans before you purchase a range of new items in order to save both time and money. This also means that you will have to measure the space so you won’t run into problems later on.

In order to keep employees content you must ensure that they have enough space to walk around, room to manoeuvre office chairs at their desks, plus the opportunity to hold conversations to allow breaks in the working day.

Selecting Furniture

If the office is open plan, you will have a choice between desks facing each other and cubicles. Although cubicles ensure that distractions are minimal, they are also not conducive to encouraging conversations about work and can restrict movement within the office. Desks are a lot more popular for many open-plan offices and it was even reported by HR thought-leader Dr John Sullivan in 2012 that Google were responsible for the “death of the cubicle” with their scientific approach to the workspace. New ideas can be shared and innovation is encouraged using the desk model, while cubicles act as a physical barrier to eye contact and communication.

Additional items such as printers, scanners and fax machines should be placed within peripheral areas and since these can be loud you should try to avoid having them too close to workers where possible. Think about health and safety carefully – is your furniture stable enough to support them?

Colour Schemes

Colour schemes are also important within the working environment, for example going for a very bold colour like red or orange has been proven to encourage productivity but may cause employees to feel more stressed, increasing heart rate and even blood pressure while green and blue are said to give off calm and relaxing vibes. Why not go for a combination? You should also think about the lighting, for example are your windows large allowing plenty of natural light to come through?

Make sure you consider your office space with care and you will reap the benefits in the long run!

 

The 5 Biggest Time-Wasters in Blogging

Burnt-out-dudeFor many people, being a successful blogger is the new dream job. What could be better than sitting at home in your pajamas immersed in a subject you’re truly passionate about? But blogging, just like any other business, has its headaches and major time wasters. This can be especially problematic for bloggers who work from home, where the lines between labor and play are blurry, and not getting something done can be the difference between having a legendary weekend and working through Saturday Night Live.

So what are the biggest time-wasters in blogging, and what can you do about them? Let’s take a look.

1. Waiting on Slow Internet
Blogging is entirely internet reliant. Whether you’re writing a post in WordPress or editing a video you plan on placing on your front page, that connection has to be zipping along if you ever plan on getting through your day. But the more you do online, the more likely your bandwidth will suffer and your whole system will slow down.

If you find that this is frequently a problem, it’s time to improve your connection. First, try not to launch bandwidth hogging programs like Skype, streamed video games, and video editing software all at once. Tempting as it may be to have a video call with a fellow blogger streamed into your flat screen TV, try also to avoid these larger, bandwidth hogging devices. If working on both bandwidth hogging programs and devices is a must, upgrade to business class service (you are a business, after all) as well as to an N Dual Band or AC router. If you’re still having trouble from here, make sure your computer isn’t downloading updates in the background, or, worse yet, viruses. Get that system clear!

2. Getting Bogged Down in Email
From comment notifications to advertiser outreach emails, that inbox of yours is likely stuffed full of important emails jockeying for your attention. But, no matter how good you may be at banging out a quick draft, email is a big distraction that can knock you out of a workflow, adding more tasks onto the end of your day. Soon you may find yourself with a clear inbox and a content-less blog, or a blog that’s full of content and an inbox overflowing with angry emails inquiring about your lack of response.

To avoid these kinds of situations, we recommend reading this email productivity guide, which provides quick and easy tips for mastering that inbox box. A few quick ideas might include processing your email in batches at set times during the day rather than throughout, and turning off access to it using an app like SelfControl. Another great idea is using Gmail filters to immediately archive certain types of mail, such as industry-relevant newsletters you’ll want to read eventually but that don’t require your immediate attention. Of course, as a rule of thumb, you want to aim for the smallest inbox possible by the end of the day, but that often is better accomplished by treating email as a task like any other, not a means of procrastination.

3. Not Knowing What to Write About
It’s the age old writing dilemma: you start out with passion and a million ideas. And then, after months of writing about the same topic, you come up short. Now you’re banging your head against your desk, or leaving your laptop behind entirely to procrastinate with a good round of kitchen cleaning.

To prevent this kind of paralysis, it’s important to plan ahead with an editorial content calendar. Here you might add industry-relevant events (which can provide for great commentary blogs or contests), give-aways, guest posts, and expertise posts, among many other things. For even more ideas that also happen to be search engine optimized, use Google’s Keyword Tool to expand your search and determine just what your audience is looking for.

Of course, to do all of this, you’ll have to make sure that your blog has a clear theme and purpose. While it’s perfectly normal to narrow yourself into a niche as you discover your passions and your audience’s interests, you’ll find it much harder to write about everything than to write about clear themes.
If there is a deeper problem at hand — namely, that you’re a reluctant writer — try giving yourself artificial constraints, like writing all of your posts for the week on Mondays.

4. Building Traffic
It’s not that building traffic is in itself a time waster; quite the opposite. There’s really no point to a blog unless someone is reading it. However, many bloggers find the whole subject of SEO and traffic building intimidating, and react by either not doing it or not doing it very well. In the former case, that renders the entire endeavor of running a blog a waste of time; in the latter, that makes for a lot of inefficiency as bloggers try to paste together diffuse efforts into one.

The solution? Remember that a jack of all trades is a master of none. Rather than trying to do everything at once, build one or two strategies into your daily routine, and continue from there. You might, for instance, begin building traffic by leaving at least five comments on other blogs a day, and reaching out directly to like-minded people on Twitter. Or, perhaps you might set a bigger goal for each month, like making sure you have a clear and engaging call to action at the end of each post, made all the more compelling with the help of a web designer, or securing two guests posts. When it comes to saving time in blogging, the exact approach matters less than picking one and focusing, rather than doing a little bit of everything poorly and distractedly.

5. Trying to Write Epic Posts, Every Time
Once you’ve written one post you’re really proud of, suddenly it feels like every post has to meet those same standards. This can again lead to writer’s paralysis. And, because the epic posts are often long and meaty, it can also mean you’ll spend a whole day toiling at this one novel.

Here’s a secret: while content has to be frequent and it has to be good, it doesn’t have to radically alter the universe every time. Don’t be afraid to mix up the format with simple tips and tricks lists, slide shows, contests, announcements, personal photos — you name it.

As a great example, take a look at this weekly themed post from a small business, WriteByNight, a writing coaching service in Austin, TX. All they do is define a word for their followers, and then challenge them to write a story that’s 25 words or less using the chosen word. Not only does this foster more engagement than longer posts, it requires very little time and effort on behalf of the blog owner, who alternates these kinds of posts with announcements, instructional videos, and much meatier guest posts. That’s win-win!

Take-Away
Blogging is riddled with just as many time wasters as any other career. Know what they are, master a few strategies, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful (and annoyance-free) blogging career!

How to make your days more productive

Yearning to be more productive, so you can squeeze more into each day? If you are like many people, you are trying to find ways to reduce time wasted on meaningless things by focusing on getting tasks accomplished as efficiently as possible. It is with this goal in mind that this article will provide 10 easy tips for making you more productive each and every day.

Start each day with a list. If you want to get things accomplished in a short period of time, then a quick list can help you to stay on track. Write a list of 5 or less things you must get done today, and place this list near your work area so it is a visual reminder of what you need to get done.

Prioritize your tasks. This can be a productivity buster, especially if you have a lot to do. To master your tasks, you must learn to prioritize things in the order in which you will get them done. Number your list from one to five, with the number one being the most important thing and five being the least important thing.

Break tasks down. If you have a project that seems overwhelming and you are finding it hard to get started, take the time to break it down into smaller steps. Then start working on each step in focused spans of time and in the order that makes most logical sense.

Delegate and ask for help. A productive person knows when to ask others to pitch in and help with specific tasks. It is up to you to be more productive by delegating certain aspects of a project out to others who have the time and resources to get it done.

Use a clock timer. Many experts agree that it is possible to be more productive simply by setting a timer for getting tasks done. Take a moment to look at your list and then decide how much time is reasonable for getting each thing done. Set a stopwatch or clock timer for 10 to 15 minutes and focus solely on working non-stop during that time period.

Eliminate distractions. We live in a world where being distracted constantly by the television, radio, cell phones, and more seem like normal things. However, these are just ways that our minds get distracted. Set aside time that is completely free of distractions for work and you will be amazed at how productive you can become.

Take time to care for yourself. A body that is tired or hungry is not at its most efficient; therefore, it is up to you to take care of your physical needs first. That means not skipping meals or staying up too late every night trying to get work done.

Reward your accomplishments. When you have completed a task on your list, it is time to celebrate! That’s right; taking time out to reward yourself for a job well done is a positive way to increase your productivity. Treat yourself to little rewards whenever you can.

Give yourself a break. The mind and body are not machines. At some point, from working too much, you are apt to burn out. It is important to take time out for a “mental health” day once in a while. After completing each task, step away from your work area and get some fresh air or a short walk to get energized again.

Avoid procrastination. The killer of productivity is procrastination. Avoidance of necessary tasks or pushing things off continually eat away at your ability to be efficient and productive. Make it a rule to get small tasks out of the way immediately, or delegate them to others who have more time, so that things do not pile up on you.

While these are just a list of some of the things you can do to become more productive in your life, they do take time and commitment to master. Try adding one of these steps each week to increase the likelihood that you can be more efficient and get things done in a more productive way. Remember, by taking baby steps, you are becoming a more accomplished person.

About the author: Emily Joseph has written for the vision industry for years and years. When she’s not busy writing, you can find Emily reviewing Lasik providers and spending time with her husband kayaking.

How to marry your mission

A few months ago I interviewed Cosmo Fujiyama, a good friend of mine that I worked with in DC a few summers ago. She talked a lot about marrying your mission and doing what you are passionate about. Ever since then, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this concept. I love the idea of being married to a mission and having that mission be your job. This then got me thinking, how do we achieve this? How do we figure out how to marry our mission and thus generate more passion and progress in our lives? Here’s what I figured out:

Recognize your passion

Some people have known their passion their entire life. They’ve always known what lights their fire and what keeps them up at night. But for some of us it takes a little longer. We may not know exactly what it is that we want to invest ourselves in for our entire life. That’s ok, it just takes some time and a little bit of trial and error. Take the time to discover your passion and make sure to recognize it when you do.

Don’t ignore yourself

I’ve often found myself going throughout the day and having ideas pop into my head. But I shake them off and dismiss them. I finally learned to stop doing that. I bought a little journal and turned it into my idea book. Writing down your ideas will help you come up with new projects and help you to be more creative. It also helps you learn more about yourself and what you want to achieve and learn.

Set goals

Setting goals makes you commit. You commit to start little by little achieving more and more. By doing this, you will progress towards your ultimate goal of marrying your mission.

Don’t let fear stop you

A lot of times, we give up on a dream because it’s too hard or too risky. We can’t let that stop us! If you want to create a happy life where you are living everyday in a great relationship with your mission, you have to push through that thick wall of fear. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

Make it happen

Marrying your mission isn’t a fickle relationship that has you breaking it off every other week. This is a deep-rooted, undying love that you are committed to, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. After you’ve recognized your passion and made it a habit of achieving goals and punching fear in the face, you are well on your way to making your dreams happen. Keep going, never give up, and you’ll find yourself in the happiest relationship of your life.

Dell Education Challenge

This past week a friend of mine shared with me Dell’s newest competition. It’s open to any graduates or undergraduates in any field of study. Your business plan can be non-profit or for profit and they are offering $30,000 in prizes and awards. Guys, this is a huge opportunity! If you have an idea and you want to run with it, don’t be shy about it. Enter into the competition and get the ball rolling. All it takes is an idea to get things started, and what a better time to start than now.

 

 

 

 

So here’s my challenge to you: Get going on your idea. Whether it’s talking to an investor, a partner, setting up a website, or creating a product, don’t delay. Take opportunities to put yourself out there and take risks. You’ll never regret it.

How to keep good hygiene in the office

As working women, a majority of our time that we are awake is spent in an office. Whether we like it or not, our workspace can affect our mood, productivity and hygiene. If we let things go unclean for too long, there’s no telling what kind of germs will latch themselves onto us. So, we’ve come up with a little list of easy tips to keep yourself and your office in good hygiene.

  1. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer out for everyone to use. Just because we pass around papers and documents doesn’t mean we need to pass around the germs with them.
  2. Keep clutter to a minimum. A clean desk equals a clear mind. If your papers and office are organized, you will feel more at peace and less stressed at the end of the day.
  3. Clean out the kitchen at least once a week. The office refrigerator and pantry can quickly become a hazard if you aren’t careful. Tell employees that you will throw out any food left on counters or in the fridge every Friday. Even things kept in Tupperware, it needs to go. You don’t want mold and bacteria growing anywhere.
  4. Make personal hygiene a standard. You don’t want frazzled or scraggy looking employees. Make sure everyone in the office is on the same page with personal hygiene.
  5. Keep yourself looking healthy. After long nights in the office, you might see wrinkles carving their way around your eyes and forehead. You can avoid that with wrinkle serums. Here’s a site we found that has some good products to try.

Following these steps will lead to less sick days and a happier office. We know it’s worth the extra squirts of hand sanitizer and paper filing.

Sometimes, you need to say No

As women, we often have a hard time saying no. We like to make sure everyone is happy and everything is getting done. We also tend to think that we can make all of this happen by ourselves. Thus, we say yes to requests and pleas for help. Everytime.

Learning to say no is healthy. It will cut down on your stress and let you have time for the most important things in your life. Here are some situations when you should say no:

Feeling over-stressed or over-worked. Work and stress often come hand in hand. However, there is a limit. If you are feeling like nothing will ever get finished or you are having to sacrifice your family time for work, you need to say no to more projects and tasks.

You feel uncomfortable. If you are asked to do something that makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable, say no. You don’t want to compromise your morals or become wrapped up in something you don’t agree with. Trust your gut and say no.

Stick with your passion. If you get into the habit of saying yes to everything, you will end up working on projects that you aren’t passionate about. As a result, your work won’t be up to par and you won’t be happy. Stick with projects that you care about or think are important.

No is just a two letter word. It’s a simple word that will make a big impact when you learn to use it in the right situations.