“It is vain to do more with what can be done with less” – William of Occam (Occam’s Razor)
It’s no secret that time is the most valuable commodity, hence the saying that ‘time is gold‘. That is why productivity is an ongoing concern for any organization or individual. All of us want to accomplish more with less time and resources, so here are a few tips to help you and your team bump up your employee productivity.
1. Set Clear Goals and Agreed-Upon Deadlines. Make it clear to each member of your team what goals are most important to you, what output or results you expect from each other, and when you expect delivery. This eliminates ambiguity, confusion, and other time-and-energy-wasting activities that do not contribute anything to your end goals. Also, use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage by setting realistic but slightly tight deadlines. This law states that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. In short, if you are given a 24 hour window to complete a project, the time pressure forces you to focus on execution and you have no choice but to do the bare essentials. In contrast, that same project given a one-week window will take up a lot of other time-wasting activities that are not important to the desired result.
2. Eliminate Facebook Access. This may be a bit too extreme, but Zuckerberg’s baby is a real time waster. Most people start this downward spiral with the intention of just a quick look-see of their facebook accounts. Then after checking some pictures, commenting, and a few status updates, thirty to forty five minutes has passed. D’oh! Of course, this doesn’t apply to your social media marketing team, but I think the rest of the company can get through the day just fine without updating or checking facebook statuses.
3. Eliminate Unnecessary Meetings. Traditional meetings waste the otherwise productive time of team members. Most meetings are informational in nature, so these can be replaced by a simple email to all concerned. Meetings should also have a limited number of attendees and should end on schedule. The next time you setup your next meeting, evaluate first if there is a real necessity for it and if it will be worth interrupting your team from their real work.
4. Encourage Sleep. If you want to increase your team members’ productivity, educate and encourage them on the benefits of enough sleep. There are numerous studies that support this concept, and I myself can attest to it. As a writer, I simply write clearer, faster, and better when I have enough sleep the previous night. If you can, don’t allow overtime that result into all-nighters in the office. Give your team enough time to rest and sleep to maintain their productivity and brilliance.
5. Encourage the 50 Minute Rule. As featured in KeyRocket blog, studies show that our brains need to take short breaks every hour to be able to recharge and replenish its glucose supplies. This enables you and your team to stay on top of work with a laser-like focus and lightning-fast thinking.
6. Create a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). This article on Tim Ferriss’ blog explains how Best Buy Co. Inc. was able to increase overall productivity by 41% when it adopted the ROWE model. According to Cali Ressler, co-developer of ROWE at Best Buy, “ROWE stands for Results-Only Work Environment where each person is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done. The old rules that govern a traditional work environment–core hours, face time, pointless meetings, etc.–have been replaced by one rule: focus only on results.” The success of this model at Best Buy and at other firms is really an eye opener, because finally, paper shuffling and excessive motion can no longer be disguised for delivering results.
7. Teach Employees to Say No. Teach your team to protect their own time by learning to say no to trivial things and focus on doing the important. They will eventually thank you for it because they will dodge a lot of stress and frustration when deadlines loom.
8. Empower Your Employees with Decision Making. Most of the time, decision bottlenecks occur when a manager or employer has too much on his plate. Team members should be given decision making powers up to a certain extent (or a certain dollar amount if the decision turns out to be wrong) to keep the daily operations running smoothly and quickly.
9. Track Accomplishments and Milestones Publicly. Set up a whiteboard or just about any board where your team can see the milestones that they have helped achieve for the firm. This boosts team morale and keeps them focused and involved on the goals that you all share.
10. Use Smart Tools. Nowadays, there are plenty of productivity tools that you and your team can use to organize your projects and tasks. There are dozens of online and mobile apps to help you and your team, so pick one that suits you best. Last but not the least, check out keyrocket, the coolest productivity software that automatically recommends keyboard shortcuts for most popular software like Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer, MS Outlook, and even Gmail! Do you know that a person using shortcuts instead of mouse actions can save around 30 minutes per 8 hour workday? That translates to 10 hours per month, which can be otherwise used for other important tasks.