Whether you’re working solo or running an enterprise-level business, you should continuously be on the lookout for ways to improve the productivity of your business. Instead of scouring the internet for productivity hacks, I’ve put together these ten surefire ways to boost your productivity.
1. Ditch those motivation killers.
If you’re looking to improve the productivity of your business, then the first place to start is to identify and get rid of motivation killers. In most workplaces, these motivation killers include:
- Inadequate rewards. Make sure to pay your staff, and yourself, what you’re worth.
- Awful office space. Rethink your office set up so that it encourages productivity. Keep it at a comfortable temperature, let in natural light, add a splash of color, bring-in plants, invest in comfortable furniture, and keep it clutter-free. Also, reconsider open office layout since they’re distracting and lead to more employees getting sick.
- No self-development. You and your team should always be learning something new. Provide opportunities for self-development by sending everyone to a workshop or paying for online classes. Give your team a chance to share their thoughts.
- Inefficient collaboration. A suggestion box is a start, but don’t forget to ask them questions occasionally.
- Negative people. Happiness is contagious. If you have an employee who isn’t satisfied, find out what’s going on before it spreads. If someone isn’t clicking with your culture, you may have to let them go.
- Fear of failure. Mistakes happen. Don’t punish yourself or your staff if an honest mistake has been made.
- Lack of clear goals. Always set clearly defined goals and objectives to stay focused.
- Micromanagement. Give up some control and let your employees have the freedom to their job without you question their every move.
- Useless meetings. Scratch unproductive meetings and only hold essential team meetings. When you do lead a meeting, keep it around 15-minutes, and provide an agenda in advance.
- Wasting your team’s time. Believe it or not, your team will put in those extra hours if they’re productive. Don’t spend your team’s time by sending them unnecessary emails throughout the day or requiring daily check-ins.
2. Tap into intrinsic motivation.
After you’ve ditched those motivation killers, it’s time to tap into the power of intrinsic motivation.
As I explained previously, intrinsic motivation “is what drives a person to do something because they find gratifying, interesting, or enjoyable.” Instead of receiving an award or compliment, the “reward is actually the opportunity to learn, grow, explore, and actualize our potential.”
The best part of intrinsic motivation is that it can easily be fostered by:
- Autonomy. This is simply allowing employees to make decisions on their own. Of course, you need to set boundaries. For example, instead of offering a flexible schedule every day, allow employees to set their own schedules twice a week.
- Knowledge. Again, provide opportunities for you and your team to develop or strengthen their skills.
- Purposefulness and meaning. Explain to your team how they fit into the bigger picture. When an employee knows they’re contributing, they’re more creative, engaged, dedicated, and happier.
- Responsibility. Give your employee’s additional duties or allow them to use their talents. Even if it’s not in their job description. Just make sure you don’t do this when they already have a full plate.
- Progress. It’s in our nature to respond to progress. Think about how motivated you are after you’ve lost some weight. Provide opportunities for your team to see what goals they’ve accomplished.
- Accomplishment. A simple “thank you” lets your employees know that you appreciate all of their hard work and dedication.
- Recognition. Recognition is sometimes done through external motivators like prizes. However, when you hear others recognize you for all you’ve done, like via positive comments from customers, it’s enough to give you a boost.
- Social interaction. Humans, by nature, are social creatures. Allow for opportunities to collaborate and socialize.
3. Follow the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule was developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto – which is why it’s also known as the Pareto principle.
Following this rule is a proven and effective way to boost your business’s productivity since it helps you stay focused on your most important tasks. The focus rule is this rule states that 80 percent of your results should come from 20 percent of your efforts.
You can implement the 80/20 to identify the areas where you most effective. Once you do, you focus on those areas. For example, instead of spending the majority of your day on mundane tasks, you would focus on the areas that generate revenue.
You can also use the rule to figure out how you can spend your time more productively. Instead of working overtime, found out when you’re at peak productivity so that you can get more done in less time.
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, suggests that you perform an 80/20 analysis of your efforts monthly because “As a business owner, it’s straightforward to fall into the trap of being busy, and being busy is not necessarily productive.”
4. Adopt healthy habits.
As Renzo Costarella notes in a previous Calendar article, if you want to have a more productive workday, then you’re going to need to adopt healthy habits.
The first place to start is waking-up earlier. Instead of hitting the snooze button, get-up earlier and have a morning activity planned and ready the night before. Preparation could include anything from exercise to responding to emails.
After you’ve got your morning routine planned, find tools that can automate your schedule and time management, stop being a perfectionist, and utilize wasted time. For example, you could write a blog post during your morning commute. Also, master the art of knowing when to move on to another task. When you’re stuck — find the time to disconnect, do something else, then come back later when you are refreshed.
I would also add that as a business leader, it’s also vital for you to get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat healthily. You’ve probably heard that a million times, but it does wonders for your productivity when you take care of yourself.
Once you’ve adopted these healthy habits, share them with your team. If they need some pointers, lend them a hand.
5. Upgrade and use tech – but do so responsibly.
Your laptop may appear to be working just fine when browsing online. But, can it handle more challenging requests that your work requires?
Remember, technology moves lightning fast. So, even if your laptop is only a couple of years old, it may already be outdated. As such, you’ll need to invest in a new computer that features multiple processors, better hard drives, and faster memory so that it works at peak performance.
But, it’s just not your hardware. It’s also moving to cloud-based software that can automate everything from scheduling to invoicing to customer relationship management. This way, you and your team can focus on activities that will grow your business.
And, as a perk, since this software updates automatically, it’s a simple way to secure sensitive data. You may not think about it, but having to handle a security breach is time and financially consuming.
You should also embrace tools that can increase your productivity. Productivity tools can include anything from time trackers, password managers, website/app blockers, or project management tools.
6. Keep your priority lists lean and mean.
“My best tip for staying productive is to embrace the reality that there is no such thing as a list of 10 priorities. Defining a concise list of true priorities helps focus teams and create alignment behind those projects that truly are the most important,” Chris Licata, owner of Blake’s All Natural Foods in New Hampshire, told Entrepreneur,
It’s true. When you have a lengthy to-do-list is that it prevents you from getting your most important activities from getting done. Instead, keep your to-do-list lean and mean. Start by jotting down your three most urgent and essential tasks for the day, and that’s it. Whatever you have to do can wait.
7. Implement a continuous improvement approach.
“Improving productivity is an ongoing activity,” writes the team at BDC Canada. As such, you should set up a continuous improvement plan by:
- Assessing the strengths of your competitors and the best practices within your industry, aka benchmarking. However, don’t copy their exact plans. You still need to develop a plan that works for your business.
- Bring in outside help to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your business. For example, you could bring-in a strategy, operations, financial, or IT consultant.
- Focus on your most urgent and vital priorities instead of tackling everything at once.
- Assign specific teams to specific problems or processes.
- Put a formal suggestion system in place for employees.
- Pay attention to small accomplishments. These can lead to significant boosts in productivity.
- Don’t forget to measure your results.
8. Set standards and provide skills development.
When you’re working with a team, it’s your responsibility to establish standards. Standards mean that your employees know what their responsibilities are and what you expect of them. If not, your employees, it’s going to be challenging for them to complete their assigned tasks and responsibilities.
At the same time, you also should be providing your team with opportunities for them to develop skills and advance professionally. You want everyone within your organization to be challenged and grow. The last thing you want is for them to become stagnant.
9. Learn how to delegate.
Delegation can be a win-win. For you, it frees up your time so that you can focus on more pressing matters. For your employees, it gives them additional responsibilities and the chance to develop new skills.
- Clearly articulate your desired outcome.
- Identify and explain possible constraints and boundaries.
- Include your team in the delegation process.
- Balance the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority.
- Delegate to the lowest possible organizational level.
- Provide adequate support and resources.
- Focus on the results.
- Ask for solutions; don’t just provide answers.
- Build motivation.
- Don’t micromanage, but also maintain control by discussing timelines and scheduled checkpoints.
10. Communicate effectively and efficiently.
Even solopreneurs should work on their communication skills. After all, you don’t want to have any miscommunication between you and your clients. Miscommunication not only prolongs the duration of a project, since you’re going back-and-forth making changes, it can also put a strain on your relationship.
If you’re collaborating with a time, effective and efficient communication is paramount. It ensures that a project runs smoothly, while also maintaining a healthy workplace culture.
If you’re looking to strengthen your communication skills, here’s where you can start:
- Become an active listener. An active listener means that you pay attention to verbal and nonverbal clues that a person gives you. You then provide feedback and respond appropriately.
- Strengthen team communication. As a leader, you should be aware of your team’s climate. If you feel that there’s tension building, you need to address it appropriately and quickly.
- Double-check your messages. Let’s say you’re sending out an internal company email. Take the extra minute to review the message before hitting send. You’d spend more time addressing the error or confusing your team if there was a mistake.
- Balance human and technology interaction. Communication tools like Slack can be a great asset when collaborating with your team. But sometimes you also need face-to-face interaction — namely when recognizing or disciplining employees. Find a healthy balance between the two.