Being productive is how a business makes money, pure and simple. However, not all employees and managers have the best habits when it comes to keeping the flow of work at optimal levels. In fact, many will waste hours per week on non-work activities. So, how does one improve productivity in an organization?
The hardest part about motivating a workforce is finding a system that will encompass the whole. For instance, not everyone cares for an “Employee of the Month” placard hanging on the wall.
Helping your staff create optimal habits may take a bit of time, but the ends will justify the means. As long as everyone is on the same book and page, even the smallest of changes could lead to profound results. This is one of the reasons why small business productivity apps are so popular.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to increase work efficiency for the business. Here are 11 of the most simple habits I’ve found that may help productivity at work.
1. Avoid Multitasking
Studies show how someone can lose 40% of productive time by simply changing from one task to another while multitasking. What was once thought of as a good thing, being able to handle more jobs simultaneously has proven problematic for many.
Keeping the mind focused on one task at a time reduces the risk of making errors while getting that one particular job done faster. You wouldn’t mow your lawn with one hand while trying to operate a weed-eater with the other, would you? Although this is an extreme example, it does point out how difficult and awkward multitasking can be for some.
This isn’t saying that all multitasking aspects should be condemned. In fact, there may be several tasks that are easy to combine. However, you should bear in mind how an employee can feel overwhelmed when more and more get added to his or her plate. The end result is a high-stress environment which often prompts many to quit.
2. Promote Fitness and Exercise
Exercise isn’t merely a way to lose weight or look good at the beach. In reality, it also boosts brain power. Many studies show how health and fitness improve cognitive abilities such as memory and logical thought. This means a regular routine of exercise keeps the mind focused on daily tasks.
Regular exercise also helps deliver stamina throughout the day. This is why a lot of people will do a workout routine first thing in the morning. It prepares the body and mind for what is to come.
Another great benefit to exercise is adapting to stress, especially if you commit to a strenuous routine. During intense workouts, the body releases the hormone endorphin, which acts as a pain inhibitor as well as a stimulant.
The point is to get your heart rate up through physical activity. You can do this in the morning, but many professionals will take several smaller “exercise breaks” throughout the workday.
3. Avoid Notifications
Diversions can come in all forms. Email, phone calls, text messages and even social media interactions take time away from productivity. In fact, one study demonstrates how employees will exhaust 56 minutes per day thanks to non-work-related phone use.
Get in the habit of treating a workday as it is: a work day. All other interactions that are not work related are easily handled after hours. With the exception of emergencies, you and your staff should be focused on the work at hand and not what’s going on with sites like Twitter.
Schedule your available time accordingly. If you need to respond to emails or make phone calls throughout the day that are non-work-related, make sure they don’t interfere with your job. This gives you the chance to interact in the workplace without sacrificing your productivity.
Many business owners will set aside their mornings specifically to manage email. After that, their mind is focused on the tasks for the day.
4. Create a “Green” Workspace
Plants do more than just add color to a room. In fact, studies show how plants help boost thought processes by 26% when used in the workspace. While you may not want to recreate the Amazon, adding greenery may definitely impact productivity.
One of the elements to consider is how sleep quality is improved thanks to plant life. Part of this is because of the comfort and improved air quality that comes from various plants in the office. An improved sleep quality leads to a more focused mind while reducing the impact of overall stress.
Going “green” at work doesn’t necessarily mean filling the office with ferns, either. In reality, simply having large and open windows to let in the sunlight has a positive impact on productivity. For many, it’s all about the natural light and being more open to nature that drives their focus.
Even the sound of babbling water over rocks promotes a stress-free and more productive environment. This is why miniature desk fountains are so popular among many. This is not to mention the sound machines that promote a “natural” ambience.
5. Take Your Time
It’s always better to do a task right the first time than it is to go back and fix mistakes. By taking your time to focus on a task, you put more effort into the finer points that make it a success. Rushing to get the job done will only increase the chances of something going awry.
Going back to fix a mistake because a project was rushed can lead to higher costs down the road. Don’t get me wrong, you still want to deliver products and services in a timely manner. However, many customers don’t have a lot of faith in something that appears rushed.
Think of it this way, would you trust a computer specialist if he or she delivered your computer quickly but with extra screws left over?
Speed doesn’t necessarily mean being efficient.
6. Host Fewer Meetings
A meeting, while possibly being informative, are time-sinks when it comes to productivity. Everyone in attendance is no longer doing their job, including yourself. This isn’t too mention how often people lose interest in these gatherings or completely tune them out while playing on their phones.
Many meetings can be done away with thanks to various pieces of technology. For example, you could host business-only WordPress site to share information which people can read on their own time. You could go so far as to use presentation platforms like Slideshare to deliver information instead of a full-blown meeting.
I know you will eventually have meetings that are mandatory. However, not everything detail of the business as a whole needs to be the focus for a good chunk of production time. How many details can you fit in a business-wide email when it concerns the company? Quite a few, and it won’t intrude during production time.
7. Give Yourself Deadlines for Work
Even if your job doesn’t include actual deadlines, creating them can be of exceptional use. This gives you the mindset that a job “needs” to be done in a timely manner. If you can make a habit of it, you can create a good flow of continual work.
The deadline needs to be something realistic that isn’t going to be overly stressful. Trying to cram an actual two hours of work into 30 minutes may lead to mistakes and pressure. On the other hand, you don’t want a deadline that is too simplistic either. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of creating one to begin with.
The hardest part of giving yourself a time limit is sticking with it. A lot of people may fall into the mentality that it’s not a real goal. This will lead to slacking instead of increasing productivity in the workplace. Perhaps find a way to reward yourself by meeting your deadline goals.
8. Keep Track of Regular Tasks
Keeping track of your regular tasks gives you an idea of how much time it takes you to complete a specific job. Using the data you collect, you can start to identify problem areas and where a drop in productivity begins to happen.
Keeping track in something like a spreadsheet is also useful as you can average out your workload and provide accurate estimations on completion times. This is exceptionally useful if you’re a freelance professional who owns a small business. With a quick glance, you can tell your clients how long it will take to complete a specific job. From using social media marketing tools to writing content, monitor your entire day.
Another benefit of time tracking is providing data when you start to develop a good working schedule. How much time do you spend replying to emails? How often do you take breaks? All this information is readily available if you keep tabs on everything you do in the workday. In reality, a lot of professionals use tools like Libre Office or Excel for this very purpose.
9. Take Regular Breaks
Studies show how humans can go into physiological fatigue every 90 minutes of working. So, trying to push to a traditional 2-hour mark is actually hurting your productivity in the long run. While stimulants may give a boost to make it beyond 90 total minutes, it’s not exactly a healthy way to work.
Taking a break allows the body and mind to unwind a bit. How often have you walked away from a project only to return with a fresh perspective and complete the task with ease? Giving your mind a moment to collect itself helps it process information.
The best way to spend this break varies from one person to another. Everyone has different needs that help them feel recharged. One of the more common methods is doing some kind of exercise, such as a brisk walk or something more intense. The idea behind it is to get the blood flowing, which provides more oxygen to the brain.
10. Time Difficult Tasks Efficiently
Everyone has a “sweet spot” in time when they are the most alert. Timing the most difficult tasks during these periods of time gives you a better chance of completing them with ease. In fact, studies show how specific schedules do not work for everyone. You may be one of those people who are exceptionally productive in the early morning. Perhaps after lunch, you’re ready to tackle anything.
The point is to time the more difficult jobs when you are most mentally and physically capable. Not only will it reduce stress, but you’ll finish those jobs in a more efficient amount of time.
Completing a difficult job when you are alert also means you don’t have to worry about it later on. Having something exceptionally hard in the back of your mind causes stress and may impact the rest of your day. You could even prolong the more simple tasks just so you don’t have to deal with the more difficult job.
11. Keeping a Tidy Workspace
One of the key points for many efficiency experts is keeping a tidy and clutter-free working environment. Not only does this help you find the things you’ll need throughout the day, but many are often affected by random bits of stuff scattered across a desktop.
For many, an unorganized workspace makes it far more difficult to work. Being unable to have sufficient space to work or spend time looking for a pen can quickly add up throughout the day. It’s all about keeping organized and having access to the tools you’ll need to work efficiently.
Take a few moments at the end of each workday and clean up your area. Not only does it appear more professional, but those who work with you may appreciate the cleanliness. In reality, your workspace can inadvertently cause disruption to the efficiency of someone else.
Organization can also help save money. Instead of replacing things you think you’re missing, they may simply be hiding in your workspace.
Productivity Equals Profit
Whether it’s creating a clean environment in a restaurant or typing out as many blog posts as possible, keeping yourself moving only serves to benefit the company. The trick is to create habits that will improve efficiency in a business. Find methods that motivate yourself and staff for excellence. You may just see higher profitability and a lower turn-over rate.