Business owners, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and managers all struggle with the pure challenge of just getting everything done. Part of the battle can be won by figuring out exactly which goals and priorities you are working towards, and what core aspects the company needs in order to grow. Once those have been plainly laid out, it is easier to let go of the less important tasks filling your plate.
After developing a firm idea of your priorities and goals, follow these other tools and suggestions to create an even more efficient company for the coming year.
- Your greatest assets as a company are your employees. Keeping them happy will do more for your company than anything else you do. Aside from the normal benefits available to employees, consider adding small perks to the office such as a small soda fountain in the break room, a ping pong or foosball table to let off steam during breaks, t-shirts or other freebies, or even rent a theater for employees to watch the latest box office hit.
- Nothing makes people more frustrated, or lose more time at work, than a tedious phone system or a glitchy network. A fast and reliable network and broadband will not only keep your employees happy, it can save a couple hours a week not having to wait for pages to load. Overall, it will allow employees to do their work more efficiently.
- Keep employees involved in the company. They use the systems on a daily basis and know very well what works well and what needs improvement. Keeping a line of communication open for feedback—and listening to that feedback!—is important for maintaining an efficient workflow.
Software and Programs
- Google docs and Dropbox are great tools for group and team collaborations. Google docs provides a way to see and create changes as they happen between team members, saving time from having to send dozens of emails back and forth. Dropbox is an online storage system that can be accessed from anywhere and on any device. This means that you can share files with coworkers away from the office or from your own home.
- Producteev is great for tracking workflow and creating a clear view of what needs to be done. Group or Team projects can be created with tasks assigned to different employees; tracking features can be used to see who is on target and what needs a follow-up. Producteev can also be used for individual workloads to prioritize assignments, break down big projects into easy-to-deal-with steps, and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
- A program like Evernote is great for organizing and sharing notes and images. Snap a picture of the whiteboard full of ideas, and instantly share it with everyone without having to rewrite it all. It keeps all notes and ideas for a project together in one spot, and everything is easily searchable by keyword.
- Look around for some free scheduling software online to track your jobs, invoicing, inventory, and scheduling. Keeping it all in one place saves you time from having to flip between many different programs to get the information you need.
- The best way to increase productivity is to minimize interruptions. Email is a huge time waster; if you do not rely on it for constant contact with customers or other coworkers, limit yourself to checking it once or twice a day. If it is a coworker you need to talk to, talk to them in person for a couple minutes rather than letting the conversation drag out the entire afternoon while you exchange emails. If you cannot talk in person, give them a phone call. Not only will relations between coworkers and with customers improve, your employee’s productivity will also increase.
- Keep meetings to about once a week and keep them short and to the point. Try cutting meetings in half to see an increase in productivity. There’s no point in having meetings about efficiency if all you do is talk and keep the guidelines from being put into action!
- Learn to say no. Unless you survive entirely on energy drinks and stimulants for the rest of your life, you will never be able to do everything that is asked of you. Keep in mind your priorities and cut out the things that are on the bottom. This includes saying no to customers—be selective with your customers, and if a customer causes more problems and hassle than they are worth, it may be time to make room for more customers who will be more lucrative.
With deadlines fast approaching and to-do lists ever growing, it is important to prioritize, stay on track, and ruthlessly cut time wasters out of our lives. With these tips you can do just that in the coming year.
About the Author
Jake Magleby has written extensively about effective marketing, sales, and financing strategies to help small business owners succeed in the fast-paced and ever-changing business world. He also has an interest in education and development.