In the land of beeps and buzzes, dings and blips, trending topics, comments, likes, and retweets, it’s no wonder that distraction is the number one enemy to your productivity.
With twenty-five years of helping well over two thousand businesses start and grow, we’ve fought our fair share of distraction. Fresh from the trenches, here are our Best Kept Secrets to Boosting Workplace Efficiency:
Set deadlines (& follow them!)
Distraction and procrastination often arise from feeling out of control or overwhelmed. The best way to keep a cool head and get that work done is to take a step back, get a good look at your tasks, and prioritize. We recommend doing the “worst first” – get the hardest tasks out of the way. Extra points for you if you set goals, get those goals on your calendar, and stick to those deadlines.
Keep Track of Tasks
Not sure where to even start with your priority list? Well, if you had been tracking your time, that would have been a piece of cake. But not to worry – you can start now. Tracking your time is as easy as clicking a button. Programs such as TSheets can help you track the tasks you work on and the time you spend. This is a huge help in prioritizing and taking a good look at the work you do each week. And having a snapshot of your company’s work can help in more ways than one.
Create Rules in your Email
Clutter is an efficiency killer. And one of the biggest culprits? Your email inbox! Did you know that you can set rules to automatically file certain emails into folders before it clutters your main inbox? Just find the “rules/alerts” option in your email software and specify by sender, keywords, or other details. You can also set certain emails to delete automatically before you ever have to see them. Of course, don’t forget to also “Unsubscribe” from all those spam emails so you can be rid of them once and for all! And last: TURN OFF YOUR EMAIL ALERTS! No one needs those unnecessary dings in their life.
Link Your Systems
Running an office isn’t easy, and a lot of the admin work you weren’t expecting to spend so much time on always seem to be the exact tasks that burn the hours. One of the best ways to minimize some of that work? Automate them! From your website to your email marketing, Quickbooks to CRM, plug-ins and add-ons make connecting all of your programs seamless and stress-free. A streamlined flow from website to email, email to CRM, CRM to Quickbooks (and so on…) is a great way to catch leads, get them into your pipeline, and automatically have that follow up without you having to lift a finger.
Automate Social Media
Do you tell yourself you’ll check Facebook for “5 minutes” and then two hours later find yourself three years deep into your old high school crush’s profile photos? You’re not alone. Social media is a whirlpool of information that sucks you in. On the flipside, social media marketing is one of the best ways for people to get to know your company better and to make connections. So how do we solve this problem? Again – automate! Sites such as Hootsuite are a perfect way to group all of your social media channels into one site. From there, you can view updates from the main dashboard, schedule posts ahead of time, and even get analytics. That’s two (or three or four?) birds with one stone!
Don’t skip that break!
Work smarter, not harder. Live by this credo. Everyday. Trust us – overworking yourself is just going to make everything worse. When you feel yourself getting office fatigue – get up, walk around, take a break, go outside. Even better, schedule small breaks throughout the day. The “magic number”: work for 52 minutes, then take a break for 17. And of course, make sure you take your vacation days. They’re there for a reason. Vacations are known to boost efficiency. Take advantage!
Have you followed all of our tips and still find yourself overwhelmed? Then maybe you should consider outsourcing some of your work to a virtual assistant. There is a wide range of tasks a VA can help you with: telephone answering, email management, calendar scheduling, back-office tasks, and even higher level work such as bookkeeping or setting up and maintaining your back-office workflow. Start small and work your way up. See how it fits. It’s a great foray into hiring staff without the overhead.
So now that you’ve successfully distracted yourself enough to read this article (just kidding!) we hope you’ve got a game plan going forward to keep that efficiency flowing. Setting up systems, finding help, and focusing on working smarter are great first steps. And, as we always say – don’t put off today what will make an easier tomorrow, so get those automated systems set up. You’ll thank us later.