If businesses were able to operate like Jack Bauer, 24 hours would be sufficient.
Unfortunately, unlike Jack Bauer who is fictional, the challenge of increasing overall productivity is very much a reality for businesses.
Business owners and employees from all industries, sectors, and verticals can all agree on the fact that there are simply not enough hours in the day to complete every necessary task or assignment. Juggling multiple day-to-day expectations, staff members and operational tasks can stretch the limits of even the most efficient organization.
So to help out, we’ve listed nine of the best productivity techniques and tricks that can help you work smarter, not harder. Remember, technology and outsourcing services play a pivotal role in success and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
While there is no shortage of choices available to select from when it comes to productivity hacks that complement your workflows, these are some of our favorites. Hopefully, with the right combination, you can achieve the productivity that you’re looking for.
The Pomodoro Technique, started in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, is a well-established time management practice that encourages you to focus on tasks broken into segments. Specifically, with this technique, you should focus on one specific individual task uninterrupted for 25 minutes.
When 25 minutes pass while working on this single task, you should then take a 5-minute break to reset your mind before reverting back to the same task or starting a new one. After four “pomodoros” have come and gone, or four 25-minute focus periods, you are then able to take a longer 15 or 20-minute break to again reset your mind.
Cirilo believed that by fragmenting your time within short, periodic segments, you will be able to increase focus and will be less distracted by external disruptions. If you are interested in trying the Pomodoro Technique, you are in luck: there are modern-day options for tracking your time.
Similar to budgeting or weight loss apps, time management apps aggregate your output data and bring attention to your day-to-day habits to show you areas where you can improve and increase your productivity.
For example, with time management systems like RescueTime, you can monitor how much time is being spent on specific apps, websites and projects. The data will help you learn which websites or apps are most distracting to you (ahem, Twitter and Instagram). You can also see which work-related tasks like emails or meetings are eating time from your day.
If you are billing clients by the hour, check out time-tracking systems like Chrometa and Lawgro. These systems let you monitor where your time is being spent and help you reduce the time spent recording your billable hours at the end of the day or week.
Using the data from your time management system allows you to evaluate your biggest distractions, helping you discover your most productive hours and helping you reconfigure your day-to-day schedule for increasing output.
You might not even need to use a time management system to know that you are easily distracted. It is easy to get caught up going down the rabbit hole of pop culture, current events or social media (I know I am guilty of doing so). That is why using apps like StayFocusd and Self Control allows you to block distracting websites while you are trying to be productive uninterrupted.
Distraction elimination apps allow you to create customizable restrictions like which websites or programs that you would like blocked and for how long. For example, you can decide to shut off your email for three hours or block social media websites for eight hours.
By eliminating access to all the available fun on the internet, how much more productive do you think you would be?
We receive hundreds of documents, attend dozens of meetings and handle many phone calls with an abundance of new information. The level of information that we are expected to memorize is simply impossible without having additional assistance. By using note keeping systems like Evernote or OneNote, you can take full advantage of a “digital filing cabinet” to efficiently organize the new information you are receiving daily.
Note keeping systems make it easier for you to create daily to-do lists, manage your day-to-day and provide consistent reminders of important events or agenda items that you can not afford to miss.
These apps can also overlap and be used as project management or expensing systems as well. For example, when you are using Evernote, you are able to upload many different file types including PDFs and images, and the system’s optical character recognition technology will automatically scan that image for readable text, add it to your existing Evernote account and allow you to search for the information later. This can be very helpful in various situations such as if you are at a restaurant with a client and want to record the receipt to show your accountant later, you can easily scan and add it to your Evernote account to be dealt with after lunch.
Is accountability a significant challenge for your business? Tracking down which employee owns which project and what the next step in the business process should be can be unproductive and impact your bottom line. To help eliminate finger-pointing and “blame games,” task management apps like Monday and Trello can help you determine which employee is responsible for what and if deadlines are being met.
Task management software allows you to easily track workflows, providing a clear path of accountability and project management. These apps also enable you to track how much time is being spent on each aspect of the project to help your business better understand how much time is required in completing certain tasks or if there is an identifiable bottleneck in the process that you need to quickly address. By improving your understanding of your internal workflows, you can improve processes and find new ways to help reduce the time spent on each task to help maximize your productivity.
For businesses with an available online storefront, manually monitoring leads, purchases and fulfillment can be a daunting process. Fortunately, technology (once again) allows you to automate these important processes and minimizes common cogs in the wheel while simultaneously increasing your bandwidth.Available automation apps like Zapier and Integromat allow you to streamline if/then processes. For example, if a customer purchases something on your website, then, Zapier will automatically establish a task for the fulfillment team, add the customer's contact information to your newsletter distribution list and send out a purchase confirmation.
Do overwhelming activities like answering the phone, scheduling appointments, or filtering through spam calls kill your workflow? For businesses, hiring an in-house receptionist to serve as a gatekeeper or a manager of administrative tasks is of great value. However, hiring another employee in your office may be outside of your budget spend.Fortunately, technology (again) comes to the rescue, especially for businesses interested in outsourcing their customer service inquiries to third parties. Hiring an in-house customer service staff can be expensive, requires time and investment, and subject to high turnover rates whereas outsourcing can help with reducing overhead costs and freeing up time for your staff to focus on revenue-producing work. One outsourcing solution that businesses can use for customer service is 24/7 virtual receptionists. In addition to managing customer service inquiries, outsourced receptionists can also help businesses save time on answering robocalls, capturing and qualifying leads, scheduling appointments with newly captured leads, and building relationships with your existing clients allowing you to focus more on productive work uninterrupted.
Any time you are able to use a system that automates revenue-generating tasks and frees up time means you are able to become more productive. That is why we love chatbots.
Chatbots are a great tool to increase your conversion rates by using AI-powered technology that simplifies life for your customers. Chatbots that easily integrate with your existing workflows and tools, like a CRM, help you gather data, personalize and improve the customer experience and close deals without needing manual interference.
In addition to an improved experience for your customers, chatbots also relieve a burden for your employees. If your staff are responsible for handling chat responsibilities, you are not only losing the time spent on chat. They also have the constant distraction of the chat interruption which makes their productivity more challenging.
With a chatbot, your leads are able to be qualified while your team remains focused on productive work and helping move the business forward in other areas.In short, don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ve all struggled at times with productivity and managing time. Whether you’re using these productivity hacks or reading eBooks on improving business efficiencies, there will always be solutions and information to help your business.
Author: Samir Sampat
Marketing and Events Associate, Smith.ai
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