Peripheral Visions

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Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

3 Ways to Ensure a Productive Staff Meeting

Whether you manage a group of people, or you are part of an organization that is managed, productivity is always at the root of making effective collaborations. Staff meetings are one of the few times when managers and employees can get together and communicate about the goals and objectives of the weekly workload. Unfortunately, many staff meetings are wasted, or poorly run due to lack of organization or preparation. Here are tips to help you prepare for your staff meeting more effectively to benefit you and your staff’s time.

  • Collaborate about meeting objectives in advance: When possible, meet with employees, managers, and administrative personnel well before the meeting. Many managers make the mistake of waiting until the last minute before the staff meeting to ask if anyone has information, issues or content to add to the meeting. This makes for lack of complete information for the meeting, as well as ill-prepared staff members that feel put on the spot. Consider sending out an email a few days before the staff meeting, asking all parties involved if they have content to add to this week’s staff meeting.

  • Prepare an agenda: While this seems like a simple no-brainer tip, in fact, many managers don’t do this and it results in staff meetings that run over time, off topic, and in general use the collaboration time ineffectively. Plan you agenda with highlights of what you’d like to speak about, what was discussed at the last meeting, and what will carry over to the next meeting. This will help the meeting stay on topic, and will help buffer in time to go longer on more important topics, and less on minor ones.  If needed, ask an administrative person to help you prepare the agenda in conjunction with the meeting objectives in the first tip.
  • Use the staff meetings to talk and listen: Many employees dread staff meetings because they feel like it’s only an opportunity for management to tell them information, and to be “scolded”. Staff meetings should be looked at as a mini team building time, when management and employees alike are able to talk freely back and forth. Exchanging ideas, as well as voicing concerns, and coming up with remedies should be the goal and objective for all parties involved.  Consider setting aside a portion of the staff meeting for an open discussion time, or provide office hours in which management will freely listen to employees who may want to address concerns in private.

The next staff meeting should be regarded as valuable and necessary time, set aside to “get current” on the management and employees alike. Consider asking staff members outside of the meetings, what they would like to see added or detracted from the meetings to make them more effective. Staff meetings don’t have to be dreaded, they just need to be respectful of the time of all parties involved.

Categories: Business Tips

Does Your Small Business Need Document Management Software?

If you run a large or medium sized business, then odds are you use reliable software to help you manage your company documents. But what about a small business? Is there a need for document management software?  If you own or manage a small business and are trying to decide if you do, indeed, need software to help you manage your documents, there are a few things about your company’s structure and document use that can make your decision easier.

Document management software is design to make creating, using and sharing your company’s documents easier. Most software programs are easy to use and fairly intuitive, taking most of the guess work and deep programming needs out of managing your documents.  But just because it adds ease to creating, managing and sharing documents doesn’t mean that this type of software is a good fit for you.

Number of employees accessing documents

If your company only has one or two employees who access company documents, then you may not need document software. A small number of people creating, using and sharing documents is easy to manage. Odds are they are within the same department and can easily communicate with one another when it comes to any documents that they may be creating or altering.

Even if your company is small, there may be a lot of people accessing company documents. If this is the case, then using document management software can go a long way to ensuring that documents don’t get lost or document templates aren’t accidently changed. Document sharing is also easier to keep track of with document software in place.

Number of documents being used

Another thing to consider is the number of different documents that your company uses. If your documents department is constantly creating new documents, or changing the template on current documents, then you could benefit from using document management software. A key element of the software is the ease with which you can create and change templates.  Whether it’s the wording, dates or company logo, you can update your documents effortlessly and also make sure that all employees are using the most up to date version. Without document software this can be frustrating and not 100% successful. Depending on what is being changed, it can actually cost your company money or clients if the wrong version of a document is being sent out.

Number of documents per document package

If your company sends out document packages, then software that helps you manage those packages can be invaluable. If you regularly send out packages of documents to employees, clients, other businesses or potential customers, then you want those packages to be as professional as possible. If you are amassing your package from individual documents from different company departments, then there could be variations in font, spacing, tabs and margins. With document management software you can present a uniformed appearance to your document package without having to go in and manually change everything.  This can save you valuable time when preparing company documentation. It can also ensure that everything is, indeed, uniform and small differences aren’t overlooked. Regardless of the document type you can have the packages looking highly professional and pleasing to the eye.

Not all companies need document management software. If your company is small, the purchase of such software may not be worth it. But if you are a small business yet you have a large number of employees accessing your documents or if there are a large number of documents in use, then document software can be an invaluable asset to your small company.

Kevin Harris is a freelance writer for Adobe.  Adobe software, such as document management software, and services revolutionize how the world engages with ideas and information; anytime, anywhere, and through any medium.  They also offer many other services like elearning.

Categories: Business Tips

10 Ways to Be More Productive at the Office

Ever wonder why you can fit 100 tasks into a Saturday, but can only manage to do 5 on a work day? Most likely you are able to be productive when its tasks that are important to you. At the office, distractions, phone calls and boredom get you off track and thus lead to being unproductive. Here are 10 ways to help you be more productive and leave the office feeling good about your daily accomplishments.

1.) Clean your desk: If you can’t find anything on your desk, you will spend more time searching for your work than doing it. Spend a few hours and clean it up, you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel.

2.) Simplify your email inbox: Checking your inbox and sorting through the junk can easily take up thirty to sixty minutes of your day. Most all email clients give you the option to create filters / alerts to pro-actively sort your inbound messages. Create filters / alerts for messages from certain individuals or for certain types of messages of a lower priority (newsletters, so you can focus on messages from customers, vendors or superiors.

3.) Stay on a schedule: Although unplanned office duties arise, for the most part you need to create a schedule on a calendar and stick to it. Consider syncing your work computer to your smart phone to keep the same schedule, alerts and appointments all at hand. Talk to your boss about getting a time tracking program to help you stay focused through out the day. Check out for a free 30-day trial.

4.) Arrive at work earlier: Most people are able to be more productive when they don’t have coworkers and other office distractions disturbing them. If you get to work 1 hour earlier, you can use this time for planning, sorting, cleaning, so when your coworkers arrive, you can hit the ground running.

5.) Keep meetings to a minimum: If you scheduled a staff meeting, stick to an allotted amount of time and respect your attendees’ time as well. Determine if some meetings can be handled with a webinar or by phone instead of at a remote location that involves everyone driving and taking up more time.

6.) Ask for help: If you have a big deadline, or feel overwhelmed ask for assistance. Your boss or coworkers may be able to divide/share in the workload to ensure it meets the deadline.

7.) Schedule short breaks: Throughout your day, get up from your desk and walk around and get fresh air. Your brain and body work better when they are revived periodically.

8.) Assess yourself: Everyone works differently. If you know you’re most productive first thing in the morning – then handle your most difficult assignments at that time. You will be more efficient when you work on your own terms.

9.) Set personal goals: Keep yourself motivated by setting your own goals. “If I finish this task, I can go to lunch earlier and avoid the lunch rush” for example.

10.) Be your own cheerleader: Leave your workday each day congratulating yourself on what you accomplished. For items you didn’t finish, come up with a new plan tomorrow.

You can leave your job happier and arrive at the job ready to work when you develop a system for productivity. Try these 10 tips and see how much work you get done during the week now! Have any other tips? Be sure to share your comments below.

Categories: Business Tips

Productivity Tips To Be More Efficient

Do you struggle with balancing your work productivity on a daily basis? Have too much to do and not enough hours in the day to get everything done? Well I put together a short list of ways we stay focused and on track throughout the day. A philosophy that I live by and recommend is to prioritize your monthly, weekly and daily tasks by the “ROI” they will bring to the company. Keep a Google Spreadsheet (or Excel for you late adapters) that has your monthly (if applicable), weekly and certainly daily “to dos” organized by due date and priority level. Complete the tasks that will create the most value first and move down the list, of course paying attention to deadlines. Here are some of my basic productivity tips to help free up extra time to focus on the important tasks!

E-Mail Productivity Tips

Depending on your company policies this productivity tip may or may not work for you. But I recommend having your web mail opened in a separate browser (Safari for me). The only tab I have open on this browser is my Gmail account. I keep the browser minimized throughout the day and allow myself to maximize Safari every two hours to check if I have emails. Then if I do have emails (I utilize a wide array of filters and labels to prioritize email automatically, but that is a separate discussion), I make a quick mental evaluation of their importance based on subject line and sender. If the email can be answered in 120 seconds or less I answer it. If not, I add a flag and set it aside. Then at the end of the day I set aside 10 minutes of my day to go back and answer any emails that require a greater amount of my attention (unless they are time sensitive of course). This process alone will save a great deal of time in your day. If you use a desktop based email client the concept is the same, you can have it open (but minimized) throughout the day.

Computer Productivity Tips

Computers are a great for improving productivity but if misused or rather not fully understood they can be quite a nuisance. I was fortunate enough to learn a large amount of shortcuts growing up, but I know that not everyone had that luxury so first things first is to learn the shortcuts that can save you time. When you aren’t at work one day fire up the laptop and master the following keyboard shortcuts; shortcuts for your work computer’s OS, shortcuts to the top 5 or 7 software programs you use at work,  shortcuts on your preferred web browser and email client (work-related of course). This sounds like a lot to learn and while unfortunately there isn’t a common “keyboard shortcut” language per say there is certainly commonality across the board.  I won’t go into the keyboard commands themselves as I’m sure there are thousands of keyboard shortcut guides out there for nearly every software program. Now after you are comfortable with keyboard shortcuts, test your new skills; boot up your computer and then unplug you mouse. See if you can navigate through your OS, operate your favorite software programs and browse the internet without a mouse. You will catch on before you know it!

Lets take a quick look at the time you can save by using keyboard shortcuts.

On average it takes about 3 seconds (my own testing) to maneuver the mouse to a menu pull down and select your action. I typically call upon a menu action on average 15 times per hour. Using the mouse would take me  6 minutes (3 sec x 15 reps x 8 hours) a day or 30 minutes (360 sec x 5 ) every week. In terms of the work year that is 25 hours (30 minutes x 50 weeks) of my life that I would have spent using the mouse to perform a routine task.  Now if you learn your keyboard shortcuts, I guarantee you could perform the same functions in half the time, which has saved me 12.5 hours in this occurrence!

Time Management Productivity Tips

Managing time, isn’t that what being productive is all about? Well isn’t it difficult to manage your time if you are unsure how long it takes you to complete certain tasks on average? There are two web apps (both of which have free versions) that help you monitor and manage the time you allocate and spend on daily tasks. The first is called RescueTime. ResuceTime is a web app that monitors and records your computer activity and then presents you with daily and weekly grades on the use of your time. It is a very useful web app for learning precisely where your day goes on a holistic level. The pro accounts offer other tracking non-computer related activities and a “focus setting” which blocks certain websites or programs from being opened until a certain task has been completed.  The other web app for tracking a more specific task level basis, called Toggl. Although Toggl was created with freelancers in mind it is a great time management tool. Say your boss wants to know how much of your day is spent working on certain reports, well now you can tell them with certainty. Before you open your report simply create a quick task in Toggl and hit the red button to start the timer and it will start tracking (0nly catch is you need to remember to stop the timer)! So those are two free and easy web applications to help you improve productivity by better understanding where your time is spent.

Telephone Productivity Tips

I tend to get a mixed reaction when I share my telephone productivity tips as some say my suggestions don’t follow proper phone etiquette. However I disagree with my naysayers and argue that when used in a work-environment there is nothing wrong with my minimalistic approach at telephone usage. When someone calls my work line, I typically answer with one of two greetings; “Hello, This is Jeff” or “Hello, This is Jeff, how can I help you.” The goal of these two greetings is to eliminate un-productive conversation that typically occurs.

Call Recipient: “Hello”
Dialer: “Hi is Jeff there”
Call Recipient: “This is Jeff”
Dialer: “Hi Jeff, this is Bob, how are you doing”?
Call Recipient: “Hi Bob, I’m doing fine thanks for asking, how are you”?
Dialer: “Great, the reason for my call today is…”

What is even worse is if the dialer would have actually elaborated on how they are doing. Then you have entered into an entirely different  situation that expands outside the reach of this post! You may be scrutinized as being cold or un-social but politely inform them that you are just efficient.

Internet Productivity Tips

Similar to the computer productivity tips, I won’t go into great detail here but I will highlight a couple of key points. Now that you know not to check your e-mail every 15 minutes the same holds true for visiting your favorite websites or social networking sites. You aren’t missing anything and it will still be there for you to check over lunch or after work (same goes for links shared through email).  If you are in fact “addicted” to checking certain sites, consider adding them to the restriction list in RescueTime. The other productivity tip is to make good use of your keyboard shortcuts when working on the web. Make good use of bookmarks and your browser toolbar plug-ins and other ways to save you a trip to the search engine.  If you don’t have your passwords automatically saved, that needs to change. Either use your browser or if you are concerned about safety use a third party like KeyPass to manage your passwords. 

Okay, now STOP reading this, order your printer supplies and get back to being more productive :)

Categories: Business Tips

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