Boost productivity when working from home

January 19th, 2016

Productivity_Jan19_AIf you think the idea of working from home sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Since the advent of the Internet, many business owners are open to the adoption of telecommuting, a strategy that allows their employees to work remotely in order to save commuting costs and time while increasing productivity. But of course, working from home can pose a few challenges of its own. In this article we’ll go into details as to how you can work productively at home.

One of the major concerns that business owners have when allowing people to work from home is the limited amount of control they have over their staff. Companies fear that most employees might become unproductive if they become their own boss and are responsible for managing their own hours. While it is easy for remote employees to feel disconnected from work, if you make communication a top priority, telecommuting can actually work wonders.

So have you been given the privilege to work from home? Check out the following tips to ensure a productive day.

Get dressed

It’s important not to dress too casually when working at home. That’s why wearing your pajamas while working can be counterproductive. There’s no need to choose an overly formal attire - like a suit with a tie - but at least wear something comfortable yet presentable that will help you get into a work frame of mind.

Create a focused workspace

Select a workspace that’s neither too comfortable nor uptight. The best method to get into the mindset of ‘going to work’ is to create an environment that allows you to easily focus on the tasks at hand. This can be a room with a door to keep out family members, or simply a space that’s free from all sources of distractions such as your smartphone, snacks, or the television. But in the end, it all comes down to personal preference - do you enjoy working in a clear space, or a cluttered chaos? Would background music distract you or help you concentrate? Do you like working in a bright environment, or prefer a dim area? Take these into consideration before choosing your workspace.

Plan ahead

The secret to working more productively is to have an organized plan of action. Write down the plan so you can prioritize tasks properly and schedule what needs to be done and when it must be completed. Also, it’s always helpful to know your most productive hours. This is so you can schedule your most challenging tasks during those hours and set aside easier ones in your least productive periods.

Stay away from social media

Social media is considered by many as the biggest time and productivity killer. So if your duties don’t involve managing your company’s Twitter account or responding to customers’ requests via Facebook inbox, you should steer clear from these social networking sites. There are many applications out there that allow you to block social media websites and notifications, but of course you wouldn’t have to resort to such measures if you can exert some self-control and discipline.

Invest in technology

Another thing to consider about working from home is the technology to help you work easier, such as a second monitor. Sometimes you will also need certain tools to stay connected to your company, clients, and colleagues. These tools may include but are not limited to web conferencing software, document sharing applications, or screen sharing programs.

These tips will turn your home into an office that will keep your working hours productive and disciplined throughout the day. If you’re looking to implement IT solutions that will encourage a more productive work environment, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
January 14th, 2016

Productivity_Nov30_AWe all experience those days where we feel like we’ve been super productive and have managed to check off a bunch of tasks from our to-do list. But if you feel like these days are few and far between and you’d like to up the ante on a more consistent basis, it’s time to adopt a new approach to productivity. Whether you need to get organized in your personal or working life, laying down ground rules for yourself and considering the following tips could work wonders.

When it comes to business, competition is fiercer than ever: you might have rivals undercutting your prices, you could be a bricks and mortar store pressurized by internet-based sellers, or perhaps you’re struggling to get a grip on your processes, marketing plans or even employees. By upping your efficiency stakes, working in a more agile fashion, and simply getting more work done more quickly, you could find that you’re holding the key to solving your problems.

Your issues with productivity might be personal, or they may well stem from your staff. As a small or medium-sized business owner or manager, you can’t afford to sit back and let your own inertia or disorganization, or your employees’ lack of dynamism, drag your company down. Take action and start getting to grips with your workload and help your business get 2016 off to a far more efficient start.

Take time out first thing

Okay, admittedly taking ‘time out’ sounds counterintuitive for increasing productivity, but hear us out. By taking a few minutes at the start of every morning, you’ll be getting the day off to a calm and orderly start, thereby increasing the chances of you being more productive, as opposed to running around like the proverbial headless chicken for the rest of the day.

Part mindfulness and part preparation, begin by emptying your head of any thoughts. Be in the moment and spend a minute or two breathing deeply. Next, consider the things most playing on your mind in relation to what needs to be done either today or in the near future. Jot them down on a piece of paper, followed with a short outline on how you are going to tackle them. Then set your mind to going forth and making those resolutions happen, one by one.

Quit multitasking

Some reports say that multitasking can negatively impact on your productivity by as much as 40 percent. When we’re taking on more than one task at a time, the perception is that we’re killing it productivity wise and getting loads done. The reality is that we’re spending the majority of the time jumping from one thing to the next and not fully focusing on any of them.

You need to exercise willpower to commit to ‘singletasking’ but before long it should come as second nature. Pick one thing that you are going to work on and stick to it until you have finished, or at least done everything you can for the time being. This includes not checking your email during that time – surely one of the biggest productivity sappers of all time. If the temptation is too strong, log out of your inbox on your computer, and set your phone to silent if you have audible alerts configured. If you’re worried you’re going to overlook something during this time period, use an online or physical notepad to note down spur of the moment thoughts or ideas.

Reassess your working hours

It’s no secret that the traditional 9 to 5 is on the way out. Being connected and contactable around the clock is putting paid to that, but is being constantly online actually counterproductive? How effective are you really at 11pm at night when you’re slumped in front of The Walking Dead with a beer and a spreadsheet full of data?

Take a tip from the latest round of startups that are taking a sledgehammer to the idea that we need to work around the clock, and are instead turning the working week on its head. The CEO of one rising startup has gone as far to institute a five-hour workday that runs from just 8am to 1pm, taking into account that studies show people are more productive earlier in the day. The theory goes that making people sit in an office for 8 hours a day, whilst giving them ample time to be productive, equally gives them just as many hours to waste time. A shorter working day could instill a greater sense of urgency in employees, who in turn respect the company’s consideration of their personal lives and work harder.

Depending on your business, changing your working hours may not be practical, but it could still be food for thought - and adopting a singletasking approach and planning your day ahead calmly and clearly is achievable and will never hurt.

If you’d like to find out how implementing better IT and more efficient procedures can help you beat the productivity blues, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
December 25th, 2015

Productivity_Dec25_AIs there anything worse than an unproductive meeting? The feeling of those minutes and even hours slipping by you as you sit ‘brainstorming’ with co-workers, only to leave the room with a big fat nothing. The frustrating part is that, when run effectively, meetings can result in great ideas, and can add huge value to your company. But how do you make that shift from pointless meetings to productive ones? That’s where Do.com comes in. Here’s how to make the change in your organization.

We all know that an unproductive meeting is bad for business. Wasted minutes turn into wasted hours, and wasted hours turn into wasted days - and so on. Not using any of your team’s time effectively - whether they are the COO or the receptionist - is a big waste of money, simple as that. On the other hand, you know that meetings are essential for regrouping, hashing out new processes, gathering feedback, brainstorming marketing strategies, and simply touching base. But if, over the years, your company’s meeting culture has gone from energetic and idea-generating to stale, uninspiring, and - dare we say it - downright pointless, it can be hard to turn that around.

The good news is that there is a way to swing the pendulum back in the other direction, so that you can begin holding meetings that are productive and, crucially, that STAY productive. And that’s by using a software platform called Do.com. Do’s purpose is to help companies of all sizes start running more productive meetings, and it has already been adopted by well-known clients, including tech giants Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Do aims to help make meetings enjoyably productive, too – after all, whether we’re a high flyer at Microsoft or the owner of a local law firm or beauty salon, we all feel good when we are contributing something useful. So, if you’ve noticed that, every time a meeting is held in your workplace, a groaning line of worker ants clutching iPads and notepads heads begrudgingly towards the meeting room, this could be your chance to turn things around and re-energize your employees. If you do it properly, you’ll get some great ideas for moving your business forward at the same time. It’s a win-win situation!

So what does Do actually DO to make meetings more motivating and productive? For a start, it helps structure them more effectively, so that more time is spent getting to the point and less time is spent discussing weekend plans, or moaning about other departments or staff. Do gives you the tools to properly manage agendas, notes and actions, as well as allowing you to share files that are needed for discussion. It also features a timer, which turns red if you overrun, so that you can set limits as to the amount of time devoted to a topic – ideal for reigning in those debates that go round in circles but never actually end up getting anywhere.

The founder of Do, Jason Shah, has stated that his goals with the platform are to “bring three central themes to every meeting: structure, transparency, and automation.” To help facilitate this, Do is geared to bringing an agenda to meetings, thus putting the end to directionless and ill-prepared attendees. It allows the meeting organizer to easily import notes from previous meetings, and upload relevant files or documents. This is something that will save huge amounts of time in the average workplace, where meetings are generally accompanied by a shuffling of notes and people going to print out forgotten documents, or to email the group mid-meeting. That’s probably not the kind of thing that Steve Jobs tolerated with any degree of patience!

Do also prioritizes eliminating the “so what do I need to do again?” factor that so often follows meetings, by centralizing information pertaining to the subject, as well as highlighting follow-ups and outcomes. The software prompts the meeting organizer to assign discussed tasks to a specific person, who then receives an email and push notification outlining the task, as well as a link to a dedicated meeting page, where further information can be found.

With other features that aid prioritization of tasks, plus analytics that give managers an overview of how their team, department, and indeed the whole company are spending their time in meetings, it’s little wonder that Do’s client list boasts some pretty high-profile companies. As well as Apple et al, other adopters of the platform range from social media big-hitters Facebook and Twitter to other tech clients including Dropbox and Salesforce. Consumer platforms, such as Netflix, Spotify, Uber and Airbnb, are also onboard - as are Disney, Domino’s Pizza, the NBA, and certain sectors of the US government.

It’s probably safe to say that these clients like the way that Do.com can be integrated with other tools and software such as Office 365, Google Drive and Docs, and Evernote. In fact, Do even considers its competitors to include other cloud-based productivity platform providers like Google Apps, Evernote, Dropbox, and Trello. However, Do.com has the edge on all of those by virtue of its meeting-centric approach. You may use Google Docs to work on a task after a meeting, but Do.com walks you through the whole process, from agenda to follow-up and subsequent meetings.

Although adopted by major players such as Apple, Google and Disney, Do.com is for use by companies of any size – including yours! If you want to learn more about productivity, including how to install the tools and how to instill the culture within your company, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
October 20th, 2015

164_A_ProdTechnology can bring a world of productivity and ease to your business, but it also comes with many disadvantages. If you don’t use technology wisely, it can become a constant distraction that prevents your business from moving forward. So how can you use technology more effectively? And what are the IT issues that are holding you back? Let’s look at four of them.

Broken Flow

To grow your business, boost profits, and create a valuable product that people will love, you need to develop an extreme amount of focus. Psychology refers to a process known as Flow, where the brain gets into a positive psychological state and people not only become incredibly productive and creative, but also perform at their best. They achieve both quicker and higher-quality results. In fact, a study by the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company revealed that top executives were five times more productive when they were in a state of flow. So what does this have to do with IT? Technology that constantly breaks or malfunctions will prevent you and your employees from getting into a state of flow.

Distraction

Let’s face it, broken technology is a distraction for many small to medium-sized business owners and their employees. And between the daily onslaught of internal email, social media, and meetings, staff are already distracted enough. If you throw faulty internet connections and servers into this equation, it obviously makes the problem even worse. One researcher from the University of California even found that once an employee is interrupted from their original task, it can take around 23 minutes for them to return to it. That adds up to not only a whole lot of wasted time, but also wasted money. Do your business, yourself, and your employees a favor: get your technology working seamlessly, because it’s one less distraction for your staff to deal with. An MSP can help.

Lack of expertise

People are most productive when they focus on what they do best. If your staff is not equipped to handle your IT problems, they shouldn’t be dealing with them. And if IT issues are killing your productivity on a daily basis, then your tech department is likely understaffed or not knowledgeable or effective enough to handle your problems. This is where an MSP can come in. MSPs focus on cleaning up IT issues for dozens of companies day in, day out. This is all they do, and that means they are specialists. So why not hand off the chore of technology to someone who knows what they’re doing? Then you can focus on what you do best: managing, leading, and growing your business.

Email

As already mentioned, email is undoubtedly a distraction that is a bane for many modern-day businesses. Email can consume you and your employees’ day if you let it. So doesn’t it make sense to try and get it under control? A few ways you can do that include checking your email only at specific times of the day, unsubscribing from email lists that you don’t often use, and signing up for email and spam protection with your local MSP - who can help you keep the unnecessary emails out of you and your employees’ inboxes.

If you’re interested in learning how an MSP can help resolve your technology problems, get in touch with our experts today. We have a staff of seasoned professionals who have the singular focus of making your technology run seamlessly. And we’re ready to help your business become more productive.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
September 15th, 2015

Productivity_Sep14_AWe’re all in the same boat - a million and one things to get done, and seemingly never enough hours in the day to fit them all in. But technology can come to your aid and, by using the best productivity tools you can find, you’ll add valuable minutes and hours to your workday. That all adds up, and you’ll quickly discover there’s more time to squeeze in the strategic tasks that so often fall by the wayside, but which are so crucial to defining the future direction of your business. Here are four tools to start using if you’re not already.

Google Alerts

Every business wants to keep track of what others are saying about it and, in this modern age where the likes of blogs and social media rule the roost, it’s more important than ever before. In an ideal world you’ll pick up on positive references to your company, and will be able to share these to enhance your good name further. But of course, every so often even the world’s best companies suffer a blip, and in those scenarios reputation management becomes a question of damage limitation, proactively responding to negative feedback, and putting right what harm has already been caused.

Yet doing all that manually is a real time-drain, if not next to impossible to do effectively - just think of all the websites you would have to scroll through to check for mentions of your company’s name, all the while knowing you’ve not even really scratched the surface. Thankfully Google Alerts relieves the pain of this crucial task; the tool allows you to set up alerts for specific terms, and receive an email notification when something crops up that you ought to know about. It can save you hours and enable you to do more justice to your reputation management efforts than you considered feasible.

Chrome to Mobile

If you’re like the vast majority of modern business people, you’re never sat at your desk for very long. That means you’re not always able to use your desktop computer, and probably have to do what you can to make the most of time spent traveling, between meetings and so on. Yet truly being productive during those down periods necessitates having access to the same materials you have when you’re in the office; that way, you’re actually contributing to clearing your overall to-do list rather than just picking a random task to work on so that you’re at least getting something done.

The Chrome to Mobile extension for Google’s signature web browser allows you to quickly transmit to your phone all the web pages you’re currently viewing on your desktop or laptop. When you’re away from your desk, you can pick up right where you left off without any interruption - no more emailing yourself links to everything you’re working on, and then having to open it all afresh on your phone or tablet. If you know you’re going to be away from a reliable internet connection for a while, you can even opt to send an offline version of those pages, so you can continue working regardless. You just need to have a mobile device that runs Android 4.0 or later, or have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch that has Chrome installed.

Pocket

The inclination to keep too many tabs open in your web browser is practically a chronic condition among business professionals, symptomatic of us trying to get too much done in too little time, and never really finishing one task before moving onto the next. Whatever the cause, it’s something lots of us have to deal with every day; we all stumble across news articles, blogs and other online resources that are infinitely useful to us, but which we don’t have the time to stop and act on there and then.

Pocket solves that problem - this simple tool allows you to save content that you find online to one central place, so that you can go back to it with ease when the time is right. It will save you from needing to keep those hundreds of tabs open until you have a spare moment to go back and plough through your reading list (or more likely until you decide is enough is enough, and close all the tabs to stop them slowing down your computer any further - and in the process you lose all that valuable information without keeping a copy).

Rescue Time

If you’ve ever wondered how much time you waste between tasks while you’re reading your email, updating your social media, checking the news and so forth, then Rescue Time could be the answer to your curiosity - even if you might not actually want to know the truth! Once you activate Rescue Time on your devices, it will track how long you spend not only on different websites but also in the various computer software applications that you use on a day-to-day basis - whether that’s Microsoft Word, Photoshop or Sage.

This helpful little program sends you a regular email report detailing how many hours you’ve logged in total - discovering how long you routinely sit at your computer can be revealing in itself - along with a breakdown of the percentage of time spent on various work- and non-work-related tasks, and an overall ranking for your productivity. It even sets you goals, for example to spend less than two hours a day on what it classes as non-productive activities (which you can customize to suit your line of work, since it’s hardly fair to penalize yourself for being on Facebook if that’s a key part of your job).

Are you ready to use these tools, and other intelligent technology, to streamline your workflow and get more out of your day? Give us a call and see how we can help you put IT at the forefront of a more efficient approach to business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity