Let’s face it, there are never going to be more than 24 hours in a day or seven days in a week, except between the pages of a science fiction novel. So, with our working lives getting busier, our to-do lists getting longer, and the demands on our time increasing, the need to stay focused and productive and make the most of our working hours without burning out or becoming side-tracked has never been greater. Unfortunately, the distractions have never been more numerous.
Tempting as it is to be candy crushing when you should be number crunching, tweeting cat gifs when you should be lead-generating, and updating your Facebook status when you should be analyzing sales figures, managing your time effectively is key if you want to stay one step ahead of your competitors. Technology is a blessing, but can also be a curse for business.
Making use of intelligent tools to maximize productivity, streamline processes, and manage projects is one way to work towards better results. There are hundreds of apps and programs out there, all promising to help you get things done quicker and more efficiently, but we’d like to concentrate on a few ideas that we’ve found particularly useful.
Trello is the ultimate project management tool. It allows users to see all tasks relating to a project or projects at a glance. Highly visual, it takes the form of various lists arranged horizontally on a page. Within each list are cards which contain items relating to the project — checklists, images, links, notes, and more. Cards can be dragged and dropped to other lists to record progress, reordered if their priority changes, and be updated by anyone who has access to them on any device. And because Trello updates in real-time, all team members can understand the status of a project from anywhere, avoiding task repetition and costly mistakes.
Clever Checklist is another web-based task management system that enables users to organize and track the progress of tasks. Checklists for each job are created to keep track of everything that needs to be done. Processes, procedures, and policies are documented to show why things are done, and records and forms are produced to show what work was done, when it was done, and by whom. It keeps everything in one place, allowing for easy access and analysis of data and uses a series of customizable templates to make it extremely user-friendly and versatile.
Cyfe is a powerful business data dashboard app that lets you display and monitor all your business and media data and metrics in one place. The beauty of Cyfe is that it can monitor a huge range of information and data — you just add widgets for each aspect of your business that you want to track. Individual departments and multiple websites can be monitored by adding extra dashboards. You can instantly see social media engagement, look at analytics, sales figures, and reports. Your entire business can be tracked in real time. Within an office environment, displaying a team dashboard on a flat panel display to share this information and coordinate projects can be a useful motivator to your teams and help boost productivity.
Staying productive is also about staying organised and managing time effectively, and a calendar app can help with that. Don’t be the white rabbit, always late for that important meeting. Don’t over-schedule. Don’t double-book. If your job involves receiving lots of meeting requests, make sure you block out time on your calendar and encourage your team to do the same so that meetings can be arranged at mutually convenient times. A calendar app can usually allow you to specify free meeting slots so everyone knows when you’re available. Make your team aware of them so everyone’s time can be respected. Everyone’s busy, so the more in sync everyone is with everybody else’s schedule the better.
Mixing work and pleasure
Notifications are the modern enemy of productivity. These days, we all get them constantly on our phones. Emails, texts, reminders, Facebook updates, retweets, mentions, requests to connect on LinkedIn — and it can be difficult to not stop what you’re doing and check them. We do it without even realizing we’re doing it. It’s incredible how much time can be eaten up during the working day while responding to the barrage of non-work-related communications we receive. But there’s a time and a place and it’s important that they don’t distract from the job at hand and affect productivity. If you’re the boss, set an example by putting your personal phone on silent or do not disturb, or even out of sight in your desk drawer. Encourage others to do the same. While many companies are relaxed about allowing employees access to social media sites at work, make it clear that it’s a distraction best avoided until they’re on a break. If you or members of your team have to take personal calls during working hours, take them away from your desk to avoid disturbing others.
Even constantly checking work-related emails is not always a productive use of time. There’s usually no need to check every email as soon it comes in, unless it’s marked important or is directly related to something you’re working on a that moment. Set aside time to work through them at various points throughout the day so that you can concentrate on the task at hand and meet your deadlines. Remember: productive people focus.