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5 Things to Consider if You Want to Stay Competitive

5 Things to Consider if You Want to Stay Competitive


    Whether you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or manager, you have to pay attention to the business landscape and your place in it if you want to be successful. You don’t want to get caught languishing by the side of the road as the rest of the marketplace rushes by you. It’s important to assess where you are now and how you can maintain, regain, or create a competitive edge over the crowd.

    What You Need to Consider

    1. Branding

    What do you do and what sets you apart?

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    Branding is the buzzword of the day, maybe the decade. Though possibly overused, the concept is still an important one. Branding is far more than a memorable tag-line, catchy logo, or impressive elevator speech. The primary value of branding is in clarifying precisely what makes you different, what you have to offer that makes you stand out from the bulk of competitors in the marketplace. Branding is the cornerstone of any successful marketing plan.

    2. Relationships

    What do people care about and what needs do they have?

    Getting to know and understand people is vital. The key is to focus on quality over quantity. Masses of social media connections matter less than relationships with people who can directly influence the success or failure of the business. Current and prospective customers, as well as employees and professional connections have the most relevant opinions and useful feedback to offer. It’s imperative to communicate, listen, and build relationships with those who can impact the future of your business.

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    3. Leveraging

    What are your areas of efficiency and areas of weakness?

    Small businesses and entrepreneurs tend to be resource poor. It’s just the nature of not having a large cash flow at their disposal. The most successful excel at squeezing the maximum value out of available time, money, and talent. Their strategy is to do what they do best and delegate or outsource the rest. Essentially, they know how to Do More with Less.

    They spend their time on activities that provide more value, those activities that increase revenue or help the company to grow. What they don’t do is waste their time on activities that provide little or no value. While it may seem counter-intuitive to pay others to do tasks that could be done in house, it’s often more efficient and profitable in the long run. Leveraging unproductive activities saves time and money, by increasing the focus on the most valuable tasks.

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    4. Growth

    Where are the opportunities for growth?

    Complacency and stagnation are red flags that portend a grim outlook for future success. The danger lies in placing so much of our focus on digging in, completing current projects and managing small crises that we forget to be open to change and creative innovation. Unfortunately, this negatively affects our position in the business market and diminishes our competitive advantage.

    It’s critical to keep one eye focused on growth, evolution, and innovation. If you don’t, you will fade into the crowd while other more forward thinking businesses surge ahead, leaving you in their dust. This sounds overwhelming and somewhat intimidating when you barely have enough time and energy to focus on current needs, but it doesn’t have to be. All that’s really required is that you stay open to new opportunities and consistently take steps — even small ones — to keep growing and moving forward.

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    Growth takes many forms. It might be revising an existing process, updating skills, investing in new equipment or learning a new technology. It also might take the form of more significant changes such as shifting careers or business models, or launching a new product or service.

    5. Balance

    What do you need? What are you neglecting? What would make you work and life more enjoyable?

    Balancing priorities and the different aspects of our life is the foundation for building a successful and personally fulfilling career or business. Modern society is buzzing with the work-life balance conversation, but often we misconstrue the meaning of balance, or at least the real world application of the concept. It’s not about trying to allot equal portions of attention, time, and energy to the separate parts or even making one a priority over the other. It’s more about discovering that right combination of shifting importance and focus that can meet the ever-changing demands of work life and personal life while still leaving us feeling happy and fulfilled, and not on society’s terms, but on our own.

    Success and fulfillment requires that we pay attention to where we are, how we’re doing, and where we’d like to be. If we can figure out what sets us apart, how we need to grow and what we need to do to keep moving forward, then we can begin to apply our focus and resources – namely time, energy and money – in a way that allows us to continue to thrive.

    (Photo credit: Businessman Moving Chess Pieces via Shutterstock)

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    Royale Scuderi

    A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

    How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

    We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

    So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

    While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

    Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

    What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

    How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

    But what does being productive actually entail?

    Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

    Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

    It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

    Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

    9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

    1. Avoid Multitasking

    Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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    Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

    If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

    2. Turn off Notifications

    According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

    Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

    The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

    Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

    3. Manage Interruptions

    There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

    Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

    If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

    By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

    4. Eat the Frog

    Mark Twain once famously said that:

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    “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

    What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

    We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

    Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

    5. Cut Down on Meetings

    Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

    You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

    The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

    But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

    If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

    6. Utilize Tools

    Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

    If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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    And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

    Some examples of tools that could be used:

    Communication
    • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
    • Samepage for video conference software.
    • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
    Task Management
    • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
    • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
    • Wekan for an open source option.
    Database Management
    Time Tracking
    • Clockify for a free tracker.
    • TMetric for workspace integrations.
    • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

    You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

    7. Declutter and Organize

    Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

    Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

    Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

    Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

    8. Take Breaks

    Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

    As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

    Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

    Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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    9. Drink Water

    Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

    Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

    Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

    A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

    If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

    You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

    The Bottom Line

    The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

    After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

    In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

    A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

    Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    More About Boosting Productivity

    Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

    Reference

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