Whether the projects in your small business involve just you or a much larger team, chances are you would like to get more done in less time. A recent survey* from email company Constant Contact found that 65% of small business owners report that having enough time to get everything done in their company is a top concern.
Since no one can manufacture more time, the only way to streamline project management is to eliminate tasks and habits that waste your time. Use the following information to identify the common productivity “chinks” in your company armor and make necessary changes.
1. Too many long meetings
Meetings present an amazing opportunity for collaboration, information sharing and collective problem solving. They also have the potential to be the enemy of productivity. Consider dramatically reducing the length of company meetings, starting by cutting meeting times in half. Make one-hour meetings 30 minutes, for example, and you may be surprised at how much you get done. An effective means of reducing meeting times is to require anyone hosting a meeting to announce its purpose, the desired outcome and the expected length of time the meeting should take. Develop company discipline for “tabling or parking lot-ing” any item that is raised that could derail the meeting.
2. Lack of technology
Equipping yourself and your team with the tools you need to get more done in less time typically pays off many times over. Smartphones, shared calendars and up-to-date point of sale systems can make a huge difference in how your team manages and completes projects. Other time-saving technologies include scanners for facilitating the exchange of contracts and documents and mobile apps for keeping up with business tasks away from the office. If your team computers are out of date, consider investing in reliable and speedy systems that will support greater productivity.
Reliable, speedy Internet access is the foundation of a solid technology support system. Given the dependence of most companies on Internet access to facilitate everything from email, to inventory checks, and ordering, fast Internet speed is key. Be sure your Internet service supports all of your business activity.
3. Tech problems
Slowdowns due to technology issues are a major time eater in most small companies. Whether it is a chronic problem that doesn’t get resolved or a crisis that crops up unexpectedly, technical issues can eat away at your daily productivity.
Address this issue by securing a good technical resource that can quickly and efficiently fix technical problems as they arise. There are many online services that can offer remote diagnostic and repair along with on-site visits. This attention to technology will pay off in increased productive time and less frustration.
4. Lack of skills
When you or your team lacks the skills required to complete tasks quickly, productivity slips. Given this, it pays to invest in training. With the dramatic increase in online training of all kinds, you can keep yourself and your team up to speed on the skills required to quickly and efficiently complete tasks and remain productive. Set goals for training to keep yourself committed—for example, twice a year or once a quarter.
5. Too much office time
Consider allowing employees to work remotely so that they have concentrated time to complete tasks it may be difficult to complete at your place of business. More than half of business decision makers in a recent Staples survey** reported that allowing employees to work remotely can help with productivity.
A review of time-wasting activities can net surprising results. Most companies can stand to improve time management and remove impediments to productivity. Start your assessment today.
*Constant Contact, “Small Businesses: Then and Now Survey,” May 2013
**2013 Staples Advantage survey
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