Category Archives: Business Tips

5 Ways to Measure Remote Employee Productivity

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remote employee productivity

There are countless statistics claiming that remote employee productivity is greater than its in-office alternative. For example, one study published not long into the pandemic claimed as much as a 47% increase in productivity thanks to remote work.

The question is, how do you know that your team has increased their productivity by half? How can you measure the effectiveness of a remote team — at least, how can you do so without becoming an invasive, micromanaging boss?

If you’re interested in monitoring your team’s productivity without compromising their independence and empowerment, here are some tips to help you out.

1. Set Clear Expectations

Expectations are key. If you don’t know what you’re expecting, you can’t judge if something is productive. In a workspace as asynchronous as remote work, personal interactions are few and far between. In that setting, expectations take the place of overseeing an in-office workforce.

Even when you’re operating in person, it’s essential that you communicate how you expect a project or activity to go. If you’re in the same physical space, though, you have the opportunity to update, add to, and even tweak expectations as you go along.

When your workers are laboring in isolation, they often complete a project — or at least put significant effort into it — before their productivity is ever considered. As global HR solution Remote points out, clear, detailed expectations set from the beginning of a project are necessary when managing remote teams. It ensures that everyone starts on the same page and is oriented toward the same end goal.

2. Utilize OKRs

There are many ways to break down expectations. Standard options include setting clear objectives and utilizing KPIs (key performance indicators) to make productivity measurable.

However, one of the best productivity measurement tools out there is OKRs. OKRs (which stand for “objectives and key results”) is a goal-setting methodology that approaches productivity from a holistic perspective. Rather than just saying, “There’s the finish line. Find a way to get there!” OKRs consider both the final objective that you’re working toward and the critical results required to accomplish it. In essence, this brings both goals and milestones together into one shiny package.

OKRs are powerful productivity motivators. They tie goals to day-to-day work and make it much easier to evaluate if work is getting done. For example, if you just set a goal, you may have to wait days or even weeks to see if an employee has accomplished that task on time. With OKRs, you can measure results as you go along.

3. Track Outcomes

It’s tempting to value time over output. That is always a bad idea when remote work is involved. Even if you ask your employees to report time spent working “on the honor system,” you still don’t know what that time looks like. Instead, focus on the deliverables that come from your employees’ overtime.

Every project has deliverables. Those might be a clear, defined item, such as a piece of content or a prototype of a new piece of hardware. However, it could also come from the work process itself. For instance, if you train someone for a position, the deliverable manifests through the learning experience.

Regardless of the project at hand, it’s important to identify the deliverables involved. This gives you an objective way to measure the success or failure of something. For example, you can consider the outcome of an employee’s work, compare it to the expectation (which should be clearly defined), and then decide if they are productive.

4. Use Employee Feedback

Internal feedback is an invaluable resource. Whether it’s recurring questionnaires, real-time opinions, or exit interviews, receiving input from your team can be a powerful refining tool.

It can also indirectly help with tracking productivity, as well. Have your employees fill out surveys asking for honest, anonymous feedback about their coworkers from time to time. This isn’t an opportunity for employees to snitch on one another. On the contrary, make sure to provide questions that don’t evoke charged responses.

For instance, don’t include a question like “Is employee X productive?” Instead, try phrasing the inquiry, “What are one strength and one weakness of employee X?”

This won’t give you a direct way to measure productivity. Nevertheless, it can yield valuable insight into each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, including how productive they are as seen by their coworkers.

5. Ask for Asynchronous Updates

Finally, You can also ask employees to track their own productivity when they’re on their own. Again, never underestimate the power of talking to your employees directly. As you define objectives and OKRs, ask your team to measure how they’re doing every few days or at the end of the week.

Of course, they aren’t machines that will objectively assess their own productivity, but posing the question can lead to insightful conversations. Even if this leads to biased data, it can have a much more powerful indirect impact on productivity.

Asking your staff to evaluate their own output regularly forces them to remain aware of themselves. This can help them stay motivated and focused on KPIs, OKRs, milestones, and whatever other measurable objectives you might use.

It can be an empowering activity when you engage in regular conversations with each employee to assess their effectiveness together. You’re turning the “gotcha” element of the productivity question into a positive, joint endeavor. You’re inviting them into the process of helping them be more productive. But, of course, having open and honest discussions about productivity is easier if you have measurable OKRs and clear expectations in place.

Remote work is here to stay. This makes it imperative to find ways to measure remote employee productivity without overstepping as a manager. Remember, micromanaging often tends to do more harm than good.

Instead, use the tips above to quietly assess your team’s productivity over time. That way, you can identify areas that need to be addressed without squelching existing productivity through an overly hands-on approach.

Image Credit: Ivan Samkov; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways to Measure Remote Employee Productivity was originally published on Calendar by Abby Miller

Transforming Your Business Into a System With 5 Methods

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Transforming Your Business

Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions, but the motions seem more difficult than they should be? If this is the case, you may need to consider transforming your business in order to tune it up. Inefficient business operations not only struggle to turn a profit, but they can be frustrating to manage as well.

Luckily for business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere, there are plenty of proven strategies for upgrading your business with effective systems and processes. To help you revamp your business, here are ways to transform your organization into a well-honed system:

1. Identify What’s Outdated

The first step you need to undertake is ferreting out the aspects of your business that are outdated. A perfect example of this is a software program that you’re paying for but barely use. This program isn’t providing any value to your business, so it’s better to cancel the subscription and put that money to use elsewhere.

This examination should also include software programs and processes that are no longer successful or have become inefficient over time. In contrast to the example above, maybe you have an antiquated software system you’re hosting in-house that could be replaced with a more modern, feature-rich, cloud-based solution. In that case, the right subscription might be just what the doctor ordered. While you might be comfortable with your current system, you have to learn to let go of the old and embrace the new to keep your business in a winning position.

2. Tackle Your Biggest Project

No business is perfect, even the brands that grace the top of the Fortune 500 list. Your business likely has its fair share of problems. Instead of stressing over every little detail that needs improving, start by focusing on your biggest issues and getting them sorted out first. Once the glaring concerns are out of the way, the smaller details will seem much less overwhelming.

Let’s say your most pressing issue is your appointment check-in process. Customers routinely end up queuing for long periods because your receptionist can’t handle the influx of people in a sufficiently timely manner.

What needs to be done to improve this vital part of transforming your business? You could implement online appointment software that better spaces out client arrivals, or you might create a customer portal that allows self check-in for return appointments. When this major problem is solved, a lot of the smaller issues will be easier to deal with.

3. Organize Your Files

Regardless of the industry, your business needs to keep track of a lot of information. This could be tax documents and HR paperwork or client information that helps you optimize customer experiences. Whether you maintain this information physically or electronically, this is one aspect of your business that must be kept organized.

Start by going through your files to remove any duplicates or paperwork that is outdated or unnecessary to keep. With the remainder, you need to establish some sort of organized filing system. Files can be organized by customer name or number or chronologically.

While it’s certainly easiest to keep your files organized digitally, there are scenarios where it might be helpful to have a physical filing system handy. This will act as a failsafe if the internet ever goes out and you need to access certain information before it’s back online.

4. Clear Out Your Inbox

When was the last time you cleaned out your email inbox? As far as daily operations go, this is often placed in the bottom bracket of the priority list. After months of neglect, however, a cluttered inbox can start to cause problems or even some minor stress as you log into your messy email every morning.

Any email service will allow you to create custom folders for organizing your emails. This is a good place to start when transforming your business. It will declutter your main inbox and make it easier to find past emails that you need for reference purposes. Some email services even allow you to create tags and color-coding for additional organization if you so desire.

5. Make Every Replacement More Efficient

Every time you make a change to your business, make sure that it’s one for the better. The difference should be significant enough to be justifiable. You can do a lot better than swapping out Windows 10 for Windows 11.

We’ve talked about the digital side of your business and how it can be upgraded for more efficiency. While that is still incredibly important, don’t overlook the physical aspects of your business and how they can be improved as well. For instance, there are probably a few ways you can improve your waiting room to make the check-in process easier and more comfortable for customers.

Not every change you make will have an instant impact. In fact, some of the adjustments you make might end up being more of a side-step than a step forward. What’s important is that you try new things and keep track of what does or doesn’t work. Over time, you will be able to find winning solutions that take your business to new heights.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thanks!

5 Ways to Make Time for a Summer Vacation

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summer vacation

Summer vacation is approaching, the sun is staying out longer, and you’re itching to take a well-deserved break. But unfortunately, the fact that you’re taking a vacation doesn’t mean that life will pause while you’re gone. You’ll need to make sure that everything you’re involved with can go as smoothly as possible without you.

That will take some doing, but it’s far from impossible. Here are some ways to get ready — both at work and at home — before you head out for summer vacation.

1. Manage Your Project Timelines

The first thing to do is to work with your team to ensure that your projects are on track and will stay on track while you’re gone. Which parts of them are you responsible for, and how can you make sure required tasks get done before you leave (or can wait until you return)?

Have these discussions with your team to keep everyone up to date and take all needs into account. To whom can you most efficiently delegate necessary tasks without exceeding people’s bandwidth?

To keep your office running smoothly, it’s important to communicate and consider the energy demands of everyone’s work when handing off responsibilities. One colleague may have capacity to take on some of your work, while others could be stretched to their limits. It may be more beneficial overall to create a more flexible project timeline than to introduce more pressure.

2. Communicate With Your Team

Coordination, communication, and camaraderie are key to efficient teamwork, so make sure you’ve taken the time to establish these foundations. Make yourself available for team members to come to you at any point to discuss duties they’ll be handling while you’re away. Are there any questions they’re likely to have that you can answer in advance? What concerns do they anticipate, and how can you alleviate them or help them feel better about them?

Great communication also involves sharing any important resources and maintaining an open conversation regarding deliverables and deadlines. If you’re already relying on a robust project management system, you can count on your tech stalwart to keep things humming along in your absence. This centralized platform will make project progress visible to all and ensure the necessary handoffs occur even when you’re not there to oversee them.

3. Designate a Point of Contact

When you’re gone and can’t be reached, there are bumps in the road or questions that need answering. All the advance preparation in the world can’t prevent problems from occasionally cropping up. In case team members have issues they can’t resolve on their own, designate a reliable point of contact who can help people on your behalf. This can be a close co-worker or another experienced employee whom you’ve brought up to speed on your ongoing projects.

The role of a point of contact is to answer questions and fulfill emergency responsibilities in your stead. Their goal should be to ensure people leave you alone during your summer vacation so you can relax.

In the event that you must be reached, your point of contact can be the person — and the only person — to contact you. It’s one thing to hear from your POC; it’s quite another to have a dozen team members peppering you with urgent texts during your trip. By specifying a point person, you’ll keep distractions to a minimum.

4. Tend to Prior Commitments

You likely have time-sensitive responsibilities that can’t be avoided in all areas of your life. For example, you might have a health issue you’d like to see a doctor for or a plumbing issue in your home that needs resolving. Check these things off before your departure to prevent them from occupying your thoughts during your break.

This can be easier said than done, considering you only have so much time and you’re using much of it to get ahead on various work tasks. However, if you embrace some scheduling and prioritization techniques, you’ll be better able to square away your responsibilities at work and home before you head off on your vacation. If you run out of time, plan to reschedule critical meetings or appointments when you get back.

5. Prepare Your Home for Your Absence

So you got that leaky faucet repaired, but that’s not the only way you’ll need to prepare your house for your absence during summer vacation. If you have plants and/or pets, you’ll need to line up someone to care for them when you’re not there. You’ll want to set a vacation hold with the postal service and stop delivery of any papers. Alternatively, you could engage a house-sitter to watch your property and collect your mail.

To ensure you don’t kill your vacation buzz immediately upon return, tidy up before you go so you won’t come back to a dirty house. Turn your thermostat down (or up) to save electricity, and switch your gas water heater to the pilot setting. If you’ll be away for a while and won’t have a house sitter, you might even consider turning off the water during that period.

Ultimately your vacation is about you taking the time that you deserve to refresh and recharge. Taking care of all of the above beforehand serves to remove as many worries from your mind as possible. After all, it won’t feel like a break if you’re dealing with work and home responsibilities the entire time. The more time you devote to preparations beforehand, the more time you’ll have to relax on your trip.

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments

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Prioritizing Appointments

When it comes to appointments, I adhere to one rule and one rule only. Always schedule your meetings with employees, customers, prospects, partners, and other business associates ahead of time.

The main reason? It gives you plenty of time to plan accordingly and the people you’re meeting. An appointment also ensures everyone has prevents hiccups like calendar conflicts and arriving on time. And it protects your most valuable resource; time.

Let me give you a recent example regarding that last point. I have a new client who needs to go over the project’s scope before we start. Since I typically schedule my priorities well in advance, I’m just not going to stop what I’m doing when he asks if he can call me in 10-minutes. Sorry, bro. I need more of a head’s up.

But, there’s another reason why you need to prioritize your appointments. You’re going to have a much more significant impact on everyone in your professional and personal lives.

You’ll Place Value on Your Schedule

A booked schedule can easily become ingrained into your routine. It’s one of the primary reasons we book appointments. But, sometimes, life just doesn’t go according to plan. Still, it’s essential that you respect your valuable time.

Never let anyone tell you otherwise either. Your time is valuable regardless of your profession, age, title, or how many years you’ve spent in school. Prioritizing your appointments shows you and others that you’re serious about your goals and calendar. In this way, you’re making it crystal clear that you’re not at the beck and call of others.

Whenever you receive an invitation that is not an emergency or voluntary, consider whether or not the appointment will add value to your immediate goals and needs. How will this appointment affect your progress? Will it hold you back, or worse, keep you in a holding pattern?

You can accept the appointment if it fits with your goals and needs. If it doesn’t, you may politely let it go. Or, if necessary, postpone it until you have availability.

Some Appointments Aren’t Worth Your Time

Not all appointments are created equal to build on what was said earlier. Determine which appointments in your calendar app are necessary by evaluating them.

A discovery meeting or an introductory call should it’s as important as a project wrap-up with a client you’ve worked with for years. However, putting that introductory call on hold if it interferes with keeping your client happy is more important.

You’ll Respect Other People’s Time

“Respect is a two-way street; if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.” — R.G. Risch

While you should obviously be protective of your time, you also need to be respectful of others. After all, how frustrating is it when you have a meeting at 3 p.m. only for the other attendee to arrive 15-minutes? Of, even more infuriating, they ghost you?

With that said, here are some of the best ways to show others respect. And how appointments can help.

  • Distracting them when they’re busy. I don’t know about you. But, when I’m in the zone, I hate being interrupted. It’s why I put my phone on silent. You don’t want to bother others when they’re busy, off-the-clock, or even sleeping. Instead, you can share your calendar so that you can both see when you’re available.
  • Not responding. We all know someone who never responds to our calls, texts, emails, or other forms of communication. If you’re desperate to reach this person, you may feel frustrated. Don’t be that person. Lock in a specific date and time to communicate with them.
  • Constantly arriving late. Again, time is a precious resource. If you’re scheduled to meet at a specific time, be there promptly.
  • Not preparing. There’s no excuse for this. If you know that you have a meeting next Thursday at 3 pm, then you’ve had more than enough time to prepare.
  • Rescheduling every meeting. At some point, enough is enough. Don’t let others frequently adjust their schedules because you can’t commit.

You’ll Have Enough Time to Get Everything Done

The time it takes to prepare for an appointment is often neglected. When you don’t have time to prepare, having a series of back-to-back appointments can backfire. For example, the previous appointment goes later than planned, and now you’re late for your next appointment.

Prioritizing your appointments allows you to understand each appointment’s requirements better. Rather than simply winging it, your appointment will be a success due to your active involvement. Again, being respectful by arriving on time and being prepared.

What’s more, prioritizing appointments ensures that you can still get your other work done. For instance, if you’ve had an appointment booked a month ago, then you wouldn’t have the deadline for an assignment on the same day. On the flip side, if you’re swamped, then you won’t spread yourself too thin by accepting a last-minute invite.

Achieves Work-Life Balance

Having a work-life balance can help you lead a happy, fulfilling life.

If you prioritize your appointments, you will only block out time for your most important appointments, resulting in a better work-life balance. If you have met all these appointments, you will be able to focus on the things that matter most to you in life. While this varies, this means having time for your family, friends, hobbies, and side projects.

Tips on Prioritizing Your Appointments

Here are some ways to prioritize appointments to create a productive, respectful, and impactful schedule.

  • Schedule your priorities. Using something like the Eisenhower Matrix, identify your priorities and schedule them first. What’s left can be deferred, delegated, or deleted. It’s a simple way to be aware of your availability for the upcoming week, month, or even year.
  • Use online appointment scheduling software. Did you know that 40% of appointments are booked after business hours? Using tools like Calendar automates your appointments 24/7. In addition, it eliminates the need for back-and-forth emails and phone calls. The software can also send automated reminders and confirmations. And it can even make smart scheduling suggestions with the power of machine learning.
  • Identify the purpose. Ask the purpose of the appointment in the automated message you send when someone requests an appointment. This way, you know what the meeting is about before committing to it. You can wait until a later date if it isn’t essential or if you’re extremely busy.
  • Begin to say no. Don’t hesitate to politely decline a meeting request if the meeting does not meet a goal. Also, sharing your calendar makes this easier since you can block your availability.
  • Analyze your appointments. Finally, determine how much time you spent on each appointment. So, let’s say that a typical meeting is 30-minutes. You’ll want to block out 45-minutes, 30 for the meeting itself, and 15-minutes to prepare.

This will give you an idea of how many appointments you can reasonably schedule each day.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

You’ll Have the Most Impact by Prioritizing Your Appointments was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton

How to Set Up Your Employees for Success

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How to Set Up Employees Success

Managing a team can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s a challenge that must be taken seriously. As a manager or team leader, it is your responsibility to set your employees and team members up for success. Their performance will reflect on your capabilities as a leader.

There are many ways for you to help your employees reach the next level, but is there a best way? That largely depends on your team and their needs. Consider implementing these ideas to help your employees be more successful than ever.

Provide Easy Access to Helpful Resources and Guides

There are so many advantages you can extend to your employees beyond a regular paycheck. To set them up for success, providing additional resources is a must. For example, many full-time employees get access to benefits packages, such as health insurance and retirement contributions, so they don’t have to seek out these things individually.

The resources you supply to your employees can go far beyond the basics. Consider making safety and training manuals easily accessible to your team. Referring to this information may help employees improve their job performance without the need for a formal training meeting or direct supervision.

Set Them Up With Project Management Software

It’s amazing how the addition of one simple tool can completely transform how your employees work. Implementing project management software may help your team increase productivity and improve efficiency. Using this program will make it so much easier for your employees to succeed every single day.

Project management software became more popular during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. With many companies shifting to a remote workforce, this tool allowed team members to effectively communicate and collaborate even when working from separate locations. The same software is helpful for teams that are hybrid or in person, too.

With project management software, you can store important documents, send instant messages to anyone within the organization, and plan out projects in detail with assigned roles, deadlines, and to-do lists. These functions will streamline so much of what your employees are already doing.

Help Them Manage Their Time

No one likes to be the person who snaps at employees to get back to work. Instead of resorting to such behavior, try teaching your team members to manage their time more effectively. Higher efficiency, due to improved time management, will allow for more lightheartedness in the office, along with many other benefits to job performance.

Team scheduling software is an easy place to start. This will make shift scheduling simple, which is especially useful for companies with numerous part-time employees and inconsistent schedules. Team calendars, scheduling links, and time management training are other measures to take into consideration.

Provide Excellent Hiring, Onboarding, and HR

Setting your employees up for success begins the day they are hired. Your hiring and onboarding process determines how quickly new hires can hit the ground running and how supported they feel right out of the gate. A good onboarding process will also help you maintain higher retention rates, allowing you to continue working with the same team long-term.

When hiring, be sure to establish fair expectations during the interview process. Be honest about the nature of the job and what you expect from the role the new hire will fill. Being transparent about your company and its operations also helps new employees be better prepared when gearing up for their first day.

Onboarding is the process of getting a new member of the organization trained and acclimated as quickly and effectively as possible. A great way to do this is to run a mentorship program. A veteran employee can take a new hire under their wing to answer their questions and teach them how to complete tasks efficiently. Mentorship also enables new team members to create friendships early on for quick team-building and camaraderie that will lead to your team’s success.

Keep in Touch

In addition to everything else you do, it’s important to check in regularly with each of your employees. Implementing weekly or monthly check-ins will help with accountability and progress reporting. It also gives you numerous opportunities to touch base with each team member and ask for their feedback on various topics.

Your employees have a pretty good idea of what they need to help them succeed and can share with you a different perspective on workplace matters. For instance, you might have no idea that the breakroom microwave needs to be replaced because you never use it. While that may be a small and silly example, the point still stands. Keeping in touch with employees will allow them to communicate these types of concerns and other more important issues.

Constant communication between management and employees is essential for success. Listening to your employees’ feedback can lead to innovative ideas that improve your business and increase the trust shared between both sides.

When your employees succeed, you succeed. Give some of these tips a try and watch how your employees grow and improve within your organization.

Image Credit: Alexander Suhorucov; Pexels; Thank you!

Five New Workflow Improvements to Add to Your Calendar

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Workflow Improvements

A typical eight-hour workday includes about three hours of work spent on personal or unnecessary tasks. Or, to put that another way, every week, 15 hours are wasted on non-productive tasks.

Managing workflow improvements and efficiency procedures can help you eliminate these timewasters. However, just be aware that it’s impossible to avoid every delay completely. But, hey. We’ll take what we can.

But, what are some ways you can implement these changes? Below are five workflow improvements to add to your calendar to increase productivity.

How Do Wasted Hours Affect Productivity?

When we spend more time on admin tasks, we lose valuable productivity time. Because of this wasted time, meaningful, project-related work is reduced. What’s more, administration tasks divert attention from more important work. Even worse, when we’re occupied with these tasks, this causes us to focus and drains our energy.

As if that weren’t bad enough, these repetitive and mundane activities aren’t t intellectually stimulating. That might not sound like a biggie. But, that can make you fill unfilled and unsatisfied. Which, of course, will hinder your productivity.

And, if you think that’s tough on you, just imagine what it does to your team if you’re a leader. Just like you, they want to get more done in less time. But, they also want to dedicate their time and energy to be productive, not just busy.

Basically, all of these wasted hours significantly impact a company’s productivity. So, from the top-down, everyone will be more productive if they invest more time in project-related work. And when everyone’s engaged, this leads to greater satisfaction and productivity.

Causes of Reduced Workflow Efficiency

Because workflows have many moving parts, a simple change in one part can affect the whole structure and stymie your organizational progress.

Listed below are some causes of slow workflow, both within teams and organizations as a whole.

Tasks that are irrelevant or unproductive.

If your operations change due to internal factors or external circumstances, you might find that some parts of your workflow are no longer necessary.

When these tasks are not removed, they become bottlenecks in your workflow, consuming resources that could have been spent on more productive procedures, and stagnating work in the long run.

Lack of coordination of information.

Every functional workflow relies on information since it facilitates insight into where your work is at, what factors apply, and what steps you need to take to keep delivering results now, and in the future.

Because information flow isn’t managed intelligently in workflows, you and your team members will spend more time locating the relevant information instead of actually getting work done.

Team management is disorganized.

If your team members do not know which part of the workflow they should be working on and have no idea who to consult in case of an issue, a large pool of personnel will go unused.

Five New Workflow Improvements to Add to Your Calendar

In the workplace, unclear and unnecessary tasks are top time-wasters, as are long meetings and unclear assignments. However, these problems can be reduced by putting the proper tools in place.

At the same time, streamlining your workflow procedures doesn’t happen overnight. But it will save you money and time in the long run if you put in the effort today.

But, where do you start when it comes to workflow improvement? Well, the most glaring would be reviewing and analyzing your current workflow. Doing so will help you spot any bottlenecks so that you fix them.

Another obvious suggestion? Leaning on automation tools for recurring and tedious tasks. And, if working with others, you definitely need collaboration tools.

Outside of these noticeable workflow improvements, here are five new ones to focus on.

1. Align Your Most Important Work With Your Chronotype

.“Your chronotype is just a fancy way of saying ‘your body clock,” explains Amantha Imber, founder of behavioral science consultancy Inventium and the host of How I Work. We all follow this natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness. “Everyone has a unique chronotype, and it influences the peaks and troughs of energy we feel throughout our days.”

“Around 10% of people are stereotypical larks, who feel most energetic in the mornings,” explains Imber. “At the other end of the spectrum are the 20% of the population who are owls, or people who do their best work at night.” As a result, we tend to spring into action in the morning, have a power lull after lunch, and end the day with a bang.

You can achieve more by paying attention to your chronotype and planning your priorities around your energy peaks, suggests Dan Pink, author of “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.”

“On days I plan to write, I do it in the mornings, when I’m most alert,” he told Imber. “I set myself a word count, and I won’t do anything until I hit it.” Furthermore, he won’t use his phone in the office or check his email. “Once I’ve hit my goal, I’m free to do other things.” Instead, pink uses his morning energy to focus on his work and avoid distractions.

He tends to stay focused on doable tasks during his afternoon energy slump. For example, he answers emails or files documents.

When you’re most productive, lock in your priorities first in your calendar. Then, after tackling your preferences, you’ll have the momentum and energy to breeze through your remaining responsibilities.

2. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking is never an efficient way of spending your time, even if it might seem so in the moment,” explains Deanna Ritchie in another Calendar article.

“When we multitask, we rapidly switch between multiple tasks, which expends brainpower, takes energy, and reduces our productivity,” Deanna explains.

Most people who boast that they can multitask effectively don’t realize that they are actually less efficient at solving many tasks at once than they are at completing one task at a time.

You should ask yourself how efficient you want to be whenever you find yourself wanting to multitask. You should be aware of the time and effort you need to devote to specific tasks. These tasks may require you to take time away from other tasks so you can devote your undivided attention to these tasks.

“When you stop multitasking and begin focusing entirely on a single task at one time, you’ll see your productivity increase,” she adds.

3. Get Organized

In my opinion, this can be a broad workflow as it encompasses both the big and the small.

For example, you could block out 10-minutes at the end of the workday to clean organize your workspace. You could also go through your inbox, update your to-do list, or revise your calendar for the week.

You will see a long-term improvement in your workflow if you eliminate this small amount of clutter.

On the bigger side of organization, you need to establish an effective organizational system. It’s a simple way for you and your team to save time when looking for documents and resources. Moreover, you can keep your team on task by implementing organizational strategies and data management systems.

I would also suggest assigning clear deadlines to both you and your team. Again, this will keep everyone on the same page and prevent hiccups. Ideally, you would use a team calendar so that everyone can view upcoming tasks and projects.

4. Schedule a ShipIt Day

The Atlassian Company developed the concept of letting employees work on any project for 24 hours. Employees become motivated when they have the chance to do something they are passionate about when creativity is encouraged in this way. After completing their task for the day, employees return to work feeling accomplished and motivated.

Even if you aren’t leading a team, you can still apply this concept. For instance, you could schedule a ShipIt on Fridays. Why? Because most of us are spent by the end of the week. And, for some, having a 4-day work week can increase your efficiency and workflow.

5. Keep Calm and Workflow On

It is only possible for your workflows to remain cutting edge if you prioritize analyzing them regularly and finding out what works, what doesn’t, and what to improve.

To achieve workflow efficiency, you must;

  • Plan your workflow for manual review,
  • Monitor your issue tracking workflows constantly,
  • As needed, refine your workflows
  • Make sure your workflow can continue to meet your targets by testing and improving.

To get more done with less, it’s easier to eliminate unnecessary steps and focus on what it takes to improve your workflow.

Where does your calendar come into play here? To ensure that you don’t forget to continually review and improve your workflow, add this to your calendar ASAP. How often? That’s up to you. But, for newer workflow improvements, I wouldn’t go more than a month.

However, you can schedule this as a quarterly or annual task in most cases.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

Five New Workflow Improvements to Add to Your Calendar was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Why Your Business Should Plan for Vacation Season Now

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Vacation Season

Summer — and vacation season — will be here faster than you know it. With it comes sandy beaches, tan lines, snow cones, and grilling on the patio. School is out for most kids, and weather conditions are ideal for taking trips and spending money on souvenirs and other pleasures.

If you run an appointment-based business, you may also experience an upswing in summer business. For some, going barefoot on the beach requires regular pedicures. Dental appointments for the kids and physicals for fall sports are easier to squeeze in when school is out of session. Whatever the nature of your business, summer may mean an increase in activity, not a series of lazy, hazy days.

If you’re prepared for it, summer business can result in exciting growth and earning potential. It could even take your small business to the next level. The trick is planning for vacation season now instead of waiting until the first day of summer break officially begins. These are just some of the reasons why your business should be preparing right now for the upcoming summer vacation season:

1. Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail

This old adage holds a lot of truth in it. While no one is actively planning to fail, you’re essentially setting yourself up for disaster — or at least missed opportunities — by failing to plan for a seasonal uptick. Not only could you face overburdened staff, you could also leave current and potential customers dissatisfied.

Review your game plan from the year before so you have an idea of what worked and what didn’t last season. Consider hiring some seasonal employees to take on the additional workload or prepare self-service resources to take the weight off of your team when there’s a full house. Anything you can do to plan and prepare for the influx of business will help you delight more customers.

2. Employees Also Want Vacation Time

Customers aren’t the only people who are wanting to make the most of popular vacation times. At least one of your employees will be making plans for that same time period. If you’re not planning employee schedules in advance, you might find yourself short-handed during a busy time of the year.

You and your team need to touch base well before vacation season picks up. Right now is a good time to talk about summer plans with your employees as the weather continues to get warmer. Coordinating PTO and making sure schedules are covered before planes take off will help ensure that everyone gets their deserved vacation without leaving the rest of the team high and dry.

3. You Can Boost Your Sales With Prepared Content

Any time consumers are primed to spend is a good time to prepare some promotional content. For example, the right marketing campaign for the Christmas season can make an instant impact on your sales numbers for the final quarter of the year. Without posting any content, your business may get drowned out by the many other brands and competitors clamoring for attention. The same goes for snagging consumer attention during the summer months.

Your content and promotional deals will reap far more benefits if they are prepared well in advance. For example, your mother-daughter mani-pedi deal will flop if you don’t have enough staff scheduled to apply the required polish. Throwing together a promotion on the fly will not be nearly as effective as a well-thought-out and carefully executed plan. You should be conceiving and fine-tuning your promotional content weeks before it is set to go live.

4. Things Can, and Will, Go Wrong

Your normal business operations are probably doing fine at the moment. However, the vacation season can add a lot of strain on your normal workflows and daily operations. This added strain can make a lot of new and unexpected problems show up at the most inopportune times. It’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst.

What happens if your star stylist comes down with a case of post-picnic food poisoning and has to cancel days’ worth of appointments? This isn’t something you can predict, but it’s one of those scenarios you should be prepared for regardless. Having other staff ready to pitch in can make sure his clients don’t have to head to the beach without their highlights. The better your backup plan, the fewer annoyed customers you’ll have.

5. You’ll Only Reach the Goals You Set

You can accomplish a lot of things with your business this summer, but only if you start your planning now. Let’s say you’ve started a new business, and you want to use this busy season to pay off one of your business loans. Getting rid of those monthly payments would sure be helpful, but you need an actual plan in order to achieve that.

With a goal in mind, what can you do in the prep phase to make things happen? Perhaps it’s by designing and running a killer digital promotion that will bring in new revenue. Maybe your plan is to set up an information tent at ball games, concerts, and other busy public summer events to get the word out about your new business. Plan these efforts now, and you might actually meet the goals you set.

So much can go right, or wrong, depending on the amount of planning you put into your business. With appropriate preparation, you increase the likelihood that summer vacation season will make — not break — your business.

Image Credit: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi; Pexels; Thanks!

5 Ways Your Business Can Better Leverage Social Media

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5 Ways Business Can Better Leverage Social Media

If your business is not using social media to its advantage, now is the time to start. Social media platforms are free to use and have lots of features to help businesses market themselves. These platforms get a lot of money from the ad revenue they generate from businesses, but you don’t have to give them a dime to see social media make an instant impact.

The truth is that modern consumers spend hours a day on social media sites. They will often use social media to ask about businesses and review their information and content. In addition, by posting content, you can reach new customers who were unaware of your brand before logging on.

That said, social media can be an intimidating space for businesses to get their footing. You might not know where to start or what you should be doing to reap the benefits of social media. These five tips will give you and your brand a helpful nudge in the right direction.

1. Truly Engage With Customers

When just dipping your toes in the water, you might think the obvious use of social media is to promote your new products or deals. You can attach links to your website, with the goal of achieving high click-through rates that result in sales. While this is a great strategy, social media can be used for so much more. These platforms allow you to engage with your customers on a more personal level.

Begin by posting content that addresses your customers’ wants and needs. Keep in mind the tone of voice you use in your writing and make sure that it reflects your brand accurately.

Above all, be consistent with your use of these platforms. You don’t need to post every single day, but your content schedule needs to deliver at a decent enough clip that customers stay engaged.

Another thing you can do is post a poll for customers to respond to. This can give you insight into how customers view your brand and products. Some companies also use social media for customer service. Team members will respond to comments and posts containing issues and complaints and try to come up with solutions. By reaching out to customers, you can often turn negative experiences with your brand into opportunities to build loyalty.

2. Post on Multiple Platforms

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit, and more. There are so many social media platforms, each with its specific features and target audience. You can get comfortable with one, but you’ll find more success by using multiple different platforms.

While you will be able to reach numerous customers through Facebook, some users might have migrated to Instagram or another platform. If you’re restricting yourself to one, you won’t be able to reach all your potential new clients. Even posting the same content across channels can help with your brand visibility.

3. Use Integrations

There are plenty of useful tools you can use alongside your social media platforms. For example, Facebook allows businesses to integrate a schedule into their pages. Users who see your content and want to book a time slot at your appointment-based business can do so directly through this integration.

Other integrations such as Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to plan out your posts in advance. You can set up a week’s worth of content in a single workday and let the integration post based on your schedule.

4. Connect With Other Businesses

Especially for small businesses, the connections you make can be extremely valuable now and in the future. Social media puts you in a position where you can network with the right people. Businesses can create partnerships with other brands, sports teams, and even influencers that can increase their visibility and brand reputation.

You might have seen some friendly banter between Wendy’s and its fast-food competitors on Twitter. While this is done in jest, the comments and posts net all parties more viewers on their profiles and posts. This certainly isn’t your typical form of collaboration, but it’s an example of what two brands can accomplish together through social media.

5. Track Data and Analytics

The backend of social media is just as important as what the customers see. Data and analytics show you what posts are working and which ones are falling short. A video you spent hours developing might not have as big of an impact as a simple image. If you’re not tracking data, you might not realize this.

Most social media platforms have a business page where you can view data analytics. This will give you basic information such as number of impressions, likes, comments, and other engagement with your posts. This will help you modify your content to have a greater impact.

The longer you track data, the more information you’ll have to use to improve your business. Collected data will become more reliable over time, so get started as soon as possible.

In today’s digital-driven world, if you’re not on social media, you may as well not exist. To gain the visibility that will attract customers and drive revenue, embrace these five tips to make social media work for you.

Image Credit: Tracy Le Blanc; Pexels; Thank you!

How You Can Run Your Business More Efficiently in 2022

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Run Business More Efficiently 2022

2022 is the year for growth, with economic conditions improving, consumers back in the buying game, and the pandemic waning. Growth may happen to organizations that plan to run their business more efficiently.

Looking ahead over the next 12 to 18 months, companies may be hoping to see substantial growth. It may be possible, especially if organizations do the hard work now to prepare for opportunities to bound ahead of the competition.

In 2021, a great deal of transformation happened for many organizations. Economic and political climates changed, but so did the priorities of consumers, many of whom were faced with limited product access due to supply chain shortages.

One way to improve growth opportunities is to improve efficiency in operations. It’s not just about seeking sales increase but also trimming back and improving the overall business model to boost bottom lines.

How to Run Your Business More Efficiently With 6 Steps

There’s plenty to look forward to in 2022. Companies need to consider these strategies and tips to take advantage of it.

1. Evaluate employee wages and benefits

As the New York Times notes, the labor shortage impacting many businesses today is pushing up pay for many Americans. Wages at numerous companies – like Amazon, Chipotle, and Bank of America – have increased significantly. While the Federal Reserve is working to monitor wage growth (if it’s too fast, inflation may rise too quickly), for companies, it’s critical to consider the competition.

To improve operational efficiency, companies need to have productive employees. Those are often employees that feel valued and respected by the organization they are a part of. Contrary to many beliefs, workers are willing to work, but they want to be treated fairly and compensated equally.

Does that mean increasing pay? Not necessarily all of the time. However, companies should look at how well their pay scale matches that of their competitors. That’s going to bring in the best talent.

2. Outsource key operations

You don’t have to handle all your business operations in-house to retain control of your company and turn a profit. Plenty of operations are ideal for outsourcing to an individual or provider. In fact, you may already outsource occasionally, such as hiring independent marketing consultants or freelance graphic designers from time to time. However, you can’t overlook the value that you can get by making outsourcing a bigger part of your operational workflow.

Take your fulfillment process, for instance. If you sell products over the Internet to consumers, you need to handle all the associated warehousing, shipping, and receiving elements. These centers can become points of friction and expense. A potential outsourced solution is to partner with a full-service, third-party logistics (3PL) e-commerce solutions provider.

For best results, look for 3PL partners that utilize technology that will integrate with your current tech stack. As Tradefull, a 3PL complete e-commerce solution provider explains, having access to a single dashboard to manage everything from product descriptions to returns gives you the transparency you need to stay in the know.

There’s little doubt that outsourcing operations can provide a huge improvement to your company over time. The transition doesn’t have to be difficult to make, either. Take a look at your current operations. Evaluate which ones are causing you the most obstacles or chewing up profits. Then, consider ways to overcome operational inefficiencies with help from an outside source.

3. Recognize what’s holding employee productivity back

Employee productivity is hurting in many organizations. That directly translates into lower profits and limited efficiency. The question is, why?

One core reason is uncertainty. Political and economic conditions continue to be less clear than in years gone by. Consumers are facing inflation and are worried about their futures. At the same time, they are working to improve themselves by becoming more diversity-focused and supportive of those of different lifestyles. Employees are also battling different needs and desires, with many continuing to face the toll of the pandemic and the losses it brings.

All of that uncertainty doesn’t remain at home. It comes to working with employees. There are solutions that may help alleviate this.

  • Encourage employees to be productive even when they struggle to do so. Do so in a positive and motivating way. Offer tools to help them, such as improved scheduling.
  • Provide mental health and emotional support services to employees to encourage them to seek the support they need. Ensure it remains anonymous.
  • Open the conversation to find out what their needs are. Are they worried about childcare? Do they struggle with focus because of unmet needs? Talk about what’s holding them back.
  • Provide opportunities for enrichment, growth, and promotion. Often, employee productivity improves when they see the good that may come from it.
  • Offer benefits that employees need and want. They may appreciate shorter workdays, flexible schedules, improved health plans, or other services. Open the door to communication to find out what those needs may be.

Improving employee productivity may help you run your business more efficiently, especially in your company’s day-to-day operations. It may also help improve employee retention rates, which means less time and money spent on training.

4. Be ready to tap into supplier product rollouts

The pandemic continues to impact supply chains for many organizations. The Wall Street Journal reports that supply chain shortages and their increasing costs are driven by strong consumer demand for goods. For many businesses, that increasing cost is hurting growth and efficiency opportunities.

Companies must be aware of scarcities within their supply chain. More importantly, while not only noting when these are present, they also need to work closely to find alternatives. Some businesses are working to offer new solutions and products to help accommodate those unavailable products.

Turning to suppliers to ask for accommodations for supply insufficiencies is necessary. Some suppliers are working to source products from other locations or offer alternatives. This could help to increase the ability to produce goods. Working closely with suppliers to manage shortages is critical to helping you run your business operations more efficiently. Without a plan to deal with a lack of materials, companies grind to a halt, pushing their customers to find their own alternatives. Be proactive in seeking other supply options.

5. Work to automate operations as much as possible

With good time management, companies can do more and achieve bigger results. One way to boost time management is to improve automation. Often, organizations see automation as a big-ticket investment they have to make in their operation. Initially, it seems cost-prohibitive, but there are real opportunities to automate small tasks to see big results.

Consider the benefits of automation in various sectors of the company. Automate operations where possible. Automating that task could mean efficiency improvement if a machine can do it and a person does not need to oversee the process. That may include marketing, sales processes, customer service, and other areas.

Moreover, you could automate repetitive tasks such as the hiring process or application process. Work to eliminate tedious tasks that take too much time and yield very little insights.

6. Improve your business’s online footprint

It’s also beneficial to companies to get more of their business online. With this in mind, small businesses are specifically at risk for being left behind when it comes to efficiencies because they don’t provide consumers with access to online and mobile shopping.

Widen the online footprint of the company to move more operations online. That includes selling directly to customers on a website and not just relying on retailers to manage product sales. It may also mean working to bring more marketing efforts online where they are more likely to pay off through social media and brand building.

Improving an online presence may help in numerous ways. First, it helps to streamline both marketing and sales strategies. At the same time, it provides a much higher ROI because of the less demand on third-party retailers.

Additionally, building an online presence builds the company’s credibility and brand recognition, meaning less money needs to go towards educating the public about the company and its products. In turn, this enables you to run your business more efficiently.

Improving efficiency means taking a hard look at business models

Most importantly, organizations ready to embrace all that 2022 has to offer need to focus heavily on running their business more efficiently. It may be a good time for a business to put some money and time into increasing sales or launching new products. It may be time to expand to new countries in an ever-expanding global marketplace.

Yet, at the heart of every business’s growth strategies is finding ways to be more efficient. Consider the value of outsourcing key tasks to professionals who can do it for less so you can focus on strategies that take your company to the next level this year.

How You Can Run Your Business More Efficiently in 2022 was originally published on Calendar by Abby Miller.

Image Credit: Christina Morillo; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Tips for Establishing Solid Business Processes From the Start

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5 Tips Establishing Solid Business Processes

Being an entrepreneur is fulfilling and empowering, but it can also be incredibly difficult. Only 20% of startups remain in operation after their first two years. That number only gets higher over time.

There are numerous reasons why businesses fail. Sometimes it’s due to changes in supply and demand or because you were in the right place but at the wrong time. One very common reason, however, is a lack of operational efficiency.

To avoid becoming another statistic, you should do everything in your power to establish solid business processes from the inception of your startup. Here are five ways to accomplish that.

1. Lean on Software

Since you’re starting from scratch, the best approach is to establish business processes that are supported by software programs. Get these programs into place before your doors open for the first time, and your new business will be in a very good place.

For example, if you have online appointment software set up in advance, you can start booking appointments before your business officially opens. You’ll have a good influx of customers right out of the gate and a system that already works well from day one.

Software can be used to improve business processes in bookkeeping and finance, customer relationship management, and team collaboration. Just be careful when adding new software to your organization. If there are solutions that don’t integrate, they will become difficult and complicated to manage.

2. Train to Get Ahead

The bulk of your training should occur before your business gets started. If you save most of the training for later, you’ll be playing catch-up. A well-trained workforce will be much more efficient and proficient, so much so that it’s worth pushing back your business opening to make sure training is done right.

Start with those software programs you have set up for your business. Make sure that every employee is comfortable with this software before they’re asked to put it to use. With proper training for each tool, there will be fewer problems and delays in the opening stages of your business.

3. Learn From Others

You can discover a lot by analyzing the failures and successes of other businesses. You can learn from the errors they committed and take note of how they did the things that turned out well. This will provide you with a list of dos and don’ts for running your business at full capacity right from the start.

Let’s say you’re opening up a bakery. Before you fire up the ovens on your first day, take a look at other local food establishments to see what you can learn from them. Do they all use the same point-of-sale system, and if so, what’s the reason for that? Do they use similar methods of staffing that appear to aid in productivity? Having this information up front can be incredibly valuable because it eliminates a lot of the trial and error new businesses experience.

Networking is also a valuable practice for new business owners. By speaking with experienced professionals, you can get tips on establishing solid business practices in the beginning. Not only that, but through networking, you can learn which suppliers are reliable and efficient and establish relationships with them.

4. Build Workflows and Workforces

Whether it’s creating a product or providing a service, there is a workflow that gets you and your customer from point A to point B. The more straightforward this workflow is, the more consistent and efficient the process will be as a whole. When building your preliminary workflows, try to keep them as linear as possible. More moving parts mean more room for error.

You should also be building your workforce and directing them toward efficiency. Every member of your team should have a defined role and title. This way they’ll always know what their responsibilities are and where they need to turn for help.

5. Track Data From the Start

While it’s good to be prepared, you can’t keep pushing off your grand opening until every aspect of your business model is flawless. What you can do instead is kick your business off and start tracking relevant metrics immediately.

Using real-time data, you can make small adjustments to your business as soon as you open. Examples of useful data metrics include website traffic, sales numbers, and social media engagement. The sooner you start tracking data, the quicker it can be put to use.

It’s important to take sample size into consideration as well. You should give your business at least a little bit of time to accumulate data on such things as daily customer traffic and sales. That way you can be working with averages rather than outliers. You’ll know the data you collect will represent accurate information that has been sustained over time.

The earliest stages of your business can be the most important ones. It’s important to get started on the right foot so you can hit the ground running. Implementing these tips can help your business enjoy a stellar opening and pave the way toward longevity and prosperity.

Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!

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