Category Archives: Business Tips

How to Be Productive During Your Commute

By | Business Tips, Time Management | No Comments
I don’t know about you, but I find that there’s never enough time to do everything I’d like to do. For instance, I love to travel, craft, sew, go for walks, and do other fun activities. But it’s not easy to fit all of these things into my schedule. It’s not always easy to be productive during your commute each morning. Obviously, I try to be the most productive I can at all times so I can get more work done. This helps me fit as many leisure activities into my schedule as possible. If you are trying to be more productive also there are some ways you can that not everyone thinks of. For instance, you could be productive during your commute. Now that I work at home, I personally don’t commute each day. But if you do, use that time wisely. Utilizing it to be more productive during your commute will give you more fun time with family or friends later.

Work on Your Task List

Rather than wasting time as you commute to and from work, or other places, use that time productively instead. One of the things you could do during that time is to work on your task list. By using this time to add, rearrange, and delete things from your “to do” list, you’ll free up valuable time. You can also use the time to prioritize what you have to do for the day. Once you get to work you’ll be ahead of the game. Instead of spending time figuring out what to do first you can get right to work. This may provide you with extra time to work on more complex projects increasing your efficiency.

Create Meeting Agendas

Something else you could do during your commute is to create meeting agendas. As you probably know, meeting agendas are a great way to ensure meetings run smoothly. As discussion drifts away from topics at hand, agendas put attendees back on course. They also ensure no important topics get passed over. Anyone who misses the meeting can review the agenda for a general idea of what was discussed. This is another benefit of meeting agendas that demonstrate their importance. Use your commute time to be productive and create meeting agendas for your upcoming meetings.

Schedule Meetings

Bringing up meeting agendas reminds me that you can also schedule meetings during your commute. This lets you better use the time you might otherwise be simply wasting. When your calendar is online you can access it anywhere. This lets you be productive during your commute and schedule work meetings. In addition, if you have a shared office calendar, it makes this task even easier and more efficient.

Organize Your Calendar

While you sit idle in a bus, train, or subway car, why not be productive? During your commute you might as well get organized and a good place to start is with your calendar.

Make Appointments

If you have appointments that need to be added to your calendar, use travel time to get it done. That way you don’t miss any that are important to you both personally and professionally. Additionally, you’ll be more productive later by better using what would have been wasted time.

Review Your Calendar

Furthermore, while you sit you can review your calendar for the day’s events. Taking the time to look ahead for the day helps you get where you need to be on time. Without reviewing your calendar you run the risk of starting the day behind schedule. As an example, what if you have an early morning meeting you forgot about? After getting to work barely on time, or a teensy bit late, you now have to scramble. But reviewing your calendar during your commute, on the other hand, prepares you for the day.

Block Time for Work Tasks

Blocking time for work tasks is another way to be productive during your commute. It helps you take control of your time so you can get more done. Also, if you use a shared office calendar, it keeps others from scheduling meetings when your time is tight. If you have large, complicated projects on your horizon, make sure you schedule accordingly. Make appointments with yourself by blocking time out of your schedule. This keeps you, from overbooking your calendar.

Listen to a Podcast

Need an option for a way to be productive during your commute while driving? Try listening to a podcast. It’s a good way to gain the motivation you need to get through the week or even just that day. Use your phone, tablet, or other electronic device to listen and gain inspiration. Spend the time learning about organization, leadership, productivity, and many other things that you find interesting. You may gain valuable insight that will encourage you and spark your creativity.

Learn Something New

Another way to not waste time during your commute is to learn something new. The more you understand about the different applications you use the better you can use them. It will also help you to learn hacks and shortcuts that save you time. One idea you could try is to learn more about your calendar app. Rather than repeating the same motions every time you create a calendar event, learn about ways to do it faster. Refresh your memory about things you may not use often and could have forgotten.

Check Your Messages

A great way to be productive, as an alternative to doing nothing, is to check your messages. Check your cell phone for texts and voicemails. Dial into your work landline and listen to messages that may have been left on your desk phone. Or course, depending on the time of day, it may or may not be too early to return phone calls. But it’s entirely possible that you could answer some text messages. You could also read and respond to your emails during travel time to and from work. This helps you be a better manager of your time and gives you a jump start on your day.

Post to Social Media

To get as much out of your work day as possible, schedule your social media during your commute. There are social media apps that you can use on your phone to post social media. This lets you get that task out of the way so once you’re at work you can do other things.

Put on Your Thinking Cap

While on your way to or from work you could use the time to think and brainstorm. Furthermore, quiet time during a commute may make it easier to brainstorm than at work in a busy office. For instance, if you are putting together a presentation, use the time to research and plan. Or, if you need to write an article, but have no idea what to write about, brainstorm some topics.

Play Some Music

Although some people wouldn’t necessarily consider listening to music as productive, it can be motivational. Listening to something that pumps you up and makes you feel energized can improve productivity after you arrive at work. What’s more, music can lower your stress levels so you are ready to face whatever happens at work that day. Let’s face it. Commutes can be long, tiring, and boring to say the least. But, as you can see, you don’t have to suffer through the boredom. Instead try some of these ways to be productive during your commute and get more done in your day.
Originally published here.

How Time Away from Work Increases Productivity

By | Business Tips, Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments
Many people feel you need to be a workaholic if you are going to be a success. That is not necessarily true. Of course, hard work often goes hand in hand with success and meeting our goals. But that doesn’t mean we need to kill ourselves doing it. Often when we work hard, to the point of keeling over, it’s as if we have something to prove either to ourselves or everyone else around us. It’s like we are saying, “Yes, I really can do it all.” But after a while it begins to take a toll on us. Working constantly with no break doesn’t make us more productive. In fact, time away from work actually increases productivity.

Do More in Less Time

Lack of sleep, fatigue, and stress all have effects on us. They cause a drain on our energy levels and make problem solving much more difficult. It’s hard to stay on task when we are running out of mental fuel. When rested, everything we do can be done in less time. That allows us to do more in a shorter time span.

Prevents Burn Out

Time away from work increases productivity by preventing burn out.  Vacations, morning and afternoon breaks, and lunch periods are all opportunities to shut our minds off. Allowing ourselves to disconnect gives our brains a chance to rest. Think of it like plugging in a cell phone to recharge either at night or during the day. It isn’t going to continue running if we don’t charge it up now and again.

Boosts Creativity

Many people get in a slump in the middle of the afternoon. That is the perfect time to take a fast paced, 5 to 10 minute walk. Cardio activity can actually boost our productivity for up to about two hours after exercise. This allows us to do what we do best but faster. Not only that, but it can spur our creativity and problem solving abilities as well. When we get up, even for a little while, it gets us moving and makes our heart start pumping. This increases our blood flow to every part of our bodies, including our brains. We see things differently. As we form new perspectives on issue or problems we become more innovative and creative at solving them.

Learn More

Grade school aged children get recess time at school. As it turns out, there may be a good reason for that. There is a big benefit to giving ourselves some recess time in a similar way. Once we get up and away from everything even for a little while we can come back to work and direct our focus on learning new tasks or taking on different problems.

Get Sick Less

There are health benefits to taking time away from work. Many people need fewer sick days when they are less stressed. Less stress equals better health equals greater productivity. Obviously working hard is a key part of being successful. But time away from work increases productivity too. To be the best we can, therefore, we should all take breaks periodically and work hard the rest of the time. Do you regularly take time away from work?
Originally published here.

Tension In The Office? Here’s How to Promote Harmony In the Workplace

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Tension in the office can poison a company from within. For starters, your customers and clients will feel the tension when visiting or calling, and the strife might even start to  unsettle the rest of your team. You might think that such internal issues will remain private, but in today’s uber-connected world – it just won’t. In fact, websites like GlassDoor specialize in unearthing and publicizing these internal company problems. To attack this poisonous problem at the root, here’s what you need to do.

1. Recruit Well

Ever heard the term, ‘prevention is better than cure’? Ensuring that you employ agreeable and socially positive people is the absolute best way to ward off tension in the workplace. So, before taking any other step, get the ball rolling on improving your recruitment process.

2. Set Ground Rules to Stop Tension In The Office

Next up, your employees – both new and existing – should be made aware of the ground rules in the workplace. If you don’t have any rules, you need to make some. Without boundaries, you’re giving your employees the freedom to annoy the patience out of everybody else in the office with their bad habits and traits. Most of the time, those annoying employees won’t even realize their mistakes – until it’s too late.

3. Encourage Communication

A breakdown in communication is usually the cause of conflict in any relationship, including a professional one. Company intranets are a good way to encourage communication, although you should also consider opening up anonymous avenues of communication between you and your employees in order to make it easier for them to voice their suggestions and concerns.

4. Organize Outings

Team bonding sessions and retreats are a great way to foster positive relationships within your workforce. It could be something simple like a paintballing session, or you could go all out and book a weekend retreat. However, if tensions are already high, I’d recommend steering clear of activities that require your team to travel and sleep in close proximity.

5. Take Charge

If your employees struggle to respect each other, the least they can do is get along out of respect for their boss. Be sure to exercise your leadership skills in order to handle disputes and dish out verdicts. Hopefully, your authoritative presence will overpower the guile your employees have for in-fighting.

6. Don’t Have Favourites

Some employees will impress you more than others, which is natural. But if you start playing favourites publicly (or even privately), you’re bound to stir up trouble. Jealousy might set in among other workers, or accusations of unfair treatment may be made. And this time, it will be your fault. Instead, play it safe and treat everybody the same – and yes, that goes for family, too.

7. Accept That Not Everybody Gets Along

As serious as office tension can be, sometimes, nobody is to blame. The fact of the matter is, two perfectly good employees may simply dislike each other, and that’s okay. The solution is to recognize that even employees are human, and so it’s your job to separate them from each other as much as possible. If the two employees are team players, they’ll make it work. If not, this next tip is for you.

8. Eliminate Disengaged Employees

Yes, you read that correctly. Firstly, take steps to hear them out and provide solutions to their problems. An engaged employee will welcome your attempt to bring about a conclusion – whereas a disengaged employee will resist it. And make no mistake; a disengaged employee is toxic to your brand. With that in mind, if this approach fails, it’s high time they packed up their stuff. No employee is bigger than the company, and if they’re determined to cause trouble, you simply can’t afford to keep them.

Build Company Culture

The long term solution to tension in the workplace is to build a company culture that employees want to be a part of. You should be actively injecting personality into your brand from the inside by firstly following the tips above, and also by making your office an enjoyable place to work. As the boss, the responsibility of creating that company culture rests with you. How do you ward off negativity in the workplace? Let us know about your process in the comments section below!


Originally published here.

4 Affordable Ways to Reward Your Employees For Their Hard Work

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A business is nothing without the employees who grind day in and day out to make it run. As the business owner, or manager, you need to show your team how much you appreciate their hard work. When you reward your employees for their efforts, it will also lead to increased productivity and motivation. Especially in startups, it’s tough for business owners to allocate a budget for these rewards. Truth is, you don’t have to break the bank to show your employees your appreciation. It really comes down to being creative and connecting with them on a personal level. If you’re short on ideas, take a look at these four affordable ways to reward your employees for their hard work.

Field trips.

Let’s take a quick moment to reminisce on our many years at school. Remember, when a teacher would announce a field trip? The level of excitement from the students was typically through the roof. Even if the trip was months out, you better believe every student had it on their calendar. This level of excitement can also be brought to your company. Team outings are a great way to reward your team as well as build chemistry. Whether it’s a trip to the bowling alley or a team dinner, there are plenty of cheap options that will have a huge impact on team morale.

Executive lunches.

As your organization grows, your staff will become increasingly distant from the executives who ultimately run the business. That distance will cause a naturally disconnect between the employees and their leaders. A great way to bridge that gap is to schedule lunches with the team and the executives or founders. Lunch meetings are productive for many reasons. First and foremost, they put the attendees in a much more casual setting compared to a conference room. This will encourage discussions beyond business and allow the employees to connect with executives on a personal level.

Flexible work days.

Rewards and perks go hand in hand. One perk, that literally costs nothing, is a flexible work day (or days). Whether you allow them to work completely remote or reduced hours, they will feel like they are being given a special privilege. Not only that, working remote has actually been found to increase productivity for some employees. The best way to leverage this policy is to leave it loose. For example at our company, being in the office on Friday is optional. If you’re able to finish your work before Friday, then you can enjoy an extended weekend. You should focus on measurable output rather than just hours worked.

Gym memberships.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle goes hand in hand with living a happy and productive life. Odds are, most of your employees are looking to get a gym membership to say active. Nowadays, memberships at quality gyms can get quite expensive for a single member. Luckily for the business, plenty of gyms offer corporate or group membership packages that allow you to equip your entire team with a membership. This is a small gesture that will be well-received by everyone. Keeping your employees happy is no easy task. However, a loyal employee will stick with you through thick and thin. That said, use the four strategies above to make sure you’re rewarding your team for their efforts.
Originally published here.

How to Make Sure Your Personal Life Doesn’t Negatively Affect Your Business

By | Business Tips, Knowledge Base | No Comments
Let’s be real. Sometimes, your personal life can wreak havoc on your business. As much as we try to keep personal and business separate, we’re human. The problem is when the issues in our personal lives affect our productivity. In recent weeks, I’ve engaged in multiple conversations with business owners who have all been dealing with things in their personal lives. No one makes it public, of course. However, when they are in circles with other business owners they trust, all the personal life dramas are shared. I’ve also had my fair share of drama in my personal life in recent months. As such, I’ve learned several strategies for not allowing it to affect my business. Here are some of the strategies I find work best.

Always prioritize savings.

As a business owner, the amount of money you make can be directly correlated to your output. Sometimes, things in our personal lives do require more of our attention and it causes us to take a temporary step back. That’s why it’s always good to have savings in the bank. For example, a couple of years ago I had to take a step back from my business to help my family with some things. Because I had savings, I was able to do it without any issue.

Give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions.

Making sure your personal life doesn’t affect your business doesn’t mean ignoring things. This can actually escalate conflict and make everything worse.  It simply means managing them. For example, if you’re going through an emotional period in your personal life, give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions. Christine Hassler, a life coach for millennials, suggests giving yourself a few minutes each day to really feel your emotions. This way, you’re not ignoring them, but you’re also not letting them affect your business.

Be careful who you surround yourself with.

Sometimes, issues in your personal life can be traced back to those you surround yourself with. While you may be careful who you surround yourself with your business, perhaps this is a lesson you’re still learning in your personal life. I know I definitely am. If you notice that drama always seems to surround one or two people, then it’s time to cut them out. The last thing you need as a business owner is to always be involved in some mess because of the company you keep. Keeping your personal life out of your business becomes impossible when the people in your life consistently drag you down. Toxic people can easily overrun your life with their energy, which is why they need to go if you plan on running a successful business. Bottom line is if you don’t want your personal life ruining your business, then you need to take the preventative measure of making sure unnecessary drama won’t be caused.
Originally published here.

4 Ways You Can Improve Teamwork

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Regardless of how talented your individual team members are, you won’t get very far if they don’t work cohesively. As the business owner or manager, it’s your job to implement strategies that will improve teamwork. When your team works together, trust begins to build and responsibilities become clear. A healthy team knows how to be honest with one another even if it means putting forth harsh criticisms.

That all said, here are seven ways you can improve teamwork in your company.

Establish a clear team mission.

This applies to your overall company mission, and the mission of each project you kick off with your team. It may take five, ten, even twenty years to build a successful company. During that time, you may kick off projects that drag on for months if not a year. Regardless of what stage you’re in, you need to establish a clear team mission. If you can paint the big picture and align everyone with the same goals, your team will be motivated and productive.

Create a reporting infrastructure.

In every organization there will be problems. The last thing you want is to have an employee sit on an issue and not have anyone they can report to. On the flip side, you also don’t want that employee to gripe about their problems every time they arise. The best way to handle this is by creating a reporting infrastructure. First and foremost, you need every team member to understand their roles and to whom they report issues to. If there is a disagreement, there needs to be a process in which that issue gets discussed. Last but not least, you need to decide which members of the team make the final call. Establishing these ground rules is key to improving overall teamwork.

Make the right hires.

While this one sounds obvious, it’s surprising how many managers fill roles with unqualified employees. The problem is, most hiring managers overlook the importance of personality fit. A fancy resume and a proven track record may look good on paper, but if they don’t get along with the rest of the team what’s the point? As you go through your interviews you need to focus on both skill and personality qualifications. If they seem promising, you should always throw them in the mix and let them work amongst the team for a few days. If things don’t work out, try shifting things around or look for another candidate.

Build relationships outside of the workplace.

In order to build honest and lasting relationships you need to encourage team bonding outside of the workplace. Work can get stressful, and that stress can really weigh down on people. Instead of trying to fix things at the office, take your team out to lunch or organize a team field trip. Not only will this give your team a breath of fresh air, it’ll give them the chance to get to know each other on a personal level. One great option is to have your team join a sports league together. First and foremost, health and fitness is as popular as it’s ever been. Second, team sports is one of the best ways to build team chemistry. For tech companies, there are plenty of sports leagues you can join where you compete against other companies. This way you can network, exercise, and foster teamwork all at the same time! At the end of the day, building teamwork takes time – so it’s in your best interest to start now. For starters, use the four strategies above so you can improve teamwork.
Originally published here.

5 Rules for Using Shared Work Space

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Not everyone can afford to have their own business office space in a separate building. But they may not have room in their homes or apartments for an office either. A solution to that problem is to use a shared work space with others. Many businesses have filled that need by offering shared work spaces. For a fee most include desks, chairs, good lighting, and internet connections. Some will even allow you to use their business address, phone number, and conference rooms in rental agreements. But working co-operatively with other people you don’t know isn’t always easy. Everyone has different personalities and quirks that can make a shared work environment uncomfortable. Nevertheless, you can prevent problems from arising if you follow some rules for using shared work space.

1. Work Quietly

One of the rules for using shared work space is to work quietly. It’s difficult to accomplish what you need to, especially on a deadline, if you can’t concentrate. Don’t talk excessively to others who are also trying to focus on their own work. A simple “hello” or nod of the head when they look your way is an acceptable greeting that’s less disruptive.

2. Clean Up After Yourself

Imagine this scenario. You walk into a shared work space with your computer, coffee cup, and a stack of papers. After setting everything on a table you set up your computer and prepare to start working. Picking up your paperwork you see that some mystery liquid has soaked several pages on the bottom of the stack. Yuk! When working in a shared space you need to be mindful of the sensitivities of the other people around you. Follow the golden rule of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. To put it another way, leave the area you work in as neat as it was when you got there. If you have any wrappers, paper cups, or other trash you should throw it away. Wipe up any messes or crumbs.

3. Stay within Your Own Space

Everyone’s approach to work is different. Some people like to spread out more and others just stack everything in one pile. The bottom line is that if you rent work space, don’t take up more than what you’ve paid for. Other people don’t like it when your stuff invades their working space. Keep your stuff on your side of the table.

4. Bring Your Own Supplies

Another rule for using shared work space is to bring your own supplies. It pays to think ahead. So each morning before work, think about what you will be doing throughout the day. Pack a small stapler, paperclips, pens, paper, or other supplies you may need to take with you. If you must borrow from others in your shared work space, thank them. Be courteous and return items in good condition as soon as possible.

5. Practice Good Hygiene

No one wants to work around others who smell bad. Make sure you are showered and fresh before you go to work in a shared work space. On the other hand, be mindful of the cologne you use. Try to keep it to a minimum because other people may be sensitive to strong scents. It isn’t easy to work elbow to elbow with other people when you’d rather have your own work space. However, it can be done without quarrel if you follow some easy rules for using shared work space.
Originally published here.
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