How to Boost Your Productivity Game in 2022

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How Boost Productivity Game 2022

If you are one of those people who make New Year’s resolutions, being more productive likely made the list. In fact, it probably makes the list for all people — year after year after year — because productivity can be elusive for all.

Even if you started 2022 with a constructive few months — by April, you may already be waning. The commitment to productivity in your job and personal life may be as unused as your gym membership. “Maybe tomorrow” turns into “maybe next week,” then “maybe next month,” and so on.

Before you allow your good intentions to pave that road to you-know-where, take note. There are ways you can restore that drive for productivity and make it a habit rather than a hope. Don’t just resolve to boost your productivity game in 2022; make it happen.

Establish Some Boundaries

If you don’t set limits on what you do and don’t want to do, you’ll keep landing out of bounds. Deciding what you’re not going to do in 2022 will keep you focused on what you do. Those limits will help you say “no” to wasting time and “yes” to getting things done.

Boundaries are rules used to guide interactions with others. Those interactions could be with family, friends, co-workers, or even the barista at your favorite coffee joint. That means they are personal, professional, and transactional.

You may decide this is the year to not indulge in office gossip. Or perhaps you’ll choose to not run to the bathroom and hide every time that annoying co-worker approaches you. Imagine what you could accomplish just by placing those two activities out of bounds.

Your productivity will rise if you are centered rather than lurking on the periphery. Obviously, you need to set some boundaries to know where they are. But once you do, you can focus on what matters and leave what doesn’t outside the lines.

Breathe Life Into That To-Do List

Now that you’ve set some rules for what you aren’t going to do, make a list of what you are. To-do lists come in all forms and lengths, so begin by deciding what format will work best for you. If you aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to try a few on for size.

Make sure your list doesn’t linger on your desk like the company’s last strategic plan that’s sitting on the shelf. A good list should be consulted and revised every single day, marking items off, and adding new ones. If that isn’t happening, adjust the way you’re doing the list or don’t bother having one.

You can add structure to your list by using your calendar instead of a series of sticky notes. It will force you to think realistically about the time it will take to accomplish a task. Moreover, you’re less likely to overschedule the volume of tasks on a day filled with meetings.

To-do lists may do more harm than good if they overwhelm rather than encourage. If your current method isn’t working, give it some oxygen. Done correctly, your list, (and that strategic plan), should be a living, breathing thing.

Free Up Your Prime Time

Everyone is more productive at some times than others. The time of day, day of the week, or month of the year are all variables. The trick is determining where your productivity sweet spot is and using it to your advantage.

If Monday morning at 11 with two cups of coffee down is your prime time, block it off your calendar. Schedule a task for that time instead, especially one that’s important, on a tight deadline, or difficult. It’s a great opportunity to check off a loitering assignment.

Freeing up those chunks of time when you are most productive also means eliminating corresponding distractions. Close your office door (if you have one) and hang up a “do not disturb” sign. Stick your phone in a drawer and silence those pesky notifications so you aren’t tempted to look.

If you can develop a habit of preserving your most productive times for actual production, even your coworkers will notice. That may help them avoid distracting you despite working in a cubicle or an open office space. You’ll be more than ready for prime time.

Employ Some Tools of the Productivity Trade

Productivity apps have become ubiquitous. They’re all designed to boost productivity at work, at home, among individuals, or teams. In fact, you can skewer your productivity by spending too much time figuring out which ones you want to use.

Nonetheless, if you find an app that makes you more focused, more organized, and more productive, use it. You may find some are handy for everything from working out to whittling down the honey-do list at home. Using productivity apps for more than your job will make you more adept at using them.

Employing apps and productivity hacks for more than one purpose at a time may make you more productive on multiple fronts. For example, kill two birds with one pomodoro technique that you’re using to maintain focus on tasks. During those five-minute breaks, do some squats or sit-ups and get your workout done too.

The fact is that productivity devices don’t work for everyone. But if you haven’t tried any because you don’t think they’re your thing, you should. Any job is always easier if you’re using the right tool to get it done.

Give Your Productivity a Leg Up

Everyone needs a little help sometimes to keep their resolutions going — or to start over. It’s okay to ask for help, stumble a bit, and restart when necessary. Abandoning the attempt to become more productive is the only real failure.

As you focus on your resolve to improve, celebrate your wins, and don’t beat yourself up over the losses. Productivity is, after all, work. Boost yours even a little this year, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

How to Boost Your Productivity Game in 2022 was originally published on Calendar by Max Palmer.

Image Credit: Olia Danilevich; Pexels; Thank you!

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!

Reduce Stress by Reducing Procrastination

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Reduce Stress Reducing Procrastination

Everyone is told time and time again that stress is bad for you. Unchecked stress can lead to many physical health issues. The month of April is dedicated to stress awareness. How are you handling your stress these days?

We all know that stress can cause issues like high blood pressure, obesity, and even heart disease. While unchecked stress has many adverse physical health conditions, stress leads to many mental health issues.

These mental problems include depression, panic attacks, and anxiety. The psychological and physical issues all stem from prolonged amounts of stress on the body. Further, these conditions can worsen over time as tension and stress are left untreated and ignored. Therefore, with the possibility of these issues, it is essential that we find ways to resolve stress.

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to reduce procrastination. Procrastination is the process of worrying and delaying what needs to be done. The constant effects of procrastination can build up high amounts of stress and anxiety. This article will discuss some easy and actionable ways to reduce stress by reducing procrastination in your life.

Create a Daily Task List

Before you start your day, sit down and write the tasks that need to be done. When we take a step back and organize our thoughts, we make a better plan of action to get things done. Create a schedule for your tasks. For example, you could set up time blocks to focus on each task.

Scheduling time for each task throughout the day will help structure a plan of action. Put the most essential and draining tasks first on your list. For example, you may put thought-intensive tasks like writing and emailing ahead of a meeting with a coworker. Getting these tasks done earlier in the day will not only make you feel accomplished but also makes the rest of the day easier.

Make the task list as simple as possible, while still being specific. For example, you might say “read 30 pages” instead of “read the book.” Being specific will help keep you on track and know precisely what you need to do. The list should not have more than ten items on it at one time, but if it does, you may be using the task list as a tool for avoiding work rather than getting organized.

Set Aside Time to Take a Breather

Set aside time to take a deep breath and relax on your Calendar or schedule. For example, you could plan a quiet, relaxing walk after finishing an intensive task. The breaks can help reset your mind and re-energize yourself for the next task at hand.

While taking a break, try to remove work-related thought distractions. This time should be a way for you to relax and escape work entirely, not sit and think about all your to-dos. Also, avoid using social media and other online distractions. For starters: Scrolling through news apps and refreshing your social media feed during your designated break time will not be relaxing, especially if negative news shows up.

Lastly, use breathing techniques. Try taking a deep breath in for ten seconds, holding it for a few seconds, then slowly letting it out for another ten seconds. Practicing breathing techniques effectively can help slow down our intrusive thoughts. Your clearer mind will allow you to come back to work full of energy and focus.

Remind Yourself of the Consequences

Make a note of the consequences of not completing a task. Understanding the consequences of not getting something done can help you understand why it was necessary in the first place, in addition to serving as a motivator to complete it. For example, if you’re a student, you might make a list of consequences for not studying for a big exam. The list could include repercussions, such as failing the class or not learning the material.

Or, if you do not want to go as far as making a physical or digital list, make it a habit to remind yourself mentally. For example, if you were finding yourself struggling to start a project, you could ask yourself, “what would happen if I did not start the project.” Having that consistent mental reminder of why the task is necessary can make it much easier to get started.

Set Reasonable Goals and Deadlines

Create reasonable goals and deadlines for your work. Setting up a marker to aim towards helps us realize the bigger picture of each individual task. It also prevents us from continually moving something off into the near future. When a hard deadline is set, you are set on finishing the project on time.

Make your goals SMART:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Timely

The SMART acronym helps you identify all components of a great goal. For example, the goal “read a book” could be developed into “read 25 pages of Harry Potter: Death Hallows by Wednesday night.” As a result, the goal becomes much more attainable. In addition, thinking about the acronym can help you find the weak points of your goals.

Making your goals more exciting can also reduce the probability of you avoiding what needs to be done through poor goal setting. Take this a step further by making the goals visible throughout the day, like perhaps adding your goals to your weekly Calendar. Crossing off completed goals helps you achieve a sense of accomplishment. A visible goal list will not only motivate you but will also make accomplishments a habit.

Eliminate Potential Distractions

Scan your work desk for things like a clock, extra desk clutter, fidget items, and anything that can potentially distract you. For example, for some people, a clock on the wall might tempt them to continuously check the time — for others, a clock on the wall saves time and motivates them. Figure out and know which person you are. Desk clutter might tempt you to organize. Clearing your desk of anything that is not necessary to have to accomplish your daily tasks will help you be more productive.

As with clocks and desk clutter, fidget items like writing utensils, Pop-Its, desk decor, and more – are also a distraction, even though they are valuable items. Do yourself a favor while trying to hone in on a specific task and get rid of the distraction. Removing them from your view is a great way to set yourself up for improved focus and success.

Concluding Thoughts

Take positive, consistent actions to start reducing stress by reducing procrastination in your life. This article discussed several actions you can take to begin this process. You can get more organized by approaching tasks with a daily task list. While striving to work hard, you should also remember to set aside time for mental breaks to energize yourself.

Tasks are there for a reason. Evaluating the root reason you are doing a task in the first place can help motivate you to be more productive. Try to view your goals as assistants who are helping you create benchmarks for success. Just be sure that the goals are set properly to be helpful in the long run.

Additionally, clearing your workplace clutter will help you eliminate the sources of procrastination from their roots. By implementing some of these lessons in your own life, you can be more productive as stress and procrastination start to fade away.

Reduce Stress by Reducing Procrastination was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Time Management Hacks That Will Restore Your Work-Life Balance

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5 Time Management Hacks Restore Work Life Balance

The widespread shift to remote work prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has had an erosive effect on the boundaries between work and life. While many have found work-from-home arrangements to be incredibly beneficial, they can blur these lines if you aren’t careful. The result is an “always-on” mindset that can upset your work-life balance.

Whether you’re in the office or at home, there is a solution. It involves consciously separating your work from the rest of your day — and managing your work time well so your personal time can remain free from work-related concerns.

1. Create a More Productive Workspace

The key to keeping work from seeping into your personal life is to do that work as efficiently as possible. That starts with creating a workspace that is conducive to your productivity needs.

Set up your desk with efficiency in mind. If a second monitor would keep you from having to switch repeatedly between scores of open tabs, get one. If jotting down notes sparks your creativity, have a notepad handy. Keeping a store of snacks and a bottle of water at hand will prevent mid-morning wooziness and the resulting productivity dip. Consider your organizational habits and determine how you can refine them for a more efficient workflow.

Most importantly, make an effort to isolate this space from the rest of your day as much as possible. If you have a dedicated room for your home workspace, leave your laptop there and close the door at the end of the workday. If your WFH office is one end of the kitchen table, close your laptop and remove papers and files to a “work box” when you knock off for the day. Whatever approach you take, the point is to help yourself distinguish your work from end-of-day relaxation.

2. Eliminate Outside Distractions

Another way to work more productively — and thus ensure your personal time stays your own — is to reduce distractions as best as you can. Once you put the first tip into practice, you’ll probably have eliminated several attention drains already. But others — outside noises, communications from others, etc. — you can’t simply prevent. You can, however, decide how you and your technology should respond.

When you’re on the clock, silence all unnecessary notifications you might receive and let friends and family know you’re working. If the neighbor’s lawn mower or chatty family members are distracting, invest in some noise-canceling headphones or listen to a speech-blocking noise generator. Anything inessential that you can’t prevent from drawing your focus away from work can likely be mitigated in some way.

3. Use Time Blocking

Time blocking is a method in which you set aside a predetermined chunk of time on your schedule to get particular tasks done. By grouping work by type — say, answering all your email at once or scheduling an hour to knock out the last section of a sales report — you eliminate task switching and enable more focused work.

Time blocking has another advantage that is particularly helpful to the perfectionists among us. If you’re prone to giving a paragraph another pass or running the numbers one more time, the knowledge that the clock is ticking will encourage you to wrap things up in the appointed time. Time blocks don’t need to be long — in fact, smaller chunks may work best if you need some external time pressure to get tasks done in an efficient manner.

Another benefit of time blocking is that it doesn’t have to be a merely personal experience. You can put an hour block on your calendar that announces you’re occupied at that time. If co-workers look to see whether you’re free, they’ll instead see that you’re busy and hold off on reaching out until after your task is complete.

4. Disconnect When the Day Ends

Work creeping into your personal time is common and hard to avoid. By implementing the productivity tips above, you’ll be better able to check critical tasks off your workday to-do list, increasing the likelihood that your evening will be your own.

When your work has set hours, there is no more effective method for keeping it confined than fully disconnecting from all work notifications, communications, and platforms once those hours end. If you work in an office, join the daily end-of-the-day exodus. Otherwise, you’ll be giving away your free time — which is utterly invaluable to your mental health and work-life balance.

If you work from home, you’ll have to rely on yourself to disconnect when the workday is over. Set yourself a timer for when to turn off email notifications and set your Slack status to unavailable. Receiving various notifications may not feel like a problem, but they can keep you distracted from yourself and your loved ones. Allowing them will only damage the quality of your free time, further harming your work-life balance and making it harder to relax.

5. Take Your Personal Time Seriously (After a Fashion)

Now that you’re disconnected, what should you do? Make sure to take this time seriously — by which we mean doing what relaxes you the most. Your personal time is valuable, but that doesn’t mean you should stress yourself out trying to fill it with “meaningful” activity. If all you want to do is kick back and watch TV, then that’s the best way to spend your time.

Your situation will vary depending on whether you have family or other obligations, but it’s important to commit to having time of your own. If that means binge-watching the second season of “Bridgerton” rather than writing the Great American Novel, so be it!

It’s entirely too easy to let your work life bleed into your personal one, but you need to resist that impulse. Taking time for yourself is the best way to recharge so that when you’re back to work the next day, your productivity will be running on a full battery.

Image Credit: Eunice Lui; 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!

The Profound Impact of Productivity on Your Soul

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Profound Impact Productivity Soul

People are constantly looking for new ways to improve their productivity. This is because there are only so many hours in the day, and yet there is always so much to do in the allotted time. Productivity habits not only motivate us but also help us lay claim to time that is slipping away, unused, or wasted on activities that are done out of boredom — time we actually want.

Productivity should be an essential focal point for anyone who wants to live a more fulfilling life. This article will discuss productivity and its impact, far beyond simply checking tasks off your list. It will address how productivity can evoke positive thoughts about ourselves and our work, which will allow us to grow into more productive people in the long term — and help us fill our time with soul-filling activities.

Productivity and Its Impact Beyond Work

Finishing what you set out to do feels great. Have you ever had a rush of satisfaction after checking off that last item on your to-do list? Feeling satisfied and fulfilled about what you are doing is the essence of great productivity. Of course, it means you are getting stuff done, but you are also getting stuff that is actually important and meaningful.

Here is why productivity can mean much more than simply crossing something off your list of things to do.

Helps You Contribute to Society

We feel more fulfilled when we contribute to something more than ourselves. Lazy days can help us visualize our impact better. We all have these lazy days, and sometimes they are nice — but they can leave us with a sluggish feeling, sometimes nagging thoughts, and a guilty feeling of lost time.

While it is important to treat ourselves to a break, and wisely use some time for self-care — being a productive person can rid us of the dissatisfaction of not being a contributor. In addition, productivity can make us feel overall better as individuals because we have a sense of accomplishment.

Encourages You to Embrace Yourself

When we “do,” we share a piece of ourselves with the world. Our work can speak volumes about ourselves. Every time we decide to be productive and take action to complete something, we are embracing our identity and who we are. Being able to choose our efforts and be who we want to be is a rewarding feeling.

However, it is also essential to ensure you are doing it for yourself and are not trying to meet someone else’s expectations of you. For example, some younger kids will play sports that they hate to ensure the happiness of their parents. The kids are doing it for their parents, rather than themselves.

What happens when you don’t do it for yourself is twofold; First, you become dependent on someone else’s validation. Second, you cannot truly embrace who you are as a person. Productivity can be a fulfilling tool, but if you are not being productive for the right reasons, then it can backfire and hurt your wellbeing.

Helps You Achieve Balance

For example, productivity applies to many more areas in your life than work. Productivity can apply to sitting down and reading that book you have always had on your nightstand. Or, further, it can apply to prioritizing time to spend with your family.

Productivity isn’t just about getting work done; It’s about using your time effectively to live the balanced, fulfilling life you want to live. You shouldn’t stretch yourself thin to get an impossible amount of tasks done. Instead, try to focus on the things that give you the most happiness and satisfaction.

Below are several actionable steps you can take to be more productive.

Actionable Tips to Be More Productive

1. Understand the 80/20 Rule

Learn how to use the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule states: “20% of your efforts actually contribute to 80% of your results.” For instance, 20% of your effort in a sales role may contribute to 80% of actual sales. To understand this rule in your life, write down all the tasks you do daily.

Afterward, try figuring out how each task relates to concrete results. While the rule is certainly not infallible, it does help us think about how we use our time. For example, what are the 20% of efforts that actually lead to results? How can we prioritize these efforts and minimize the other 80% of actions that do not lead to anything?

Understanding more about how our efforts contribute to actual results helps us get more out of our actions and, in turn, will help us achieve a more accomplished and fulfilling life.

2. Organize Your Schedule

Develop a schedule that works for you. If you get specific tasks better at certain times in the day, it might make sense to align those times with the tasks on your schedule. Productivity may be more about planning out an excellent strategy for getting things done rather than complete execution. If we embrace a plan to organize our time, we’re setting ourselves up to accomplish the tasks we have set out for ourselves — and this is productivity.

We become less worried about whether we’re using our time in the most productive way because we’ve already pre-optimized our schedule. From your schedule organization efforts, you’ll be able to organize your day into something that works well for you.

3. Find Ways to Prioritize

Prioritize what’s important, and focus your efforts on that. For instance, you could write down the single most important thing to get done for the day, and then plan on making it the first task item you start your day with. Understanding what is most important each day can help you avoid meaningless tasks. In addition, you will begin to feel better about yourself when you start focusing on what you deem meaningful and vital.

4. Write Down Your Why

Take some time to write down your why. In other words, try understanding the reason behind all that you want to accomplish. For example, you might write that your why is “providing for family.” Or, perhaps your why might be “getting to do exciting things in life.”

That piano is not going to practice itself, the gym will not come to you, Babbel isn’t going to finish your Spanish lesson, your next research paper won’t be written if you don’t do it, the drawing sitting in your creative room will not complete itself, and a visit to a sick friend won’t happen without you. And are you missing out on this level of productivity because you got sucked into a video game? Well, I do, and most people I know admit to doing the same time-suck activities.

You want a life lived in the present.

No matter what you write for your why — this exercise helps you understand what drives you. You’ll be motivated and driven with a revitalized understanding of why you started something in the first place. This also enables you to ensure that what you are doing actually provides fulfillment and purpose in your life. If you are doing something that does not align with your true whys — it might be a good idea to eliminate it from your life.

5. Listen to Music

Listen to music more. Next time you’re doing dishes, you could try playing some upbeat music in the background from top-hit artists, such as Pitbull, to get some energetic beats going. Science shows that listening to music while working actually makes people more productive. So not only can music be fun, relaxing, and exciting to listen to, It’s also going to make you feel great as you see yourself in a new, productive, and music-loving light.

6. Be More Consistent in Communicating Tasks

Be more consistent in communicating tasks with teammates. For example, let coworkers with whom you work closely know when you start a new project. You want to avoid any miscommunication or potential duplication of project efforts.

This goes back to the idea that productivity is not just about getting things done; it is about getting things done with a purpose. Knowing that you are starting a fresh, new project makes you feel like a more fulfilled teammate since you know you’re doing something valuable.

7. Use Time Tracking Tools

Using time tracking tools is excellent for productivity – and accountability. For example, you could set a 25-minute focus timer on an alarm clock to get a task out of the way. Many apps even have AI to help analyze how you are spending your time. There are plenty of time-tracking tools out there to find.

Final Thoughts

Find which productivity method works for you, and start reaping the benefits to your soul.

You’ll find yourself feeling more focused and level-headed — and happy. When you start getting more done, you’ll feel satisfied knowing that your planning efforts have been successful. Overall, your productivity will reflect in more areas in your life than just one, giving you more time to spend on what truly matters.

The Profound Impact of Productivity on Your Soul was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Keep Your Employees Better Connected

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How to Keep Employees Better Connected

The next time you’re at the park, pick up a twig and snap it with your hands. Pretty easy to do, right? Now gather up a group of sticks and try to do the same thing. You’ll find it a lot harder to break even one of the sticks now that they are gathered in a group.

This same concept can be applied to your workforce. When employees are better connected, they are much more difficult to break. They can overcome nearly any difficulty together and keep productivity at maximum capacity with a combination of trust, communication, and teamwork.

The question now is, how do you help your employees become better connected? Every person and team is different, but the following tips should help you to improve the sense of connection in your workplace over time:

Improve Your Onboarding Process

Employee connection starts with the onboarding process. This process includes all of the actions you take to acclimate new members of your team to the company. With a proper onboarding process, even your newest employees can feel connected to the team from day one.

One method you can consider is a mentorship program. This assigns a tenured employee to the new hire to help answer their questions, complete training, and simply be a new friend in the workplace. New employees will start off with a work buddy they can rely on and communicate with as they become more familiar with their new position and get to know the rest of the team.

Stay Connected Online

Keeping team members connected was a struggle many companies encountered during the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. With entire organizations sheltering in place, there were no more team lunches, water cooler convos, or other daily interactions that occur naturally in an office space. What to do?

Managers and leaders got creative by using software programs to keep their employees connected online. This was primarily done through videoconference meetings that allowed teams to connect even while working from home. Perhaps the most value, though, was found through specialized apps such as project management software. These tools kept teams in sync and provided text channels for sharing documents, updates, and even some silly images.

The beauty of these software applications is that they can be used just as effectively by in-office teams as remote ones. Employees can send quick messages without having to get up from their desks, whether it’s to ask a simple question or share a laugh during the workday.

Meet Outside of Work

Full-time employees spend roughly 40 hours a week at their place of work, whether that’s in-office or remote. That’s a significant portion of their lives. The people they work with become more than just co-workers; they’re almost like an extended family. To make sure your work family continues to get along, plan some opportunities for them to connect outside of the work environment.

Common events companies will put together include team luncheons and dinners. Everyone appreciates a good meal on the house, but such gatherings also allow co-workers to spend time together and talk about more than just work. This allows teammates to form deeper relationships as they get to know their colleagues’ personal interests.

There are so many options you can consider here. Take your employees and their families to the water park on a summer weekend. Rent out a movie theater for an evening or organize a game night. As long as everyone is there and having fun, it should be a win in your book.

Hire for Soft Skills

An underrated aspect of team connectivity is hiring the right type of people. There are certain individuals who just aren’t compatible with others, and they can really get your team out of sync. Prioritizing soft skills when you hire people will help with that.

When interviewing an applicant, assessing their communication skills and personality traits can be just as important as combing through their résumé. One of your candidates might not boast the most experience, but they could be a fast learner and have a positive impact on the office culture.

Be very careful when making these sorts of decisions, though, as you don’t want to fall prey to bias. You shouldn’t automatically dismiss a job candidate just because you don’t immediately feel comfortable with them. Make sure you ask all candidates the same questions and give them the same assessments to ensure you’re evaluating each contender fairly. Your goal should be a diverse group of contributors who can work harmoniously together, not a team full of Mini-Mes.

Embrace Spontaneity

Even the best leaders can fall victim to micromanagement from time to time. You may be accidentally quelling some team connection without even realizing it. Sure, you want your employees to work hard, but sometimes embracing the spontaneity of certain moments can lead to greater productivity in the future.

For instance, the first reaction a manager might have to a group chit-chatting in the break room is to tell everyone to get back to work. At times this will be necessary, such as stopping inappropriate behavior or restarting work that has been brought to a standstill for too long. However, allowing your employees to converse at least relatively freely allows them to connect and build relationships that will be helpful for future collaboration.

The benefits of improved employee connectivity are pretty plain to see. Start building those connections within your organization today, and by the end of 2022, you should see a positive difference.

Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko; Pexels; Thank you!

6 Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive

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Six Ways Make Meetings More Productive

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to become more successful. How can managers help bring meetings with a better outcome?

Meetings take up a lot of our time at work, but how much do they truly accomplish? According to Korn Ferry’s study, meetings rarely do what we set out to accomplish. Furthermore, more than two-thirds (67%) of employees report that spending too much time in meetings and on phone conversations prevented them from having an effective workday.

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to become more successful. This topic has been of much interest in the last few years. Are we getting better with our meetings and making them produce what we set out to create? So, what can leaders and managers do to help bring about better meeting results?

The Front Stage Meetings

1. Think of the meeting as the ‘front stage,’ and prepare for them by working hard on the ‘backstage.’ And don’t ignore the priorities.

“While many meetings are routine,” says Dr. Shameen Prashantham, professor of international business and strategy at China Europe International Business School and author of Gorillas Can Dance, “others feel there should still be an improvement to meetings on every level.”

2. Give yourself time to “check-in.”

We never start a meeting without ‘checking in,’ says Fiona Logan, CEO of Insights, a worldwide people development firm. Checking in with each person briefly enables participants to completely participate by discussing what’s on their minds, how they’re feeling, or what they want to gain from the meeting. Then the meeting becomes a time management situation.

Checking in, according to Logan, helps individuals understand and empathize with their colleagues, fostering connection and trust. It also allows them to change their mentality from before the meeting to where they need to be during the session.

“This promotes participant participation, which typically leads to a happy and effective meeting,” she explains. Logan also suggests scheduling 45-minute meetings instead of hour-long sessions since it keeps everyone engaged for the length of the discussion.

Productive Focus

3. Focus on results rather than updates even when considering your new software or scheduling apps.

Suppose executives evaluate the expense of bringing their colleagues together for the conference. Some believe that meetings must provide at least twice as much value as they used to. Prepare by thinking about outputs, not updates, the next time you chair a meeting and make it as output-oriented as possible so that everyone arrives at the table with their thinking hat on and not their dinner plans.

4. Distribute reports ahead of time.

“Don’t waste meeting time presenting papers,” urges Annelise Ly, an associate professor at the Norwegian School of Economics and a CEMS Global Alliance in Management Education member. Instead, ask your partners to read information ahead of time and go right into the topic when you meet. The direct approach keeps people interested and cuts down on meeting time.

5. Take command of the discussion. Know when time is being wasted.

“Deep discussion and disagreement in meetings is a critical trait for creating innovation and ensuring that teams will grow and prosper,” says David Liddle, CEO of TCM and author of Transformational Culture. However, he cautions that heated debate may quickly devolve into something harmful and dysfunctional.

Managers can no longer afford to sit back and let the argument evolve. Instead, a manager needs to lead by taking on the role of facilitator. Liddle contends that providing safe places where open, honest debate can take place, and a variety of views can be put forth, leads to better team acceptance and fosters a tighter-knit group.

“Helping our people to disagree constructively,” says Liddle, “is the goal of healthy discussion.”

6. When gathering electronically, plan and speak in short spurts.

Everyone has had ‘Zoom fatigue,” says one prominent doctor of business, Dr. Amanda Nimon-Peters of Hult International Business School in the United Kingdom. Dr. Nimon-Peters is also the author of the forthcoming book Working With Influence. She continues, “That’s because, when we stupidly approach virtual meetings as if they were real meetings, they become tiresome and unpleasant.”

While our technology has advanced to allow for distant meetings, Nimon-Peters points out that our minds have not.
We suffer subconscious discomfort because of a perceived closeness that the simulated distance between video conference participants.

Successful online teams, according to Nimon-Peters, interact in bursts rather than in back-to-back, conference-length conversations. Participants must also plan ahead of time to make their time together as productive and interesting as possible.

Are all Meetings Poppycock?

Not at all. No meeting has to be futile or pointless. The key is to get to the main points of the meeting and get to it first. Be prepared ahead of time and never hesitate to redirect the conversation.

If things are not going as planned — don’t be afraid to close one door and open another — one that’s more productive. Don’t facilitate the time wasters, over-talkers, or indecisive ones. Instead, come with a plan, execute that plan — then leave on time.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

Six Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

4 Simple Things to Do Every Evening to Make Your Mornings Easier

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4 Things Every Evening Make Mornings Easier

Mornings are supposed to be calm and relaxed, welcoming the new day ahead. And yet, more often than not, they are rushed and chaotic as you scramble to get out the door in time. Add young children into the mix as well as partners, pets, or roommates, and you have yourself a full-on nightmare each day. That’s no way to greet the new day; however, it’s a habit many of us have fallen into.

Thankfully, there are ways to prep the night ahead to set yourself up for success in the a.m. Even if you are exhausted and ready to call it quits, setting some time aside to prepare for the next day is beneficial to your mind and body. It may also shave off a few minutes of the allotted time, allowing you to have a more calm, established morning routine.

Obviously, the pandemic has changed all of our schedules. So knowing how to set yourself up for a breezy morning can be easier said than done. Not sure where to start? Read on for four simple things to do this evening to make tomorrow morning even easier. Your future self thanks you.

1. Check Your Schedule

Before you close out of work for the day, look at your calendar or schedule for the next day. See what you need to get done tomorrow and what tasks you need to carry over from today. Knowing what is ahead can ease your mind. And you can also proactively change or move meetings to accommodate your schedule better.

Of course, if you are a parent, you also need to be on top of your children’s and perhaps your partner’s schedules. For example, if your youngest child has soccer practice after school, you’ll need to decide who is in charge of dropoff and pickup. Or, if your child is on snacktime duty tomorrow, you’ll need to quickly figure out what 30 individually packaged snacks look like.

These are all items you and your partner can discuss the night before. Doing so will help alleviate any unnecessary tension in the morning.

2. Plan and Pack Up

Planning and packing up considers all things that you need to either wear or bring to work tomorrow. This includes figuring out what you will wear by checking the weather forecast. Laying out your clothes or hanging them on one hanger can save precious time getting ready. While you’re at it, put your shoes by the door as well.

You’ll also want to pack your bag, ensuring you have all your devices and chargers at the ready. How many times have you left home without your laptop charger? Guilty. Once your bag is ready, place it by the door, so it’s one less thing to think about. The same goes for any of your children’s backpacks.

3. Do Your Food Prep

The worst time to think about what’s for lunch is in the morning when you’re feeling rushed. Leaving your food prep to the morning is also another way for you to wind up just getting another overpriced takeout lunch again. While you’re cleaning up dinner, go ahead and make your lunch and put it in the fridge. It can be helpful to designate one shelf in the refrigerator to everything that you — or your family — need to grab in the morning. No lunch or water bottle left behind with this trick.

This can also be the time when you prep your breakfast. Smoothies, chia pudding, and oatmeal are all excellent grab n’go morning noshes. If you’re a coffee drinker, now is the time to either pre-set your machine or at the very least pull out your to-go mug and grind the beans. Meal planning the night before can help save you time and money. It can also be a healthy jumpstart, knowing that you have homemade (or at least home prepped) meals waiting for you when you rise.

4. Tidy Up

Ok, cleaning is likely the last thing you want to do after a long day. That said, waking up to a filthy or messy house is the last thing you want to see when you open your eyes in the morning. So doing a quick tidying up the night before can be beneficial to how you start the next day. It helps close out the day and transition yourself out of work mode into nighttime mode.

We aren’t saying you need to pull out the vacuum cleaner, per-see. But doing small tasks like wiping down the counters can mean smooth sailing in the a.m. If you live with others, you can make this a family chore or a roommate task. Ask everyone to go around the house and pick up any loose clothes off the floor or help load the dishwasher. It’ll take less time when everyone is involved, and maybe a chance for the mess to not happen in the first place.

Takeaways

A productive, less stressful morning starts the night before. Whether you are a morning person or not, these four tips will help you feel better and calmer each morning. By checking your schedule and planning ahead, you’ll know what to expect and how to approach the next day.

And by doing all of your meal prep and tidying your space, you will fall asleep knowing you really have to grab and go before heading out the door. So start implementing these tips today and start welcoming more calmer mornings.

4 Simple Things to Do Every Evening to Make Your Mornings Easier was originally published on Calendar by Choncé Maddox.

Image Credit: Lisa Fotios; Pexels; Thank you!

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