business tips Archives - Appointment - Online Appointment Scheduling Software

7 Ways to Make Your Waiting Room Cozier This Fall

By | Business Tips | No Comments
7 Ways to Make Your Waiting Room Cozier This Fall

Your waiting room is the place where you make a first impression on your customers. There’s nothing worse than walking into a dirty, unkempt, and unwelcoming waiting area. For whatever reason people find themselves in such a room, it should feel like a safe space for what’s next. Waiting rooms are an opportunity to make your clients feel well cared for and valued.

Are you looking to create a more pleasant waiting room experience for your customers this fall? Instead of going full-blown pumpkin patch, create a cozy, simple environment with these tips:

1. Change up outdated seasonal elements.

The season has turned, so replace the summer magazines with fall ones. Take down the beach artwork and hang up some fall-themed artwork instead. Keep decorations cool and classy by opting for smaller, muted-colored elements instead of large, colorful pieces. Swap out your summer throw pillows and rug for a fall-feeling oasis.

It should go without saying that you need to keep your waiting room clean. But customers will like seeing that your business goes the extra mile to update the space along with the seasons.

2. Add some light fall scents.

An inviting space should engage all your customers’ senses, so don’t neglect the sense of smell. From fallen leaves to cloves and cinnamon, the aromas of fall are a delight, so consider adding these scents to your waiting room.

That said, be sure to select ones that account for people with sensitivities to strong fragrances. You want your waiting room to be pleasant and inviting, not headache-triggering. Lightly spray the room each morning before customers arrive or place reed diffusers around the room with a popular fall scent.

3. Create a kids corner.

Get creative with your kids’ corner in the fall. Have fall-themed activities to keep children busy in a designated area. Ditch the vacation-themed coloring books and replace them with pumpkins and farm animal pages. Opt for washable markers to ensure your young visitors’ artistic efforts don’t become permanent features of the space.

Create a specific project kids can do and display the results in the kids’ corner when they’re complete. You might, for example, ask children to write what they’re thankful for on a leaf-shaped cutout. Or connect the activity to your business: print coloring pages with a pumpkin dressed as a lawyer or a scarecrow holding a stethoscope. Remember to have a staff member tidy the corner up throughout the day to keep things neat.

4. Consider warmer lighting.

Say you manage a doctor’s or dentist’s office. Sure, people are there for medical care, but your waiting room shouldn’t make them feel like they’re already on the exam table. Bright white fluorescent lighting might be the default in most business settings, but it’s hardly your only option.

To warm up your waiting area, consider lighting alternatives that would make your visitors feel more welcome. Try yellow lights, Edison light bulbs, or lamp lighting around the room. A golden glow equals a perfect fall day.

5. Offer seasonal treats and refreshments.

Fall is harvest time, so treat your customers to the bounty of the season by offering seasonal refreshments. This can be as simple as setting out a basket of fresh fruit, such as apples or pears. If you’re feeling more ambitious, provide individually wrapped pastries made with recently harvested fruits. Fall-themed granola or trail mix is an easy on-the-go snack.

Once the weather starts cooling down, offer beverage options besides water and coffee. Hot tea, apple cider, or cocoa will warmly welcome your customers and make your space smell delicious.

6. Bring in plants.

For an instant homey feeling, add a few low-maintenance plants to your waiting area. Use fall-colored pots to bring warmth to the area. No window? No worries. Plants like pothos and philodendrons will thrive in little to no sunlight in the autumn weather. Not only do they make your waiting room more inviting, but these plants provide additional oxygen in your space.

Not into having to water plants but open to fresh flowers? Grocery stores usually have beautiful fall bouquets filled with red and orange hues that scream fall. Pick up a bouquet once a week to add to the coffee table, adding instant life and a focal point to the room.

7. Establish a clear and friendly check-in process.

Cozy doesn’t just mean a snuggly blanket. To feel comfortable, visitors must feel welcome. By greeting clients with a smiling face, you’re already creating a welcoming check-in process.

While they’re checking in, mention the autumnal treats they can help themselves to. If they have children in tow, point out the fall-themed activities in your kids corner. In case your front desk staff gets busy, clear signage can instruct arriving clients on the check-in process so they don’t stand around awkwardly.

By creating a cozier environment, you will usher in a positive customer service experience for your clients. Through thoughtful snacks, lighting, and scents, you’ll show that you pay close attention to detail. This will resonate with your clients and convince them they’ve come to the right place for their service. First impressions matter, and you’ll be off to a great start by following these tips.

Featured Image Credit: Curtis Adams; Pexels.com. Thank you!

Level Up Customer Service: 3 Methods for Your Business

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Level Up Customer Service: 3 Methods for Your Business

Businesses may refer to them as customers, clients, patrons, shoppers, consumers, purchasers, or something different. Whatever name they choose, it describes the people they need for their business to survive…and the ongoing need to level up customer service.

All other things being equal, such as product, quality, and price point, customer service is what sets competitors apart. Consequently, it takes great customer service to bring people in, entice them back, and keep them loyal. That’s the stuff successful enterprises are made of.

Businesses that believe their customer service is delivering everything they can should beware of complacency. This is one part of doing business that requires constant feeding and attention. Customer desires are always changing, and businesses need to keep pace at a minimum — and set the pace if possible.

Even businesses that think they’re at the top of their customer service game should be looking for ways to level up. Here’s how they can serve their customers even better.

1. Adopt a continuous improvement model.

Customer service is a long game. It’s also one that touches every single internal business process, from setting prices through service after the transaction. That means it touches every tool used along the way.

Businesses should continuously assess their online scheduling software, customer data collection and management systems, and automated phone systems. And they should do so through a customer-centric lens. Does the business put the customer first in everything it does?

There’s a reason why this model is called “continuous” as opposed to “continual.” The former is uninterrupted while the latter occurs periodically.

Businesses tend to look at these systems only in annual reviews or while planning, when they should be business as usual. If a customer calls with a problem and it’s resolved, that experience should inform the next one. The information about the issue and the resolution needs to be shared with all staff to level up customer service across the organization.

Continuous improvement across the board, from appointment scheduling to payment systems, is vital to customer satisfaction. A business stands to lose 63% of customers who think they had a poor experience. Put the customer first everywhere in the business, without interruption, and improve service every day, all the time.

2. Make customer service training systematic.

There are a couple of key factors in stellar customer service. One is that everyone in the business should know how to deliver it and focus on doing so. Second is that customer service practice is always changing, which means the people delivering it need ongoing training.

Require customer service training to some degree in every employee position, from front of the house to back.

Often, individual employees are working on their own with their own customers. How is individual input shared routinely among all employees so they can all improve how they deliver their services?

Great customer service isn’t as easy as just being polite and accommodating. Solving customer complaints and issues involves asking the right questions, which not everyone knows how to do. Companies can’t count on the customer being able to express a problem, which makes questioning crucial to a good experience.

Businesses should provide ongoing, routine training on the mechanics of customer service. At the same time, they need to systematically use real customer service issues to continuously improve delivery. Managers must devote time to coaching, mentoring, and rewarding good practices.

Making customer service training systematic in a business supports that customer-centric focus. There are myriad customer service training tools even the smallest businesses can use to teach their employees how to build relationships. Use the right ones often and deliberately. Doing so will move customer satisfaction in the right direction.

3. Make the business more accessible to more customers.

Making a business more accessible to more customers means opening the doors to a much larger pool of prospects. However, accessibility goes far beyond making those doors wider or constructing wheelchair curb transitions. It also involves more than a business’s physical space.

Physical space considerations include button-activated doors, braille and audio wayfinding systems, and consistent flooring. Although laws prohibit most denials of service animals, businesses can go further. They can provide water, snacks, and relief areas for these animal helpers as well.

Customers who tend to be accompanied by children will appreciate kid-friendly spaces. Those who find children disruptive appreciate it when common spaces are designed to keep kids from disturbing them. As a result, when done cleverly, businesses can make customers in both camps happy.

Businesses should provide print and online forms and information in more than one language. Employing bilingual employees or subscribing to language translation services will likewise improve service to non-native speakers of English. To better accommodate the visually impaired, employees could learn how to use WhatsApp and its accessibility features.

Differently abled people make up a significant portion of our population. Being differently abled doesn’t mean they aren’t consumers…with money to spend! Businesses that accommodate those differences may find themselves opening their automatic doors to future loyalists.

We can always do better!

Regardless of what a business is doing right now to serve customers, it can do better.

Unless a business is the only one of its type in town, it’s going to need to find ways to be competitive. Going above and beyond in its customer service efforts will distinguish it from the others. And that will make all the difference.

The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Creative Mural on Building

The cornerstones of productivity are staying organized, mission-driven, and efficient. But, staying creative shouldn’t come at the expense of those pillars. On the contrary, creativity is becoming an increasingly valuable asset in the workplace for both individuals and teams.

Furthermore, the World Economic Forum states that creativity is or is related to nine of the ten skills that will define the world in 2020 and beyond. In addition to increasing confidence and collaboration, being creative increases problem-solving skills.

But that’s not all. In business, creativity has the following benefits.

Goes hand-in-hand with innovation.

Innovation requires two ingredients: novelty and utility. Unfortunately, despite the importance of creativity in generating unique and original ideas, they’re not always practical. Creative solutions, however, are essential for innovative solutions.

Leads to productivity.

Creativity fosters productivity as long as the work environment allows them to coexist. As a result, creativity can lead to productivity in the following ways:

  • Prevents getting stuck in a rut.
    • There’s nothing wrong with routines. However, sometimes you need to shake things up and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Doing so will expose you to fresh ideas and perspectives.
  • Solves bigger problems.
    • You and employees will be able to see the bigger picture and focus their energy on issues that significantly impact the company when creative thinking is encouraged. When employees can apply these efforts to bigger-picture problems rather than simply churning out work, they are more productive — and the business thrives.
  • When employees are encouraged to be creative, their workplaces will be changed for the better.
    • Motivation comes from allowing people to make a tangible, visible difference in their workplace. You don’t want to feel like a drone, mindlessly completing tasks without any apparent impact on your life.
  • People get emotionally involved in it.
    • Quite simply, work without passion is tedious — especially for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Some people, however, require a little more motivation to spark that passion at work. Participating in the creative process empowers workers, regardless of their department or role.
  • By promoting creativity, failure becomes less likely.
    • People need the freedom to fail if they are going to foster a creative environment. Creative environments that fear failure are crippled and hamstring the flow of ideas. As a result of fear, we tend to color outside the lines, preventing us from identifying new and more effective ways of working, improving processes, streamlining operations, and creating new products.

Provides adaptability.

It may not always be necessary to adjust your business model when creatively addressing challenges. For example, to improve the efficiency of your operations, you might develop new products or services. However, don’t reject an idea because it doesn’t match the scale of a problem.

Business is a world of constant change, and adapting to it requires creative solutions.

Growth depends on it.

The idea that there is only one way to approach or interpret a situation or challenge is one of the main hindrances to a business’s growth.

It’s easy to fall into cognitive fixedness because it can be tempting to approach every situation the same way you have in the past. There are, however, differences between each situation.

A company’s leaders can stagnate if they do not take the time to understand the circumstances they face, foster creative thinking, and act on findings.

The skill is in demand.

Top industries like health care and manufacturing value creativity and innovation. It is mainly due to the complexity of challenges faced by every industry.

How to Encourage Creativity in the Workplace

So, we know that creativity is essential. But, how exactly can you encourage creativity in the workplace?

1. Schedule opportunities for creative thinking.

“Creative thinking can often be overlooked if it doesn’t get time on our calendars,” writes Nathan Rawlins in CIO. “There will always be more meetings and tasks to check off our lists, so it’s important to actually book time for creative activities.”

For example, hackathons have resulted in significant updates for our product offerings. In two to three days, teams spend a lot of time thinking creatively, collaborating, and testing out ideas outside the box. “The results are fantastic features that bring value to both the product and the company,” adds Rawlins. “Additionally, these events boost morale and demonstrate our commitment to creativity and innovation.”

2. Instill autonomy.

Increased responsibility and autonomy will likely lead to the generation of more ideas, as well as a greater sense of pride and confidence in your team’s skills.

Broadly, this could allow your team to work however they want, instead of micromanaging. More specifically, you let your team choose the agenda when meeting one-on-one.

3. Implement flexible work hours.

Consider offering flexible or work-from-home hours for specific roles requiring only an internet connection. When employees work from home, they can think more clearly, come up with more innovative ideas, and reduce their stress levels.

Establish clear expectations and guidelines to ensure steady productivity at home. And plan a flexible schedule that suits managers and their teams and the company’s requirements.

4. Don’t worry about “how.”

“Leaders unknowingly weaken their team’s creativity by focusing too early on implementation,” says Lisa Guice, Lisa Guice Global-Vision, LLC. “The fastest way to kill the creative process is by requiring your team to produce tactical solutions in tandem with creative ideas.”

This not only stifles the creative flow but also shifts the work environment into a “produce while editing” mindset, which results in a diminished individual contribution.”

5. De-silo your organization.

For innovative teamwork to take place, it is essential that a collaborative and social environment is created. Managers will notice a significant difference when they take steps to “de-silo” their organizations.

In addition to working on their own projects, employees can interact with colleagues in other departments and learn more about the company. As a result, ideas and inspiration will flow freely throughout departments, sparking workplace creativity.

Furthermore, humor is great for team building, inclusivity, and creativity.

What if you have a primarily remote or hybrid team? You might want to set up a Slack or similar chat channel called “water cooler.” By doing so, your employees can engage in some friendly office banter. Or, at the end of your team meetings, schedule time for everyone to discuss their plans for the weekend.

Playfulness creates a sense of belonging and safety, inspiring creativity.

6. Get walking.

Regarding fresh thinking, walking is one of the oldest and most effective sources. “Walking meetings” were a popular method used by Steve Jobs to foster connection and creativity with coworkers and collaborators.

In addition, Harvard Medical School researchers found that walking meetings enhanced creativity by 5.25% and engagement by 8.5%. Stanford University researchers also discovered that walking increased creative thinking by 60%. The movement itself energizes the brain, regardless of how long or where it takes place.

7. Don’t let good ideas go to waste.

Incentives should be provided to encourage employees to share their ideas. One suggestion is to implement the best ideas and to acknowledge other people’s efforts. To let the employee know you plan to implement their ideas, I suggest you personalize your message. Finally, if the change is successful, notify the team of the inspiration behind it.

To foster innovation, it is important to address and publicly commend good ideas. As a result, team members feel more inspired to share their ideas and opinions.

8. Encourage self-reflection.

You’ll find that your employees become absorbed in their work and forget the importance of what they’re doing when the workload picks up. To combat this, make check-ins for self-reflection a habit for employees. By doing this exercise, they are inspired to see things from a different perspective, both in terms of what they have achieved and what lies ahead.

Your team can also see the concrete results of their hard work and innovative solutions by sharing monthly or quarterly achievements.

9. Allow for failure.

When you ask your employees for their creative input, ensure they know you don’t expect perfection or thoroughly polished work. To be able to take risks without negative consequences, staff members need to be allowed to develop plans that go awry. The ability to fail wisely is a valuable skill for managers and companies.

“Once [employees] see, firsthand, the value of putting out what we call a ‘low-resolution prototype’ and getting feedback from a key constituent, and seeing how that direct[s] the next step, people start to become believers in that process,” explains Graham Henshaw, executive director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, on the W&M Leadership and Business podcast. “[Innovators must have] an openness to risk… You’re willing to take risks where you might fail, but you learn something from that failure and move forward,” he continued, emphasizing, “[You need] a tolerance for ambiguity…you’re withholding that need for immediate closure.”

10. Set a tone of risk-taking.

Most professionals feel that their firms and departments are not taking enough risks. However, the risk is essential to enhance your business’s competitive advantage and encourage workplace creativity.

When appropriate, empower employees to make bold decisions and push them to take calculated risks instead of micromanaging them.

The Importance of Creativity in the Workplace was originally published on Calendar.com by Deanna Ritchie. Featured Image Credit: NextVoyage; Pexels. Thank you!

How Not to Dread Returning to Work After Time Off

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Office Worker Slumped Over Desk

How did you spend your recent vacation? Did you soak up the sun at the beach or go hiking in the mountains? Maybe you backpacked through Europe, took a family road trip, or simply had a relaxing staycation. Everything seems to be going well until you realize that returning to work awaits you on the last day of vacation. And, it starts with a capital W.

No. Your mind isn’t playing tricks on you. We all hate going back to work after vacation. In fact, it’s a phenomenon that’s been studied numerous times. As an example, a Zapier / Harris Poll found that 87% of knowledge workers dread returning to work after taking a vacation.

But, why? The following tasks are among the most dreaded.

  • Reestablishing a routine – 37 percent.
  • Getting caught up with administrative tasks – 31 percent.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by busy work – 27 percent.
  • Post-vacation blues – 27 percent.
  • Dealing with piles of unread emails/messages – 26 percent.
  • Being overwhelmed by a busy schedule – 25 percent.
  • Not being in the loop about tasks – 23 percent.
  • Catching up on missed work while feeling unproductive – 20 percent.
  • Missing an important decision made while they were away – 18 percent.
  • A delay in a project caused by their absence – 18 percent.
  • Having trouble managing their projects – 17 percent.

Hanging On to Vacation Benefits Upon Return

Psychologist Jeroen Nawijn, who has studied how vacations affect the quality of life, tells Popular Science that people generally feel rejuvenated after a vacation. However, these benefits tend to disappear after they return home. “They most likely feel best during vacation because they have more freedom to do what they want,” he explains.

Suzanne Degges-White, a therapist at Northern Illinois University and chair of the department of counseling and higher education, agrees. “Once we get back into the work world, the majority of us have to answer to someone about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and when we’ll be done,” she says.

In addition, she says that going on vacation doesn’t alleviate all of our responsibilities and quandaries. “Many people dread the return as they know that problems may have stacked up in their absence. There may be a pile of new requests of their time on top of the unfinished tasks they left behind,” Degges-White explains.

Additionally, she points out the impact of switching from a more flexible sleep schedule on vacation to a more rigid and regimented bedtime schedule during the week. Moreover, overeating (and drinking, if that is your thing) can lead to sluggishness. And, it can also negatively impact wellbeing.

At the same time, you don’t have to let the good times go after the vacation has ended.

1. Plan before you go.

Before leaving for vacation, prepare for returning to work.

As soon as you begin planning your vacation, you should consider what potential problems or events could distract you. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to start any big projects. Be sure to complete any urgent tasks before you depart if there are any deadlines during your absence.

If you’re going away, plan ahead and get your team to assist you while you’re away. I’d also suggest that you reciprocate while they are away.

Some other tips include:

  • Tackle your priorities ASAP.
  • Don’t burn yourself out before your vacation.
    • There’s nothing like front-loading what you can. “But, you still need to take breaks to rest and recharge,” he advises. “If I know, I have an upcoming vacation, I might put in a couple more hours of work each day.”
  • Clean your plate, don’t add more.
    • In Max’s case, this means not taking on any new assignments until he gets back home. “I also cut back on the number of meetings I accept so that I can focus mainly on my work.”

One final suggestion. Don’t forget to schedule your vacation days.

Let clients and coworkers know you’ll be away. If you’re on vacation, they should be respectful of your absence. It is unlikely that you will be bothered by people if they know you are on vacation — especially if you have given them several weeks’ notice.

2. Don’t disappear completely.

It may make more sense to be “largely” disconnected — even if the original idea is to completely disconnect.

That doesn’t mean you should scrap out-of-office messages altogether. Still, you might want to check your email periodically. In this way, you can stay up to date on what’s happening in the office. And, this also prevents your inbox from getting too cluttered.

Additionally, some messages may require your response. For example, as a freelancer, you may want to reply to potential clients about how long you are away. If you are available, let them know. Or, perhaps you can refer them to someone who can help.

3. Schedule a buffer day.

Whenever you are considering how many leave days to take off, consider a buffer day or two as well. It’s these days that give you a chance to reorient yourself at home after your vacation. For example, when you get home, you can unpack, do laundry, bond with your pets, and go shopping for essentials.

In short, having a buffer day gives you time to unpack your bags, do your laundry, go grocery shopping, and prep your meals for the week instead of doing so after work.

4. Check your calendar.

Make sure you check your calendar the day before you return to work so you are not surprised by unforeseen meetings or tasks. If you do encounter unexpected surprises, consider whether you can handle them without too much preparation.

And, if possible, postpone them until you can contribute meaningfully.

5. Stay in stealth mode.

Your boss, colleagues, clients, and immediate reports may be aware that you’ve returned. In any case, there is no harm in waiting a couple of days before broadcasting your return to the real world.

Why? With selective stealth, you can catch up and return to normal life without being rushed or distracted.

6. Divide your first day back into time blocks.

Break up your first day back at work after vacation into blocks of time. And, don’t forget to take regular breaks. One rule of thumb is the 52/17 Rule. Here you would work for 52-minutes and then take 17-minutes.

On your first day back at work, do not feel pressured to work hard. Once you’ve returned from vacation, it’s important to give your body and mind some time to adjust. And, time blocks can do just that while also helping you focus on your priorities.

7. Get organized.

Getting organized is the first thing you should do when you return to work. For some, this might mean putting yourself in a good physical or mental state. As such, you might want to engage in some physical activity to release endorphins.

Keeping your office or workspace tidy is another suggestion. This should also be done before you leave for vacation, so you’ll be able to return to a clean work environment. If not, use your post-vacation to clean and organize this area. Or, use this as an excuse to finally spruce up your workspace.

8. Make work fun.

Use your first week back to accomplish things you actually enjoy. Maybe this could be scheduling lunch with a coworker where you exchange vacation stories. Or, you could embrace gamification in the workplace.

You can also make work fun with these practices.

  • Start the day with a playlist that gets you pumped and motivated.
  • Review your past accomplishments and track the progress of your goals.
  • Decorate your workspace.
  • Put on clothes that will make you happier and more confident at work.
  • Bring your dog to work — or let them stay with you in your home office.
  • Whenever you complete a task on your to-do list, reward yourself with a healthy snack or victory lap outside.
  • Plan an out-of-work activity with coworkers.

9. Don’t go full throttle.

You shouldn’t be too rigid about what you expect for your return to work — whether you plan to take it easy or jump right into the fire. After all, there’s a possibility that your plan for a slow and easy return may turn out to be a lot faster than you expect.

Make time for self-care, pace yourself, and ask for extensions when necessary. You will be less stressed and less overwhelmed if you are kind to yourself during this transition.

10. Take a piece of your vacation with you to work.

When you return to work after vacation, bring a souvenir that is appropriate for the office, such as a coffee mug, mouse pad, pen, desk ornament, or framed picture of your trip. It has been found that recalling vacations and other adventures can provide great pleasure, according to UC Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, Myths of Happiness.

A souvenir can bring back happy memories that can motivate you through the daily monotony of your work.

How Not to Dread Returning to Work After Time Off was originally published on Calendar.com by Albert Costill. Featured Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; Pexels.com. Thank you!

The Power of Simplicity: Avoiding Workplace Complications

By | Business Tips | No Comments
simplicity

It’s not always easy to achieve simplicity. What does that mean, and why? We make most things in our lives difficult, and they don’t have to be. Life is simple, but we persist in making it complicated. — So said Confucius in 500 B.C.

Firstly, life may be more difficult for you because of the tremendous flood of information and technology. Simplicity has become impossible, especially in businesses. For instance. Try scheduling a Zoom meeting at the last minute — what happens?

How We Complicate It All

Consider the daily barrage of elements: calendar invitations, metrics, measurements, methods to account for things, technology, too many permissions, paperwork, unnecessary tasks, etc. We often generate complication instead of simplicity. We generate it by over-correcting and creating exceptions — and staying in meeting-mania-mode.

Secondly, some people make up for poor performers with crazy workarounds. We frequently over-engineer solutions to make people feel better about participating in a process. Much of it is superfluous — but really, it’s us.

The technique of complicated workarounds has several drawbacks: weariness, lack of results, dissatisfaction, shattered passion, execution expenses, and employees leaving companies.

Or could this be you? Talk for about a half-hour, then send a letter of agreement to finalize the sale.

What is the cost of making that choice in any company? Multiply that amount by all of their choices. And all of their meetings.

Why Simplicity Helps Businesses

Businesses that aim for simplicity have an edge. Here is one lesson learned in the 1990s. The mortgage application procedure was excruciating for prospective customers. Consequently, the banks and lenders just blew up the process, making it more client-friendly, and they were able to see tremendous growth.

Use a Devotion to Simplicity

The evidence backs this up. Heidrick & Struggles studied Fortune 500 “super accelerators” and discovered devotion to simplicity. They incorporate simplicity as a way of living, thinking, and working — and this allows them swiftly identify and reallocate resources to the essential opportunities, the report’s authors wrote. Teams who followed these rules fared better financially. Simplicity pays.

Think: Fast. Simple. Good. Done.

This is the foundation of a “Fast. Simple. Good. Done” mentality with clients and employees and a game-changing mentality that combines these four interconnected components to boost performance. Change to this motto and see the results.

How To Be Simple

Experts frequently tell customers to act as a private equity business. History or connections do not bind customers, so they may make various simple judgments about how they do their tasks. However, this is a liberating and powerful perspective for your work. Moreover, many of us feel the influence of our emotions trickle into our actions and choices.

Think: Simplify now or sink later.

To meet simple, we must think differently. Many experts typically have groups of ten people pass a ball around in a circle, stressing it must contact each person’s hands.

Try this game with your team.

Managers schedule their first round and give them some planning time. Some experts have many groups do this little exercise simultaneously to make it competitive. Then we celebrate the winner. When the advice is to reduce their time in half, the room erupts, and they experiment and typically succeed. Next, some experts instruct the team to double their time.

Now they say the manager (boss) is insane. Finally, the victorious team should join hands and have one person sweep the ball around, touching the hands (this is what you want the team to finally come to.

Think: We must alter our mentality. Simplicity will win, hands down.

How?

1. Take a figurative weed-whacker to your old methods. Be brutal as you simplify.

That is to say, don’t hold back simply because that’s how you’ve always done it.

2. Communicate concisely.

Moreover, say anything you want to say on a bumper sticker.

3. Consider your audience.

The point of reference is usually a bright, retired 95-year-old mother. However, is it basic enough for her to grasp even if she has no prior experience?

4. Simplify all decision-making.

Who is the lowest-level decision-maker?

5. Aim for outcomes. Simplicity goals.

However, time is money, so act appropriately.

6. Define your requirements.

Do we need it? What can we do? How can we speed up? Re-purpose the surplus for good.

7. Get a review of your processes.

Examine it with a neutral party. One who believes in simplicity.

8. Be brave in the scene cuts. No excess talk or processes at work.

Say no to complications.

9. Accept flaws.

The pursuit of perfection is costly. One and done is a good motto. Or, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

10. Lastly, review your to-do list and prioritize chores.

That is to say, remove meetings, reports, etc., and observe whether anybody notices/needs them.

Defend simplicity.

Expert opinion advises that your firm, workers, and shareholders will benefit greatly from shaving down the minutes needed on processes, in meetings, and on perfect projects.

Think: Like a Zen Master.

How simple can you make scheduling a meeting? And then, how can you introduce disruptive simplicity into each meeting? Impossible? Unproductive? UnAmerican? Nonsense. Decide to be one of the greatest business executives — and think like a Zen master.

Think: Like Henry Ford.

For instance, Henry Ford set an egg time in meetings. Ten minutes. When it went off, he left. Anything left undecided or unexplained went to him as a memo. Ford executives were known for the brevity of their meetings. And Henry laughed all the way to the bank. You can do the same.

Image Credit: Anna Nekrashevich; Pexels; Thank you!

The Power Of Simplicity: Avoiding Workplace Complications was originally published on Calendar by Abby Miller.

5 Tips for Encouraging Team Collaboration

By | Business Tips | No Comments
encouraging team collaboration

Collaboration has become a popular trend in the workplace, especially as it offers many benefits. For one, it helps employees feel more connected to one another. Working together as a team can also breed new ideas and enhance creativity, positively impacting your business and employees.

With that said, collaboration doesn’t always come naturally.

Not every company is set up to make working as a team a priority. Not to mention, with remote working, it can be difficult to connect in a meaningful way. This brief article can help. Here are five tips to encourage team collaboration.

1. Integrate the Right Technology

In today’s remote work environment, there’s a good chance your workers are spread out. Because of that, collaborating might not come as naturally.

It makes sense; communicating and forming connections can be difficult virtually. But there are ways you can make this easier for your team. Consider integrating technology that can help teams come together regardless of where they’re located.

For example, a communication platform, like Slack, ensures employees can chat, call, and even video call one another from anywhere. Project management platforms, like Asana and Monday.com, make it easy for teams to track and manage their projects online.

Having the right technology can go a long way in encouraging your team to work together. It can also help streamline tasks, and in turn, help your business grow.

Just make sure you do your research before adopting any type of technology to ensure it’ll work for your team.

2. Focus on Company Culture

Do you want your team to work together? Make sure that’s reflected within your company culture.

According to research, almost 50% of active job seekers say a company’s culture plays a role in why they’re looking for a new job. Creating a company culture that focuses on collaboration, honesty, and transparency can help you attract and retain the right employees.

There are several reasons why employees might not work jointly.

Sure, working remotely can play a role. But if your employees don’t feel valued or important, they’re less likely to share their ideas. On the other hand, when employees feel like their opinions matter, they might welcome the chance to collaborate with their teammates.

One way to create this type of company culture is to lead by example. Make sure you’re cooperative with the rest of the leadership team as well as your employees. Have an open door policy, and make it clear that you respect and want to hear from your team.

3. Set Clear Expectations

The first step to encouraging team collaboration is to set clear expectations.

You need to make it clear to employees that you expect them to work with one another. After all, how can they make this a goal if they were never told to?

Consider discussing the importance of collaboration during the interview process or while you’re onboarding new hires. The sooner you prioritize teamwork, the more likely your employees are to adapt to this mindset.

Integrating technology, as mentioned above, is a great start. With that said, having this software is just one step.

It’s also important your employees know that software exists and how to use it. This might mean scheduling a meeting with your team detailing how to use the technology. You could also create a step-by-step guide and send it out via email.

It’s crucial employees have the resources and the education needed to collaborate effectively.

4. Encourage Team Bonding

On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable do you feel working with people you don’t know? Many people answer that question with a low number. That’s often because it can be scary to share ideas with strangers.

To help your employees feel more comfortable, consider hosting regular team bonding events.

These could be company-wide or something you request supervisors do with their specific teams. Either way, it’ll provide employees the chance to connect. And don’t worry, these events can be also hosted virtually thanks to video calls. All you have to do is find a time and send an invite to get everyone together.

If you’re struggling to come up with team bonding activities, keep it simple. Your employees are busy, so having hour-long team bonding activities multiple times a week isn’t a good idea. On the other hand, scheduling a team bonding activity for an hour each month could work well.

5. Offer Praise

According to research, about 80% of employees say they feel better when recognized in the workplace.

It’s no secret that praise can help employees feel happier. The happier an employee the more productive they are at work.

You might be wondering exactly what this has to do with team collaboration. It’s simple really.

If you want your team to work together more often, consider praising those who do. For instance, maybe a group of co-workers got together to brainstorm an idea that ended up working well. Take the time to congratulate them.

You could even do it publicly, as that can help employees feel more recognized. This could be during a team meeting or on a designated board. This can boost morale and reinforce the importance of collaboration with your other workers.

Having a team that successfully works together in the workplace is an essential part of helping your company succeed. However, it’s not always easy to enforce, especially in today’s work-from-home environment. Luckily, the tips above can help.

Image Credit: Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thanks! 

Add These 101 Phrases to Your Calendar for Productivity

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Meetings Less Productive

Why do we love quotes? Well, many of us can be inspired by a quote on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. For example, when need to be re-energized when motivation has lost its luster. In addition, using quotes as a ‌guide‌ ‌can‌ ‌help‌ ‌us‌ ‌achieve‌ ‌specific‌ ‌goals and increase productivity.

Whatever reason you tap into the power quotes, the key is to keep them front and center. And, what better place to do that than by adding the following 101 phrases to your calendar for productivity. This way when you review your daily schedule or receive reminders, you’ll also get that much-needed productivity boost when needed.

1. “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” — Paul J. Meyer

2. “A wind that blows aimlessly is no good to anyone.” — Rick Riord​an

3. “Focus on being productive instead of busy.” — Tim Ferriss

4. “Lost time is never found again.” — Benjamin Franklin

5. “It’s not knowing what to do, it’s doing what you know.” –-Tony Robbins

6. “Use your mind to think about things, rather than think of them. You want to be adding value as you think about projects and people, not simply reminding yourself they exist.” — David Allen

7. “Luck is only important in so far as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you’ve got to have talent and know-how to use it.” — Frank Sinatra

8. “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”– Henry David Thoreau

9. “Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” — Dale Carnegie

10.. “Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.” — Delmore Schwartz

11. “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey

12. “Action is the foundational key to all success.” — Picasso

13. “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” — Bruce Lee

14. “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” — Theodore Roosevelt

15. “Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” — Franz Kafka

16. “If there are nine rabbits on the ground, if you want to catch one, just focus on one.” — Jack Ma

17. “Ordinary people think merely of spending time, great people think of using it.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

18. Stressing output is the key to improving productivity while looking to increase activity can result in just the opposite. — Paul Gauguin

19. “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.” — Oprah Winfrey

20. “Life is too complicated not to be orderly.” — Martha Stewart

21. “It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.” — Nathan W. Morris

22. “You may delay, but time will not.” — Benjamin Franklin23 “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” — Coco Chanel

23. “Don’t confuse the urgent with the important.” — Preston Ni.

24. “The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends, there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” — Thomas A. Edison

25. “The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” — Thomas Sowell

26. “Make each day your masterpiece.”– John Wooden

27. “My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” — Francine Jay

28. “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.” — Benjamin E. Mays

29. “The best way out is always through.” –– Robert Frost

30. “Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.” — Leo Babauta

31. “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker

32. “Position yourself to succeed by doing the other things in your life that rejuvenate you. Exhaustion affects your quality and productivity.” — Jeff VanderMeer

33. “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein

34. “Both good and bad days should end with productivity. Your mood affairs should never influence your work.” — Greg Evans

35. “You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment.” — Seth Godin

36. “Saying ‘I don’t have time’ really means ‘it’s not a priority.’ If someone offered you a ton of cash to do whatever you claim you don’t have time for…you’d probably find the time!” — Laura Vanderkam

37. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” — Stephen King

38. “Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks—cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.” — David Allen

39. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

40. “When one has much to put into them, a day has a hundred pockets.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

41. “Great acts are made up of small deeds.” — Lao Tzu

42. “‘Tomorrow’ is the thing that’s always coming but never arrives. ‘Today’ is the thing that’s already here and never leaves. And because that’s the case, I would much prefer to invest in today than sit around waiting for an arrival that’s not arriving.” — Craig D. Lounsbrough

43. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” — Walt Disney

44. “Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.” — Alan Watts

45. “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” — Muhammad Ali

46. “Time is not refundable; use it with intention.” — Unknown

47. “Effective performance is preceded by painstaking preparation” — Brian Tracy

48. You can’t get much done in life if you only work on days when you feel good. — Jerry West

49. “The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” — Tom Peters

50. “There is no waste in the world that equals the waste from needless, ill-directed, and ineffective motions.” — Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Sr.

51. “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” — Herb Kelleher

52. “You don’t get paid for the hour, you get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” — Jim Rohn

53. “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” — Zig Ziglar

54. “If you have time to whine then you have time to find solutions.” — Dee Dee Artner

55. “All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else.” — Plato

56. “Light tomorrow with today.”– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

57. “Don’t confuse activity with productivity. Many people are simply busy being busy.” — Robin Sharma

58. “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” –– Dwight D. Eisenhower

59. “Busy is a decision” — Debbie Millman

60. “People often say that motivation doesn’t last long. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” — Zig Ziglar

61. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” — Amelia Earhart

62. “There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over.” — John W. Bergman

63. “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.” — John F. Kennedy

64. “Just do what works for you because there will always be someone who thinks differently” — Michelle Obama

65. “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand. The Sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus” — Alexander Graham Bell

66. “Every day that I procrastinate, every day that I sit stagnant in fear, every day that I fail to better myself, someone else out there with the same goals and dreams as me is doing the exact opposite.”– Noel DeJesus

67. “Where your attention goes, your time goes” — Idowu Koyenikan

68. “I get to do what I like to do every single day of the year.” — Warren Buffett

69. “Pick a problem that hurts enough for enough people and go solve it – execution is much more important than the perfect idea.” — Cristina Junqueira

70. “If you commit to giving more time than you have to spend, you will constantly be running from time debt collectors.” — Elizabeth Grace Saunders

71. “Someday is not a day of the week.” — Janet Dailey

72. “Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.” — Caterina Fake

73. “Reflect on what you do in a day. You may have never realized how some simple, harmless activities rob you of precious time.” — Vivek Naik

74. “Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law” — Douglas R. Hofstadter

75. “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” — Karen Lamb

76. “The key to productivity is to rotate your avoidance techniques.” — Shannon Wheeler

77. “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Saint Francis of Assisi

78. “Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night.” — Michael Jordan

79. “Long-range planning works best in the short term.”– Doug Evelyn

80. “Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.” — Gretchen Rubin

81. “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes in a day.” — Denis Waitley

82. “The happier you are, the more productive you will become.” — Chris Bailey

83. “You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” — George Lorimer

84. “Don’t worry about breaks every 20 minutes ruining your focus on a task. Contrary to what I might have guessed, taking regular breaks from mental tasks actually improves your creativity and productivity. Skipping breaks, on the other hand, leads to stress and fatigue.” — Tom Rath

85. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” — Martin Luther King

86. “Want to be more productive? Uncover the subtle nuances that steal your productivity and fix those.” — Allison Graham

87. “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. It comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” — John Wayne

88. “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” — Charles Richards

89. “Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” — Sam Levenson

90. “Your daily choices and actions should be rational and productive.” — Sunday Adelaja

91. “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” — Brian Tracy

92. “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

93. “What gets measured gets managed.” — Peter Drucker

94. “What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent.” — Susan Cain

95. “You don’t need more time in your day. You need to decide.” — Seth Godin

96. “Each minute is a little thing, and yet, with respect to our personal productivity, to manage the minute is the secret of success.” — Joseph B. Wirthlin

97. “Fall in love with the process, and the results will come.” — Eric Thomas

98. “Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.” — Lord Chesterfield

99. “My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” — Miles Davis

100. “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” — H. Jackson Brown

101. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Image Credit: Bich Tran; Pexels; Thank you!

Add These 101 Phrases to Your Calendar for Productivity was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie

Get More Done with the DRY Principle

By | Business Tips | No Comments
Get More Done Dry Principle

Take a minute and think about your everyday tasks. I’m sure that many of them are likely to be repetitive and time-consuming — whether you’re working in an office or from home. But, is there a way to reduce this workload to get more done so that you’ll be productive instead of being busy?

Thankfully, there are several strategies you can try in order to get more done. Examples include the Eisenhower Matrix or the Pareto Principle. But, have you tried the DRY Principle?

What is DRY, and How Does it Work?

Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas, in their book The Pragmatic Programmer, coined the phrase “don’t repeat yourself” in 1999. They describe DRY as “Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system.”

In software engineering, DRY is a technique for reducing repetition in code. Coders streamline coding using a single, reusable source, aka “snippet,” whenever appropriate. Hence, the name, don’t repeat yourself.

As well as saving time, writing the same thing multiple times means that there is less room for human error. After all, if you make a mistake once, you’ll probably make it twice. Plus, if you decide to make any changes, you only have to do this one time.

The bottom line is that less code is good. It saves time and energy. It’s much easier to maintain. And, it also reduces the likelihood of bugs.

While the DRY Principle originally applied to software development, it can be adopted into other facets in order to get more done. For example, on a daily basis, how many emails do you send and receive? Essentially, you’re recreating the same structure with slightly different wording with each email. And, when you’re calendar is already booked, this can be very tedious.

DRY requires that you take note of all your actions throughout the day, one at a time. You can include tasks that are within the following categories in order to meet this requirement:

  • Unplanned events, such as a phone call from a client or urgent text from a colleague.
  • Monthly and yearly obligations, like annual reports and one-on-one meetings with team members.
  • Everyday routines and your top priorities.

Once you’ve compiled this list, you can determine which ones apply to the DRY Principle. From there, take note of how repetitive, time-consuming, and intimidating each one is, and mark them down. If the top candidates are DRY Principle qualifiers, you can automate as many of these as possible.

In some cases, you will not be able to automate all the duties. However, you can streamline certain parts to help you get more done.

Where Are You Repeating Yourself?

Have you ever used a system like Getting Things Done (GTD)? If so, the DRY Principle should be easy to understand as both follow a similar process. DRY, however, aims to avoid redundant processes.

To get started, keep a daily journal for at least a week. Then, you should track your time for a more accurate picture for a month or so. This allows you to take note of your routine tasks. But, this should also help you identify less frequent occurrences as well.

Here are some pointers you can use while tracking your time.

  • Add unplanned or unscheduled tasks, like responding to a client’s email.
  • Keep track of monthly and annual tasks. Examples of these are quarterly reports, audits, invoicing, and tech maintenance.
  • Ask others what their routine tasks are to fill in any gaps.

Hopefully, you now have a bird’s-eye view of your tasks. Next, you need to decide which tasks are best suited to DRY.

You can do this using whatever tools you rely on to track your tasks. For example, you can create tags or labels for each category in your to-do list or time-tracking app. The categories can then be added as columns in a spreadsheet. Or, you can go old school and write them down with a pen and paper.

To make this process easier, hone in on the corresponding categories;

  • Pain points. These would be the activities that you dread so much that they cause you to procrastinate
  • Bottlenecks. Which tasks are bogging down the rest of your day?
  • Tasks that require a lot of time. Review your time-tracking results and determine which tasks consume most of your time.
  • Work that repeats itself. Which tasks do you find yourself doing over and over?

As a result of categorizing your tasks, you can now identify which tasks are suitable for DRY. DRY is most likely to benefit tasks with a repetitive nature. You can eliminate repetitive tasks from your list if they aren’t essential so that you can focus on what’s important.

Create Templates

After discovering where you’re repeating yourself, you can now find ways to eliminate them so you can get more done. And, perhaps the most accessible place to start is through templates.

In most cases, templates are blank documents that need to be filled in. You can either create one from scratch or download a premade online. Regardless, templates will save you time since you’re no longer constantly creating emails, invoices, or calendars every day.

Generally speaking, templates are most needed in the following areas:

  • Emails. Office workers receive an average of 121 emails each day. As a result, there’s a possibility you’re sending the same emails repeatedly. You can create your own template by removing all the personal information and saving it for later use.
  • Internal communications. Examine your most recent communications and search for patterns. Even a minimal template can ease your stress and save you time.
  • External documents. Contracts, proposals, invoices all seem to look the same. However, when you remove the information specific to your clients and partners, you’ll have a template to use, and you can customize it as needed.
  • Presentations. Prepare a presentation template if you deliver more than one presentation a year. Then, regardless of how different each presentation appears, the basic structure can remain the same.

One more thing with templates. You should consider them as non-static documents. You should, therefore, update the template if you notice that you’re always making the same changes.

Automate Routine Tasks

During the course of your workday, you perform several repetitive tasks. But, what business tasks should you consider automating?

For starters, scheduling appointments. It’s easy to schedule appointments with calendar apps. You can send your calendar via email or link it to your website. You can now show others your availability so they can select a time and date that works for them. Once chosen, the event will be automatically added to schedules for all attendees.

Sorting and responding to emails, posting to social media, and filling out online forms can also be automated. This is also true for proposals, invoicing, customer service, and data backup.

You may only have to spend a couple of minutes on each task. But they add up quickly and divert your attention.

Follow the 30x Rule

Until now, we’ve only discussed the many ways you can leverage tools and messages to save time. However, DRY can also be useful in your daily activities.

“Most managers would think it’s crazy to spend 2.5 hours training someone to do a 5-minute task because they think ‘it would just be faster to do it myself,” notes Management consultant Rory Vaden. “That is because most managers are stuck in classic ‘urgency’ thinking of only evaluating their tasks inside of the construct of one day.”

“In which case, it never makes sense to spend 2.5 hours training someone to do a task that they could do themselves in just 5 minutes,” says Vaden.

According to Vaden, you should allocate 30X that amount of time to train others for any task that can be delegated and repeated. For example, a five-minute task delegated and trained for 2.5 hours will save you 1100 minutes (over 18 hours! ), according to the 30-X rule.

Mathematically speaking, it’s Total Task Time (5 minutes 250 working days) – Training Time (5 minutes).

It’s All About Staying DRY

Because all these processes are getting done in the background, you will have more free time because you won’t need to perform repetitive tasks manually. So when it comes to time management, the DRY Principle is an effective tool to experiment with.

By maximizing your output now, you will have more time to spend on the things that matter most in the future. And, to get started, take a look at your current workload, and see if there is anything you can automate under the DRY Principle.

Image Credit: Enikő Tóth; Pexels; Thanks!

4 Ways to Up Your Social Media Marketing Game

By | Knowledge Base | No Comments
4 Ways to Up Your Social Media Marketing Game

Let’s get straight to it. Your company’s success relies on social media. Why? Because that’s where the consumers are. Today, there are about 3.78 billion social media users worldwide. And these users have high expectations. 

In today’s ever-changing and demanding world, consumers expect a lot from their social media feeds. They want to be informed, engaged, and entertained. They also want to learn something new from time to time. This puts a lot of pressure on businesses, particularly new ones trying to establish a social presence. 

Building an engaged and involved social media following takes time. Setting your social media goals is a true first step in establishing your social media game. With goals, you have a clear sense of direction for your company’s brand. Not to mention, you also have a plan for you and your team to get behind and work toward. 

Read on for four ways to give your social media marketing a boost. 

1. Post Consistently 

This is arguably the easiest but also the most fruitful way to gain more followers. Posting consistently creates a rhythm to your platform. It helps create a sense of reliability and continuity. Your users will start to expect content at certain times of the day, month, or year. 

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re managing a new restaurant’s social media. Users will be looking for food content at times they are hungry. If you post a special menu photo at 5 p.m. each day, that will resonate with users who want to try the restaurant for dinner. The next time users are looking for a place to eat, they may return to your social channels. 

However, if you only post that menu photo once and then don’t post anything for another week or two, users will quickly forget about your original post. Your audience won’t be engaged and will be unlikely to return to your feed. 

Maintaining a consistent social media schedule may seem daunting at first. Luckily, there are tools such as Hootsuite and Agorapulse that can alleviate the stress of scheduling social media posts. 

Struggling to create content in advance? Seek out special holidays and observances such as Freedom Day (February 1) or Retro Day (February 27) for some inspiration.

2. But Also Post Consciously 

Social media users are constantly sharing and reacting. Sharing and reacting to world events. Sharing and reacting to other posts. Sharing and reacting to a brand’s stances. It’s you and your company’s responsibility to stay up to date on what is happening both on and off social media. 

For example, June 2020 was a monumental month for the social world. The Black Lives Matter movement grew significantly and steadily due to social media. Businesses that reacted sensitively in the moment retained their loyal followers. On the other hand, companies that posted inappropriately worded content or ignored the movement altogether took a major hit. 

So, what does this mean for you? While there isn’t one right way to handle any situation, there are wrong ways. Be conscious of what is happening — even while you’re on vacation — and pivot your planned social tactics accordingly. You don’t necessarily need to be the very first company to react to something. However, you should create a strategy when major events surprise the social world.  

3. Be Flexible and Adaptable

Setting up a new social account or taking one over can be intimidating. What works one day may not work the next. However, think of social media as a world of opportunities. If a company is stuck in the past, it won’t be moving ahead. This opens up the door for newer ones to take up space in a crowded field. 

Consider this example. Just recently, Instagram announced it was no longer just a “photo-sharing app.” The platform will be focusing on video content and entertainment in the months to come. Why? It’s likely because the app is looking to compete with popular video platforms such as TikTok and YouTube.

This news could shock a lot of businesses, particularly those that focused solely on posting photos and copy. Instagram’s algorithm will make it harder for users to see these brands in their feeds. Therefore, companies need to adapt, and so do their social media feeds. By posting Instagram Stories, Reels, and IGTVs, for instance, businesses can better stay ahead of the game. 

4. Tailor Your Posts to the Platform 

What works on Instagram may not necessarily work on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, or LinkedIn. Users adapt their needs to where they are. So a cute cat photo on Instagram won’t really be appropriate for LinkedIn, for example. 

Getting to know your customer is part of tailoring your posts effectively. Keeping an eye on your social metrics can also help you determine what kinds of posts work best for your business. 

Let’s go back to the restaurant example. If a Facebook post introducing a new menu item doesn’t resonate, look at what the call to action is. Could you make it clearer to the audience that this item is “back by popular demand”? Could you say the item is “available only for a limited time”? Using these types of words could help. 

If you’re still not seeing the traction you want, try another platform. The same photo could work better on Instagram and garner more attention if that’s where your foodie audience is. 

These four tips aren’t the only ways to up your social media marketing game. They are, however, strategies you can start to implement today to meet your goals. Be aware, though, that it takes time. Just like your business wasn’t built overnight, neither will your social media presence be.

What Should Your Office’s PPE Policy Be?

By | Business Tips | No Comments

As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, offices everywhere are reopening. Work has to get done. With that said, there’s no reason to subject your staff or customers to unnecessary risks. 

There are many things to consider when reopening your business. You must reorganize the office to allow employees to work at a safe distance. You need to be vigilant about cleaning. You also need to adjust the way customers interact with your business by restricting things like drop-in appointments. 

The biggest challenge, however, might be effectively utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE). Depending on the nature of your business, masks, gloves, and employee-customer barriers may be necessary.

Not sure where to start? To figure out your next steps, take a look through the following questions:

1. Do I need a PPE policy?

Yes, you do. COVID-19 is contagious, and you have a responsibility to keep your customers and employees safe. That starts with a clear policy on PPE usage. 

Policies provide a level of accountability that recommendations can’t. A cancellation policy for appointments can lower no-show rates more than “soft” guidelines ever could, for example.

The same is true when it comes to wearing protective equipment. Don’t leave something so important up to chance or choice.

2. How common is COVID-19 in my area?

No matter where your business is located, having a PPE policy is worthwhile. With that said, it’s important to build yours around conditions on the ground. 

More drastic types of PPE, such as face shields, should be used in hotspots. If you’re in a place where the coronavirus is under control, regular cloth masks may be plenty.

The bottom line is, you can’t throw caution to the wind. But you shouldn’t go whole-hog if there are only a few cases in your country. 

3. How will PPE affect productivity?

There’s an argument to be made that PPE can be distracting. But when people use it long enough, it becomes the norm. The real productivity drain, in fact, comes from anxiety caused by a sense of unease at work. From that perspective, wearing PPE might actually help employees be more productive at a time like this. 

What if employees claim their PPE is getting in the way? Look for workarounds. Perhaps someone who finds a face covering to be distracting would be better off working at home. Simply getting him or her a softer mask could solve the issue. 

4. How will I get employees to comply?

When introducing new policies, there’s always a question about how workers will respond. If they don’t buy into your plan, then it isn’t going to be effective. The key is to involve your team in crafting the policy.

Solicit their input when putting together your PPE policy. Keep them in the loop about your decisions related to how and when to re-open the office. Transparency boosts engagement and encourages compliance. 

Most importantly, listen to your employees’ concerns about returning to work. Take steps they suggest to make everyone feel more comfortable. 

5. What should I provide?

According to OSHA, employers must provide the PPE necessary for employees to do their jobs safely. That guideline, however, has a lot of room for interpretation. Arguably, no customer-facing job is perfectly safe right now. 

The basic piece of equipment is a face mask. While employees may opt to bring their own, it’s important to provide backups if necessary. Keeping gloves and hand sanitizer stocked and accessible is also a good idea. 

If your employees interact intimately with customers, plexiglass shields should be provided. At high-risk companies, such as nursing homes and doctor’s offices, full-body protective coverings may be necessary as well. 

6. What consequences should I impose?

The toughest part of creating a PPE policy is figuring out what to do if employees break it. Not every infraction is intentional, and not all sanctions work with all employees. 

What will you do if someone forgets their PPE on accident? What if it slips off in the course of their work? And what if the same team member keeps violating your policy?

For first-time accidents, a verbal warning is plenty. Perhaps repeat offenders are required to work from home for a certain length of time. Intentional offenses should be punished more seriously.

No one knows how long the pandemic will last. It’s probably safe to say, however, that the virus isn’t going away anytime soon. Using PPE at work may become the “new normal.” Design your policy thoughtfully, and get buy in across your team: You may need it for the long haul.

Register Now & Get a 30 Day Trial Register Now