What’s the one report you’ll never see on a balance sheet, but is critical to the success of every business? It’s the measure of productivity.
When we think about time management, we tend to think about it from an individual’s point of view – so much so that it’s easy to forget how teams of people collectively manage their time when working together on projects.
Successful businesses have one thing in common which is to empower their teams to act together to change the way they work. Small steps can make a big difference, so by offering the team an early finish on a Friday or after work drinks, teams develop a new capability: managing their time as a team.
Check out these traits and tips to see how you can apply them to your own business to get your teams working together brilliantly.
- Make multi-tasking a thing of the past
It’s easy to get persuaded into thinking that we all have so much to do that the only way to get through the workload is to multi-task. It seems to have become the new norm, but it’s never going to be an efficient use of time and neither will it get any job done well.
By reducing the number of different tasks a team member works on in a given day will dramatically reduce the time it takes to switch from one task to another.
Many studies have been done on productivity regarding the negative effects of switching between different tasks. Alow your team members longer, concentrated stretches to complete projects, limit switches between tasks, and you’ll find they can achieve more.
- Block out time for no interruptions
Encourage teams to have periods of no interruptions to enable them to focus on the task at hand. Enable them to let their colleagues know when they are available, and when they are not. Make sure that people know that during your “unavailable time”, they should only interrupt you if they have to.
It’s also worth agreeing on a signal that anyone can use when they are not interruptible, like putting a brief note on the office door or if in an open plan meeting, something as simple as a small red flag on the desk tells others that they are unavailable. Both will alleviate interruptions and can avoid hurt feelings.
Managers, however, should watch out. If you’re a manager, it’s important to be available to your team, to handle urgent issues and to coach people so that they are as effective as possible.
If you put up barriers that are too high, you won’t be able to do these jobs. By all means, use “unavailable time”, but don’t overuse it, and make sure people know they can interrupt you if there is a genuine crisis.
- Start and end meetings on time, every time
Starting and ending meetings on time is probably the quickest and easiest way to save your organisation time and increase productivity. A team of 12 starting a meeting 10 minutes late means you’ve effectively lost two hours of work!
Back to back meetings are guaranteed to deliver cascading delays throughout the day. Instead of having meetings that start and end on the hour, consider using a meeting efficiency tools such as Google Calendar’s ‘Speedy Meeting’ setting. When you enable this feature in your Account Settings, 30-minute meetings end five minutes earlier, and one-hour meetings end 10 minutes early. Encourage your team to enable this for their meetings and avoid the inevitable meetings lag.
Watch a short clip here on how to enable Speedy Meetings in Google: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9L0HJ5FRio
- Avoid the email tag
Save hours scheduling meetings with clients with a tool like Calendly which gives the meeting recipient access to the hours you have available so they can pick a time that suits, and you can coordinate a meeting time in one email, not five.
- Embrace real-time change
Embrace tools that enable your teams to collaborate in real-time. As an example, the Google Docs suite comes with the ability to share, write, comment, and edit documents simultaneously amongst the team which is a huge time saver.
These tools have the added benefit of auto-saving to the cloud, ensuring no matter where they are, employees have access to the latest information which enables working offsite or at home when needed.