Your guide to office productivity: 3 easy steps

Get more done using technology and everyday science


Technology for smarter offices

Navigating technology for smarter offices

Every company strives to be more efficient and effective. Thanks to some big recent advances in technology, there are now plenty of tools and platforms that allow you to get more stuff done in less time, and for less cost.

Here are three ways you can use technology (along with plain old science) in your company to implement more productive work practices.

Project management tools

Use project management tools

When you’re in charge of a team project, it can be tempting to simply throw all of your day-to-day project minutiae into spreadsheets, and use simple email (or instant chat) for internal communication. With this approach, however, problems quickly pile up. Spreadsheets become huge and unwieldy, and email chains grow beyond control.

The latest crop of project management tools have changed the game. They allow you to track and control projects in a much more integrated, automated and streamlined fashion. Their main benefits include:

Improved flexibility: Each project is unique, with its own slightly different way of tracking information. Daily progress reports, tasks, milestones, to-do lists, and more can be easily viewed, updated and linked together by the right team members.

Greater transparency: A regular spreadsheet won’t provide each team member with a list of tasks or other information about their project responsibilities. With a project management tool, everyone always knows what they need to do, and when.

Better reporting: When your boss is making a presentation to senior management and wants a project update, getting it all out of Excel or emails can be a challenge. Many project management tools often include management dashboards, change logs and project history, to give you the big picture when it’s needed.

While specialised project management tools are an extra expense on top of your regular office software, many of the best ones run in public cloud infrastructure, making them cost-effective and highly accessible. In fact, by helping you to save time and reduce mistakes, they can ultimately pay for themselves many times over.

Optimize team meetings

Organize optimal team meetings

Team meetings are still indispensable for most organizations. However, according to a survey by software firm Workfront, 45 percent of time spent in meetings is considered unproductive.

So, when is the best time to book a meeting? According to an analysis by YouCanBookMe, a company that makes business scheduling apps, 2:30 pm Tuesday is when most people are available to meet. Monday and Friday, however, are when people are most likely to be out of the office.

Attendance aside, it’s also important to pick a time of day when people are performing their best. We tend to tire as the day wanes, and that can impact our decision-making. Just before lunch can be a no-go, as people are getting hungry and may make hasty decisions just to leave early. Mornings are usually when people are feeling sharpest – but be mindful of people’s sleep needs.

Keep your meetings short and sweet, too: under 20 minutes if possible. This will ensure everyone arrives prepared and has time to carry out the necessary work.

Avoid multi-tasking

Prioritise – and avoid the multitasking trap

You’ll never finish a task if you keep putting it off, so having a prioritized to-do list is essential. Which leads to a great productivity tip: start your day by tackling your most important task first. Our motivation and mental focus tend to peak in the morning, we get fewer interruptions, and it makes subsequent tasks feel all that much easier.

Cross off tasks off the list as they are completed, and carry over any remaining items to the next day so you have a clear idea of what to tackle tomorrow. According to the creator of task management app Amazing Marvin, If tasks keep piling up, try a shorter list – 6 to 12 items a day is ideal.

Also important is to work on only one task at a time. Multitasking is actually a myth, as we are only capable of focusing on one thing at any given moment. Try to dedicate at least 20 to 30 uninterrupted minutes to important tasks, and you’ll find they get done better, faster, and with less energy.

There are hundreds of productivity apps and tools promising to improve workplace performance, but sometimes all it takes is a simple change to your work habits. These simple tips will help your staff get more time in less time, with less stress.

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