This baker’s dozen of ideas will improve your business productivity

A slice of home-made cake and an afternoon nap might not be the obvious devices to enhance business productivity, but suspend your disbelief for a moment, and take a look at the Solo Expenses guide to getting more out of the working day

Do you ever wish there were more hours in the day? Every entrepreneur does, at some time or other, but there never will be. The trick to making it seem as if there are is to make the best use of what’s available in the first place. And that probably means doing the opposite of what might seem to be the obvious answer.

This baker’s dozen of ideas will improve your business productivity-1
That obvious answer is ‘work longer’. But can you be certain that will enhance productivity? We suggest it won’t. It’s far more likely to achieve greater fatigue, more opportunity for errors, which will generate more work and a generally lower return on investment for the time involved.

Start by asking what you want to achieve. That’ll be greater productivity, then. More output. More invoices. More profit. Pick those three KPIs and you’re well on the way to enhanced productivity, and we’ve got a list of 13 things for you to consider to help you down that road. Who knew that a slice of home-made cake (idea 2) or having a nap (idea 13) might make your business more productive?

13 ideas to get more from your business

1. Know your staff: People thrive on interaction. If you take the trouble to learn about your employees’ partners, children, families, pets and hobbies, and take an interest in them, those employees will repay the favour by working harder for you when it matters.

2. Socialise: You don’t have to go to the pub with the staff after work. In fact Sir Clive Woodward, who led the England Rugby team to World Cup victory, advocated exactly the opposite, and didn’t socialise with his team. However, in business, there’s nothing to stop you, as the boss, injecting cohesive spirit into the workplace. Perhaps you could cook an annual barbecue (you wouldn’t necessarily have to declare it to HMRC), or declare ‘Feasting Friday’, when all members of a team bring in food to pool for a shared lunch. Both would allow people to talk about something other than work.

This baker’s dozen of ideas will improve your business productivity-23. Have fun:
There’s no virtue in long hours for long hours’ sake, and precious little productivity either. Happy people who can share a joke will get more done in a shorter time than those working longer hours in silence.

4. Recognise good work: How long does it take to say ‘thank you’? The feeling created in the recipient of a sincere supportive email or a few kind words far outweighs the effort taken by the giver to deliver it.

5. Harness technology: A combination of broadband and inventive apps offers more ways to get more done than ever before. Don’t be afraid of technology, because it can be your friend, and using it to best advantage will allow you to get to day’s end with a warm feeling of having a good day’s work.

6. Music: This is a double-edged sword. Some people find music helpful to their work, but others find the exact opposite. In any case, who chooses? It’s fine for lone workers, who have no-one else to please, but in shared workplaces you might consider making music choice – or indeed silence – a reward for outstanding performance.

7. Step away from Facebook: And Twitter. And LinkedIn. Social media is fine, but it can suck productive time out of your day at an alarming rate if you lose focus on why you logged on in the first place (and you do need a reason). Keep the balance right, and restrict the ‘social’ part. No-one really cares that you’ve just enjoyed a bacon sandwich, or that you’re just uploaded 50 photos to Facebook.

8. Manage your time: Avoid, as far as possible, having people drop in to chat for no real reason. It’s a double negative for any business, because they’re not working, and they’re stopping you from doing it too. Close the door, or hide somewhere in an empty office and focus on the task in hand.

9. Set yourself a deadline: Self-imposed stress can be helpful. Call it a promise to yourself that you’ll complete a task in an hour or 90 minutes, and work hard to achieve it, rather than letting the task drag on. When you complete the job in the time you’ve allowed, you’ll get a buzz from having done so, and feel better about the next task.

10. Take a break: You might earn it by having competed a task against that self-imposed deadline, but even in longer tasks, briefly stepping away from the work can improve concentration levels, and therefore productivity.

11. Make it all count:
This baker’s dozen of ideas will improve your business productivity-3Got a couple of minutes to spare? Find something useful to do with them. Send a report to your accountant using Solo Expenses, the free-to-download expenses management app, or complete some other task that can be accomplished quickly. It’ll take less time than if you come back to it.

12. Brighten the office: Studies have shown that something nice to look at improves productivity – but you don’t need a study. Ask yourself which is preferable, a wall painted a uniform battleship grey, or a picture of a woodland or beach scene?

13. Take a nap: Not so easy for employees, but for lone workers a short nap, taken when progress has slumped to glacially-slow speeds, can re-energise the brain and allow more to be achieved than would have been possible if they’d continued the losing battle against fatigue. It works in Mediterranean countries!