3 key areas to focus on in your business to work smarter, not harder!

adult-bicycle-cyclist-1154089Guest Blog by Fiona Calder, VivaVA!

Those that know me will know that I have a passion for working as efficiently as possible and work with clients to ensure they are not wasting precious time if there is a better way of working. I am a big fan of Sir Dave Brailsford’s Marginal Gains approach whereby if you improve every microscopic part of your business by just 1% you too could be a winner, just like he transformed the Olympic cycling team.

I see business improvement working mainly in the following areas:

1. Communications

Don’t let your inbox rule your life…set up rules so that messages are put into the relevant folders so you can schedule time to go through each folder and deal with them appropriately.

Introduce WhatsApp, Slack or Skype to keep colleagues in the loop, ask questions (which can be picked up at a convenient point in their day) and share ideas. This can reduce interruptions and allows you to deal with things when you are ready, rather than stopping and starting a job to deal with calls and visits.

Client and supplier meetings are important but sometimes a quick video call will suffice rather than face to face. Nowadays they do not always need a downloaded plugin which has been a barrier in the past. I have used Zoom, Skype and Appear.in and they usually come with functions such as chat and screenshare. Even if you converted 1 meeting a week to this format – think what you could do with that extra travel time you have saved over a month.

2. Office productivity

If people are required to use a PC, get them trained in keyboard skills as it will pay dividends if they can complete tasks in about a quarter of the time. Those that are proficient can level up by introducing shortcut keys to save them have to take their hand away from the keyboard, using the mouse and clicking through menus to find a particular function. Some free and ungated shortcuts are available on my website at www.vivava.co.uk/resources

Where disparate teams are working on projects an online tool such as Trello will give colleagues and clients visibility as to the steps involved, when they need to action something and tracks all the comments as an audit trail. Because it works in real time and all the information is in one place it can really speed up the production time.

Cloud storage such as GoogleDrive and OneDrive are ideal for those that are on the move because you can access centrally held documents wherever you are. These can be edited while out and about and it updates it on the drive if others are also accessing the same document. This prevents issues with version control and emailing round documents on a merry go round.

3. Work on the business, not in it

When business owners are ‘busy, busy’ it is all too easy to become too close to the day to day running of the operation. If you save time on the previous suggestions, above, my advice would be to engage a business coach who will help you to step back and look at the business strategy objectively, create a plan…and be held to it! Many of them offer free taster sessions so why not try one and see how you get on – you will still learn from it!

Hopefully these tips will help to improve your productivity and if all else fails – get a VA to help you!

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