Time is priceless. But it can be very costly if you don’t use it wisely, especially when you are starting a business. Time is of utmost importance to a startup, possibly even more important than money. You can get more funding, but when you lose time, you can never get it back.
There is always a lot to do in a startup. You constantly have to wear multiple hats, jumping from one task to the next. There are hundreds of emails to read and respond to, meetings to attend, clientele to build; it’s a never-ending to-do list. It may feel like there is never enough time to do everything.
While there are many time management tools and systems that you could invest in to help you free up more time, they come at a cost, and you could use every penny you can save right now. This article includes free hacks you could implement to save time and increase productivity.
1. Reduce Meetings
Attentiv, a company dedicated to the improvement of workplace meetings, found out that 63% of meetings are conducted without a set agenda. That’s more than half of your meetings happening without a clear outline of what the meeting is supposed to address. They also found out that 33% of these meetings are unproductive, and a third of the time spent in meetings is usually on non-work related things.
Consider how many meetings you are currently having per day in your company. If a meeting is required, plan it with a clear agenda and structure. Be as detailed as possible to help avoid wasting time.
Doing this will help you reduce the amount of meetings you have and shorten their length, freeing up time to focus on other things.
2. Encourage Breaks
This might be a bit confusing for someone trying to get the most out of their day. How can not working help you do better work? The answer is: by making you more alert. The human brain needs rest to function at its best.
A University of Illinois study suggests that performing mental tasks over a long period of time will reduce creativity and decline productivity. The longer your employees are sitting at their desks without a break, the less work they are likely to produce.
Insist that everyone take a one-hour break from work. Encourage them to take a short walk outside, if possible. Get a cup of water anything that can help them rejuvenate and refresh themselves. When employees come back from a break, their minds are sharper, so productivity will likely be higher.
3. Allow Working Remotely
Nicholas Bloom and James Liang, Stanford professors and founders of a Chinese travel website, allowed some of the website’s call center staff to work from home for nine months as a part of a study. At the end of the study, performance data and employee responses showed that the group that worked from home completed 13.5% more calls than those in the office.
People are more comfortable in an environment that is customized to their needs and preferences, and that is usually not the office. The office provides a lot of distractions that employees can’t control; interruptions from colleagues, overhearing people on the phone, etc. When working remotely, employees can create a quiet environment, save on commuting time, and generally work longer hours.
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This option would not only increase productively, but could also cut costs. Bloom’s study also found working remotely to be very cost effective; the company saved $1,900 per employee on furniture and space in those nine months. This will be helpful for startups operating with a tight budget.
4. Offer Flexible Working Hours
In a study by CareerArc, 75% of the participants placed workplace flexibility at the top of their priorities when considering employment. Employees believe that they can be more productive if they are able to set their own schedule.
People are wired differently. Some struggle to concentrate and be productive in the morning, but peak in the afternoons. Some are early birds who just can’t function past that 3pm afternoon slump. Flexible hours give everyone the opportunity to work to their rhythm and best utilize their productivity peaks.
Rigid working hours causes a lot of time wastage. Employees might take a lot of time trying to focus in the morning and could reach lunchtime without having done much if mornings are not when they function best.
Set the number of hours that employees need to work daily and goals they need to achieve, then let them pick the best time for themselves to do it. They will be happier as they work and will produce better results.
5. Clearly Define Job Scopes
Employees can perform their tasks more effectively if they know exactly what they are supposed to do and when. Many employees are not clear on what their job is, while new tasks are added to their responsibilities on a daily basis, and they occasionally have to take on projects that are outside their scope.
Have a written job description for every employee. Specify what an employee is expected to do on daily basis, ranking the duties according to priority. Update the job description every time the employee has to add a task to their duties permanently. Share the job descriptions of the team on a common platform so that employees not only know their duties, but understand what their colleagues’ responsibilities are as well.
A written job description will help avoid confusion on who does what. You can prevent situations where work is not done because someone thought the other was supposed to do it, or duplicate work is done by multiple employees who thought it was among their duties. You will save a lot of time and get more accomplished when everyone is clear on their responsibilities.
High productivity is critical for any business, particularly startups. Use the hacks above to improve productivity and build a more effective and professional team that gets work done.