People who enjoy wearing many hats often thrive at small businesses. The opportunity to perform a variety of tasks can make for an exciting day. However, this juggling act also can get overwhelming, even for the best employees. They may require assistance on figuring out what to do first and how to get everything done.
As their leader, you can help employees at your small business learn how to work smarter to boost productivity. Try these strategies for getting more accomplished without increasing stress or hours.
Of course, the classic answer to “When do you need this by?” is “Yesterday.” Setting up such an atmosphere, though, leads to panic and confusion over where to focus efforts. Instead, encourage workers to rank what they need to do in order of importance to ensure the most pressing matters are addressed to first. Let them know you’re available to discuss priorities if concerns arise, and view their lists regularly to confirm that you’re all on the same page.
Forget the myth of multi-tasking. People tend to be the most productive, engaged and happy when they concentrate on one thing at a time. Constantly shifting focus wastes mental energy and can lead to errors.
Similarly, remember that bothering someone “just for a second” actually causes a much longer delay because the person will need to regroup thoughts before getting back up to speed. Become a good judge of what truly needs to be addressed at the given moment and what could wait until a scheduled check-in or other opportune time (such as before getting back to work after lunch). Set the tone for your small business by avoiding unnecessary disruptions and expecting others to do the same.
When projects call for extra concentration, encourage the use of a “do not disturb” sign that everyone (including management) agrees to respect except in the case of an emergency. To help others know when to return, the person posting the sign should include the time at which she will become available again.
Pick a time to check messages
Technology can zap as much time as it saves, if you let it. Rather than constantly monitoring email messages, schedule blocks of time during the day during which to respond. Inform staff members of your system and urge them to follow suit. Agree that matters requiring immediate attention will be addressed in person or with a phone call.
Finally, recognize the impact relaxation has on overall performance. Take the lead in this area by eating a proper lunch away from your desk or going for an afternoon walk – and maybe even inviting others to join you. Regularly refreshing both body and mind makes great business sense.