Tools are designed to make you more productive, but you may find that they have the opposite effect if you're using outdated resources.
There is a wide range of resources that make you more productive, but if you're using outdated versions or ideas, you may find they aren't helping at all and could even be having the opposite effect.
Of course, emails are incredibly useful for certain tasks. However, far too many professionals use their email account as the center of their working universe. Sending out emails to arrange meetings or communicate about a specific project can end up wasting your time and that of your colleagues.
Emails are incredibly ineffective because - for most people - they get out of control so quickly, meaning it takes you ages to find that one chain you're looking for. Other tools are much more effective, for example use Slack or Basecamp to discuss work and meetings to figure out your schedule, instead of emailing people all the time.
2. Your drawer
Managers are guilty of both hanging onto things they no longer need and poor organization. This is often clearest in your work drawers. From crisp packets to CVs of people that you haven't spoken to since 2008, you think it's quicker to just throw things in your drawer; after all, it keeps your desk nice and tidy! However, this makes it impossible to use your storage system effectively, even if things are in the right place. Clear out your drawer and either organize, shred or throw away.
Many people still use physical paper notebooks to write down notes in meetings, but this isn't the best use of your time. Because there are multiple people involved in projects you either have to type up your physical notes to share them or forget all about them and end up spending just as much time going over old ground.
Instead, use your laptop and a cloud sharing system that will allow everyone on the project to be kept up to date with all developments. This means you don't need to waste time sharing notes you've made but also that other people can contribute to the document, making it much easier to collaborate.
4. Adlib chats
Now we're not saying you need to run a dictatorship where chatting is forbidden but, as a manager, it's likely that you spend half your day speaking to people who just wanted "a quick chat" about something. Of course, you want to be there for your team and colleagues but it's important that they know your time is precious too.
Schedule time in your day for drop-in sessions where colleagues are welcome to come and chat. This will prevent people having impromptu talks with you when you're in the middle of something and throwing your productivity out of the window.
Whiteboards feel outdated but they are still used in many work environments, even though there are much more productive solutions. Collaboration is one of the main reasons whiteboards - and their markers - make an appearance in meetings. However, others tools like Evernote and Skitch allow you to work with other team members in a much more effective way.
They also provide full visibility, allowing colleagues who aren't in the office or even the same country to see what's going on and be kept up to date with any significant developments.
6. The Internet
Businesses lose hours of company time because of poor internet connections but often stay with poor providers because it feels like too much hassle to move. Having a reliable and appropriate connection is a crucial part of running a productive and effective business.
This means having a speed that allows all employees to work as quickly as they need to at the same time, but also finding a provider that works the way you want them to. Are you compensated for downtime? How do you resolve problems? What about out-of-hours support?
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