There are times at work when even the most organised amongst us can feel a little overwhelmed, that our workload is controlling us and not the other way round.
The concept of working smarter, not harder aims to help people find more intelligent ways to work; streamlining processes and introducing new solutions rather than force individuals to put in extra hours. It’s a great idea and when it works, it can really make a difference to both productivity levels and personal well-being.
Here are a few top tools to use:
Swap the diary for an app
Most of us use a combination of lists, diaries, Outlook – even concertina files – to try and keep ourselves organised. These are great, but a little old-fashioned now and not necessarily best suited to this digital age. Instead, why not swap the physical list for a virtual one, downloading one of many available organisation apps? Evernote and Wunderlist are two online resources that allow you to keep articles, emails, tasks and notes in one place – plus they can sync across all devices for extra convenience.
Cloud hosted servers
Hosting your systems on a secure cloud server means that employees can access folders and documents from any wi-fi enabled location. This in turn means that they can work from home, from the coffee shop or from the train – at a time that suits them and when they might be at their most productive. Most of the big tech brands offer cloud platforms that are suitable for businesses, like Google and Microsoft, as does Amazon.
Flexible working practices
It seems incredible that any business should still exhibit a reluctance around flexible working, especially when it has been proven time and time again to increase productivity, cut costs and increase retention. The wonderful thing about flexible working is that it can alleviate the impact of outside pressures on individuals and let them concentrate on their work. It can reduce the amount of stress caused through arduous commutes and improve work-life balance. Businesses that fail to operate flexible working practices will find they are the ones that miss out.
Regular team meetings and 121s
Don’t groan; yes these consume valuable time that no one seems to being able to spare, but taking ten minutes out to talk about work (and more importantly, workloads) can address issues before they escalate into problems. Being able to chat through problems can ‘brainstorm’ could lead to faster, more effective solutions. From the employees’ perspective, these meetings also show that management cares about their experience at work, which can boost motivation and in turn, productivity.
At a time when many employers now allow employees free reign of the internet – including access the social media – it can be very easy to get distracted by Buzzfeed or what’s trending on Twitter. If the temptation proves too great, then an app like Stayfocusd might work for you. It blocks certain URLs for a specified length of time and essentially stops you from wasting time on things you shouldn’t be doing. It’s a free Google Chrome extension which is easy to install and very handy. Strict Workflow and WasteNoTime are alternatives that are also available via Chrome.
Whether it’s an app, a new working practice or a change of attitude, there are plenty of way that businesses and employees can work smarter, not harder – raising morale and quality into the bargain.