In the first part of this article I discussed email systems, rapid process improvement and the need for routines. This concluding part looks at the remaining four problems I see on a regular basis that adversely affect productivity in the office.

Problem 4: Small tasks often get overlooked

Just because a task is small, it doesn't mean that it isn't important. Forgetting to perform small but important tasks can lead to big problems for your business.

Solution: Use a daily huddle

Recommended actions:

  • Hold a brief meeting at the start of the working day.
  • Review the routine tasks that you need to perform each day / week to create a short agenda.
  • Add in any extra items that help your team to work better together.
  • Test the duration of the meeting, five minutes maximum.
  • Hold the meeting near to the start of each working day and see what happens to your team's productivity.

A short team meeting is a simple way to capture these items and have a more productive day.

Problem 5: You can't find the files you need

Where are your files? Time lost to bad filing can be really detrimental. Usually this occurs over time, but can be resolved quite simply.

Solution: Organise the workplace

Recommended actions:

  • Review your files and decide on the most logical way to store them.
  • Take a time out and re-house the files in the right place.
  • Purge obsolete information wherever possible.
  • Add a reminder to check to make sure that files are being put in their rightful place.
  • Maintain the discipline!

Don't forget, this applies to your computerised documents as well as your hard copies.

Problem 6: You find yourself dealing with the same problems over and over again

Repeating problems drain too much time from every business. Often businesses just fix a problem superficially and the same problem re-appears in a different guise shortly afterwards. Getting under the skin of a problem can actually be straightforward and can lead to permanent solutions.

Solution: Solve problems once and for all

Recommended actions:

  • List your recurring business problems.
  • Dig around the subject and get all the information you can.
  • Ask 'why?' questions to find out why specific things happen.
  • Keep digging, deeper and deeper, until you experience a flash of the blindingly obvious.
  • Put the fix in place so that your working days run far more smoothly.

Problem 7: You find it difficult to keep track of what you need to do

Losing track of workloads and obligations is never a good strategy. Time wasted from chopping and changing priorities as a result of not being on top of your 'list' can be a significant loss for most businesses.

Solution: Use lists for maximum productivity

Recommended actions:

  • Capture items that need to be dealt with, the more visible the better.
  • Prioritise the list and take action.
  • Flush items that aren't moving (do them or get rid of them).
  • Update the information constantly.
  • Use your diary to schedule your time to effectively complete the tasks.

So there you go - seven common problems and tangible ideas to remedy them. Try out the ideas for yourself and evolve them for your own business. Just getting one idea to take hold in your business can help to make your productivity soar.

Article by Giles Johnston of Smartspeed Consulting Ltd.

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