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Productivity hacks: 6 tips to build your team’s efficiency

Take an organization-wide approach to building productivity for stronger and more scalable business results.

True productivity comes from a combination of operational efficiency, forward-thinking infrastructural planning and implementation, and functional organization.

If you’re looking to build better work efficiency, consider enlisting these six productivity hacks that can make a real difference in what you and your teams achieve every day.

To build operational efficiency:

1. Cut meeting times using technology (or an ab workout!): Collaboration is crucial to success. Yet, a collaborative culture shouldn’t mean a calendar that’s jam-packed with meetings 24/7. Plus, according to research published in Applied Psychology, a highly collaborative work environment (that’s often chock full of ad hoc meetings) can actually sabotage top performers. Recommendation: Make better use of enterprise-wide collaboration tools in lieu of a calendar full of in-person meetings (check out this post for a comprehensive list). Or, for those times when only a face-to-face will do, schedule stand-up or more intense “plank meetings”—a sure-fire approach to keep meetings on-point, and a great way to integrate exercise into your work life, too.

2. If in doubt about your internal capabilities, outsource: Our ultra-competitive marketplace demands a lot from workers. But just because your staff have the abilities or interest doesn’t mean adding another item to their to-do list is the most productive or cost-effective way to handle a project. Recommendation: If a gap analysis reveals that your organization lacks the precise expertise, bandwidth or technical know-how required for a certain task, consider outsourcing to a third-party service provider with the skills, abilities and brain trust to get the job done on your behalf.

Upgrade your infrastructure to better scale your business:

3. Stress-test your internet infrastructure before it becomes business-critical: Keep your teams working at optimum pace and avoid business-critical situations like lag time, outages, or cybersecurity issues by regularly testing the fidelity of your IT systems. Recommendation: Think about the types of activities your employees are involved in and whether your systems are set up to handle the load. For example, if your teams share large files, manage databases, or conduct other business activities that require highly secure connections, you may consider switching to fibre-based internet services, which offer symmetrical performance and reliability, and are some of the most secure networks available on the market today.

4. Leverage technology (and colleague recommendations) to stay on-task: New productivity tools come on the market every day, but how can you know what might work best for you? Simple: Ask a cube-mate. Chances are, if they’re doing the same type of work as you and you get along in such close quarters, your taste in productivity apps might line up, too. Recommendation: Consider the following apps:

· Asana and Trello (for team collaboration and managing projects);

· StayFocusd or Cold Turkey (to control the amount of time you invest in social media throughout your workday);

· PhraseExpander (to cut down on time spent typing);

· LastPass (a secure way to manage your various passwords); and

· RescueTime (a way to monitor the time you spend on your computer and tells you how well you’re using your time).

Future-proof your organization with these functional improvements:

5. Set your priorities and focus, focus, focus: While a multitude of project management and team-collaboration apps promise to keep your team aligned and striving towards the same KPIs, they will only get you so far. To ensure high productivity in your daily work, you’ve got to be clear on what you’re trying to achieve, focusing sharply on your business’ most important objectives to bring projects across the finish line as effectively and efficiently as possible. Recommendation: Use the 4-question model of What? Width? When? Wealth? to get specific about your priorities, and you’ll see items crossed off your to-do list faster than you ever thought possible.

6. Disconnect from time to time: In our always-on, always-connected world, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the work just won’t get done if you go under the radar for any length of time. But studies show that a balanced lifestyle makes for better productivity and, to be happy and maintain high levels of productivity, we must take time to digitally detox. Recommendation: If shutting down your smartphone isn’t practical, consider other ways to disconnect from the “cult of busyness,” such as shutting off non-critical notifications on your devices. Or, go for a walk around the block, leaving your phone at your desk. (Too far? How about taking a walk around your office space, instead?)