Five Ways to improve your efficiency in 2019

business man with multiple arms

For any business or non-profit, efficiency and productivity are keys to improving – but many organizations don’t give it the focus it deserves. Inspired by a renewed motivation to become more efficient in the new year here at Ultra Graphics, we’ve compiled a list of big time wasters and efficiency killers, and ideas to overcome them. These five ways to improve efficiency include better faster communication using technology, avoiding wasteful habits like online shopping and social media, and being more deliberate with your time both on and off the job.

Just about every business or non-profit is working towards growth – whether that be in the form of new clients, new locations, more money, bigger spaces, and more. When that growth is achieved, sometimes productivity and efficiency can struggle to catch up, causing what many people refer to as growing pains. This is a great problem to have, and it’s also an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate your organizations processes – looking for bottle necks in production, inefficiencies in processes, and employee/management engagement.

1. Employees don’t get to work on what they are passionate about.

Not everyone gets their dream job, that’s the reality of being an adult. However, if an employee gets to spend time doing the kind of work that plays to their strengths and passions, the are much more likely to be engaged and productive. An article by gallup.com reported that employees who utilize their strengths on a regular basis are 8% more productive, and a whopping six times more likely to have increased engagement. Increased engagement leads to higher productivity, because the person is actively enjoying his/her work, and is good at it.

Suggestion: take the opportunity to communicate with your employees about what their strengths are, and try to incorporate that into their daily work life – whether that means assigning different tasks, or considering a move into a different position. Annual or semi-annual reviews are a perfect platform to have these kinds of conversations.

2. Stressed employees (and managers) are unproductive employees.

This is a no-brainer, but when a person is stressed – whether the reason stems from work or home life – that person is less productive. Stress causes disengagement, lack of focus, health issues, and more. While there are good kinds of stress that serve as boosts to our mental and physical status, bad or chronic stress is a productivity killer. In a post from Willis Towers Watson, it says that 57% of employees who are stressed felt less productive.

Suggestion: make a conscious effort to manage your stress, utilizing methods like a healthier diet, adding exercise, getting more sleep, meditation, or simply taking a break a couple times a day to relax and recharge. Sometimes the source of stress can be alleviated with a change of pace, or having a conversation with coworkers or friends just to talk about it. There are many sources of information on the internet on dealing with stress, such as articles from the CDC, the American Psychological Association, or helpguide.org.

3. Digital and mobile distractions are killing time and wasting money.

If you’ve ever spent a few minutes shopping online, browsing your social media accounts, or watching YouTube videos on your phone and computer at work, you’re killing productivity. It’s impossible to be 100% productive 100% of the time, but just about everyone can admit that they could cut back on digital and mobile distractions. In a survey from careerbuilder.com, 44% of workers blame the internet for hurting their productivity, and 36% specifically call out social media as the culprit. These distractions not only kill time, but they objectively waste business money.

Suggestion: Knock it off.

4. Using old or outdated technology means lower efficiency for everyone.

In a survey completed by staples.com, 3 out of 4 respondents said they don’t have the latest technology to do their job more efficiently. While it’s not realistic to think that every business or non-profit (especially non-profits) could write a check to get everyone the newest software and equipment – many times those tools are neglected or not updated after the point that they should be. Whether it’s an old computer or printer, or even communication that could be improved by new tech, efficiency is being held back.

Suggestion: Take a scheduled approach to auditing and replacing outdated technology. Evaluate and review processes and procedures that could be improved with technology. For example, here at Ultra Graphics we use the free service Asana to manage our communication with web services and support tasks. Try sending a 30 second email to replace a 30 minute meeting. Upgrade those 5 year old computers that can barely open a spreadsheet, new decent-quality business desktops can be purchased for as little as $250-400.

5. Overworked employees are less productive and efficient

A common sense approach when thinking about the amount of time spent working would suggest that more time equals more productivity – but that isn’t actually the case. We are human beings, and humans get tired, bored, stressed, and distracted. An interesting research study done at Stanford University found that an employee loses productivity after around the 50th work hour. The personal mental and physical toll that those kind of hours puts on a worker means that they start making mistakes and lose focus. The same study found that after 70 hours, the worker is unlikely to accomplish anything worthwhile during those extra hours.

Suggestion: Be deliberate with your time, and know when to call it quits for the day. There will always be more work to do, and you’re not doing anyone any favors by overworking yourself. Strive to create a healthy work/life balance by specifying times for each. You could also ask your coworkers or supervisor for help. Ideally, utilizing the last four items in this post will help workers with their efficiency and productivity, which will lessen the need to work extra hours anyway! There’s some good tips for time management in this blog post.

That’s our list! Does your business or non-profit suffer from any of the productivity or efficiency killers in our list. If so, what did you do to navigate to a solution, we’d love to know.

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