We all want to be more productive in our work. We want to get more done, to help our team achieve more, and to reach those all-important goals. However, all too often, the way we manage to do that is by taking on more hours, pushing ourselves and our team too hard, and seriously risking burning ourselves out. Burnout must be taken seriously, due to the dangers that unmanaged stress, as well as the sleeplessness that comes with it, can be.
Below, we’re going to look at a range of tips to help you become much more productive, but without the risk of burnout.
Make sure your goals are realistic
This is your number one priority. If you find that your team is having trouble meeting the goals that you set, then you should first look at the goals you set, not the team that didn’t meet them. How do you know if your goals are realistic? A standard practice in business and one that works is to follow the SMART formula.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (or Reasonable), and Time-Bound. If your goals do not fit those qualities, or you’re uncertain if they do, then you haven’t communicated those goals well enough to your team for them to work towards them productively.
Step back from micromanaging
Micromanaging helps no-one. It’s important to review an employee's work to make sure they’ve got it covered, but when you’re hovering over their shoulder constantly, you are giving yourself the unnecessary task of monitoring them when you could be doing something much more productive. Furthermore, it’s nigh impossible for someone to be engaged with their work and without distraction when they know that someone is waiting in the wings to pick holes with it.
If you want to get the absolute best from your employees, then learning how to get out of their way is essential. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, especially if you think that you’re simply being helpful, but the greater likelihood is that you’re holding them back. Give them the room to do their own work and everyone will be much happier for it.
Make sure you have time to manage your work-life balance
Simply put, the only to make entirely sure that your team isn’t at great risk of burnout is to ensure that you’re pushing them to work more than they should be. For that reason, setting up a Sling work schedule can be highly helpful. You can see when members of the team are working, what they’re working on, and make sure they don’t have too much on their plate.
Furthermore, you should always make it clear that they can turn down extra work and that they shouldn’t feel coerced by your expectations when you offer it. Overtime and extreme work schedules are major causes of burnout.
Clear up communication snafus
A lot of time can be wasted by poor communication. It’s no-one’s fault, really, is there is a miscommunication problem somewhere. Someone might hear or read a request wrong, leading them to make errors in their work, which then requires more time and work to clear up.
One of the best ways to clear up communication issues is to have clear methods of communication outlined. Team management software with messaging and discussion features for different teams and subjects can be highly useful. It also makes it easier to track who said what across the whole team.
Identify who does what best
When it comes to joint projects, then the first step (once you’ve laid out the goals) should be to look at the individual tasks and comfort zones that each team member works best in. Of course, you can use the opportunity to help them get experience in new skillsets, but in general, you should make sure that you have people on the tasks where they are most likely to succeed.
As an example, one of your team members may not be a great out of the box thinker, but they may be excellent with critical analysis of data and facts. As such, they should not be the one pitching creative ideas for new products, but rather should be doing the research legwork to support those ideas.
Use a work priority matrix
As a business owner or a team leader, it’s always on you to lead by example. If you want to teach people how to get more work done in a day, then you have to lead by example. One way is to use a work priority matrix.
Essentially, this means compiling the list of tasks you have to do in a day, figuring out what is most important, and then postponing or outright eliminating the work that isn’t as necessary. If the work priority matrix works for you, you can teach your team about it, too.
Create time blocks for your day
When you have figured out your to-do list (as well as what you won’t be doing), you should sit down and use a time block system to figure out when best to work on it. A time block system makes sure that you give teach task the time it needs during the day.
Most importantly, however, it makes sure you don’t spend too much time on a project, giving yourself the freedom to move and make sure every task gets its time in the spotlight.
Know when you need help
If your team is using a priority matrix and a time block system but still you find everyone is behind on their work, you have too much work for them to realistically do. It’s time to recognise you need help and to leave it to the experts.
Outsourcing tasks that are either extremely time demanding or require specific expertise to be done efficiently is key to running a team successfully. Simply put, trying to force your team to do work that they don’t have the time or skill to do will burn them out extremely quickly.
Consider some project management software
How do you know exactly how productive your team is being? Project management software might be just the tool that you need to figure it out. These work like time blocks, only they show the expected progress on the project over a much longer period of time, factoring in the work of not just one person, but the whole team.
This way, you can identify scheduling conflicts, bottlenecks, and other issues that will hold up the team’s work. Furthermore, like team management software, it does offer some means of clearing up communication in the team, which will help everyone work more efficiently as described above.
Stop holding unnecessary meetings
One last note that’s not quite as important as any of the points above but still needs to be made: if you can fit it in an email, you don’t need to hold a meeting about it. Meetings interrupt the workday. Furthermore, most meetings will have stretches of employees being held captive for a discussion that’s completely irrelevant to them. Above all else, it’s going to kill their engagement with their work. If you need to have a meeting, make sure that every topic discussed in it is relevant to every participant.
You don’t have to drive yourself and your team off the deep end to achieve better results. With the tips above, you can find the keys to cutting inefficiencies and unlocking productivity without having to sacrifice your well being or your work-life balance. Collaboration.