How to improve performance and maintain productivity at the same time

How to improve performance and maintain productivity at the same time

There are only so many hours in the day, so making the most of your time is critical. There are two ways increase your output–either put in more hours or work smarter. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the latter.

Being more productive at work isn’t rocket science, but it does require being more deliberate about how you manage your time. This post will walk you through 15 simple but effective strategies for increasing your productivity at work.

1. Track and limit how much time you’re spending on tasks.

You may think you’re pretty good at gauging how much time you’re spending on various tasks. However, some research suggests only around 17 percent of people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. A tool like Rescue Time can help by letting you know exactly how much time you spend on daily tasks, including social media, email, word processing, and apps.

2. Take regular breaks.

It sounds counterintuitive, but taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. Some research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance; while working at a task without breaks leads to a steady decline in performance.

3. Set self-imposed deadlines.

While we usually think of a stress as a bad thing, a manageable level of self-imposed stress can actually be helpful in terms of giving us focus and helping us meet our goals. For open-ended tasks or projects, try giving yourself a deadline, and then stick to it. You may be surprised to discover just how focused and productive you can be when you’re watching the clock.

4. Follow the “two-minute rule.”

Entrepreneur Steve Olenski recommends implementing the “two-minute rule” to make the most of small windows of time that you have at work. The idea is this: If you see a task or action that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. According to Olenski, completing the task right away actually takes less time than having to get back to it later. Implementing this has made him one of the most influential content strategists online.

5. Just say no to meetings.

Meetings are one of the biggest time-sucks around, yet somehow we continue to unquestioningly book them, attend them and, inevitably, complain about them. According to Atlassian, the average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. Before booking your next meeting, ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals or tasks via email, phone, or Web-based meeting (which may be slightly more productive).

6. Hold standing meetings.

If you absolutely must have a meeting, there’s some evidence that standing meetings (they’re just what they sound like–everyone stands) can result in increased group arousal, decreased territoriality, and improved group performance. For those times when meetings are unavoidable, you may want to check out these 12 unusual ways to spur creativity during meetings.

7. Quit multitasking.

While we tend to think of the ability to multitask as an important skill for increasing efficiency, the opposite may in fact be true. Psychologists have found attempting to do several tasks at once can result in lost time and productivity. Instead, make a habit of committing to a single task before moving on to your next project.

8. Take advantage of your commute.

This goes for any unexpected “bonus” time you may find on your hands suggests author Miranda Marquit. Instead of Candy-Crushing or Facebooking, use that time to pound out some emails, create your daily to-do list, or do some brainstorming.

9. Give up on the illusion of perfection.

It’s common for entrepreneurs to get hung up on attempting to perfect a task–the reality is nothing is ever perfect. Rather than wasting time chasing after this illusion, bang out your task to the best of your ability and move on. It’s better to complete the task and move it off your plate; if need be, you can always come back and adjust or improve it later.

10. Take exercise breaks.

Using work time to exercise may actually help improve productivity, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. If possible, build in set times during the week for taking a walk or going to the gym. Getting your blood pumping could be just what’s needed to clear your head and get your focus back.

11. Be proactive, not reactive.

Allowing incoming phone calls and emails to dictate how you spend your day will mean you do a great job of putting out fires–but that may be all you get accomplished. My friend and business partner Peter Daisyme from free hosting company Hostt says, “Set aside time for responding to emails, but don’t let them determine what your day is going to look like. Have a plan of attack at the start of each day, and then do your best to stick to it.”

12. Turn off notifications.

No one can be expected to resist the allure of an email, voicemail, or text notification. During work hours, turn off your notifications, and instead build in time to check email and messages. This is all part of being proactive rather than reactive (see number 11).

13. Work in 90-minute intervals.

Researchers at Florida State University have found elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus. They also found that top performing subjects tend to work no more than 4.5 hours per day. Sounds good to me!

14. Give yourself something nice to look at.

It may sound unlikely, but some research shows outfitting an office with aesthetically pleasing elements–like plants–can increase productivity by up to 15 percent. Jazz up your office space with pictures, candles, flowers, or anything else that puts a smile on your face. For other ideas on increasing your happiness quotient at work, see my post 15 Proven Tips to Be Happy at Work.

15. Minimize interruptions (to the best of your ability).

Having a colleague pop her head into your office to chat may seem innocuous, but even brief interruptions appear to produce a change in work pattern and a corresponding drop in productivity. Minimizing interruptions may mean setting office hours, keeping your door closed, or working from home for time-sensitive projects.

If you feel the need to increase your productivity at work, resist the temptation put in longer hours or pack more into your already-full calendar. Instead, take a step back, and think about ways you can work smarter, not harder.

Looking for more productivity tips? Check out my posts 7 Productivity Hacks Every Busy Entrepreneur Should Try and 5 Things Productive Entrepreneurs Do Each Day.

What are your best work-related productivity tips? Have you found the secret to maximizing your own productivity in the office? Share below!

Perhaps it goes without saying that an organization’s success is largely dependent on how well every employee performs. Yet many organizations struggle with maximizing employee performance while also keeping employee morale high and turnover low. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, there are seemingly endless ways that managers and HR teams can impact employee productivity, both directly and indirectly. Let’s take a look at some ideas to improve employee performance.

Techniques to Manage and Improve Employee Performance

Here are some ideas for managing and improving employee performance:

  • Set clear expectations and communicate them well, then continue to manage expectations. Frequent communication is critical. Ensure employees understand their objectives by asking them to explain them in their own words.
  • Train managers and give them the tools to help their employees excel. Be on the lookout for managers who have underperforming teams—and see what the root cause is.
  • Utilize employee handbooks to keep everyone on the same page and help to ensure employees understanding of company policies.
  • Consistently follow the company’s employee discipline policy, and always discipline promptly if necessary. This step maintains consistent and fair treatment of employees so they see that they do not have to tolerate or pick up slack for poor performers. Perhaps counterintuitively, a consistently applied and fair disciplinary policy can keep morale up (assuming of course it is appropriate and not overreaching). A disciplinary policy does this by ensuring everyone is held accountable for their actions.
  • Conduct regular and timely employee performance appraisals so employees know where they stand and what their goals are.
  • Use SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. When employee goals are realistic, it gives them ownership and encourages them to achieve their goals.
  • Prioritize employee development. In other words, help them help you. You can do this by ensuring your employees know how to achieve their career goals within the organization and, likewise, ensuring that employee goals are known so you can both plan accordingly. Work with the employee to close any skills gaps that exist that would be an impediment to achieving their long-term career goals. This improves employee skills, which benefit both the employer and employee, and it also helps maintain and improve employee satisfaction levels.
  • Give frequent and timely feedback. When an employee does something worth recognizing, give him or her that recognition. If appropriate, consider giving a reward for employee service that exceeds expectations. It’s also important to ensure that when an employee steers slightly off course, he or she knows that too. Even negative feedback (as long as it’s not the only feedback!) helps because it ensures employees understand expectations.
  • Be open to receiving feedback too. Listen to employees when they ask for better tools. Listen to their needs to ensure they’re happy. Ensure each person is in the right role for his or her needs and skills.
  • Review company hiring procedures to ensure the best candidates are being selected.
  • Conduct employee engagement surveys; poor performance can be a result of lack of engagement and low morale.
  • Focus on morale. Take steps to ensure that employees are satisfied with their jobs. Here are some ways:
    • Review benefits, work environment, salary levels, and more. Ensure the benefits offered are benefits that your employees value. Remember that employee benefits that help employees—even if they’re not high-value items—can improve morale.
    • Ensure employees understand the organization’s mission and vision; giving employees something to get behind can help them understand their purpose and role in helping the organization succeed.
    • Consider ways to improve team cohesiveness.
    • Ask employees what they need.
  • Ensure managers are being consistent in their application of company policies. For example, ensure there’s no appearance of favoritism and no individuals or groups who do not have to follow the rules. Inconsistency can cause frustration, which can decrease productivity.
  • Give employees the right tools and processes to excel. Sometimes investing in a better tool or process can reap huge dividends in productivity and employee satisfaction.
  • Give employees the power to do their jobs well. Empowering employees is critical; it allows them to not get absorbed by minor roadblocks. Empowering employees can include ensuring they have the authority to make decisions critical to their success—and the ability to delegate if necessary to get the job done. Employees should know and have input into their goals and objectives, which will also give ownership—they should help to decide goals, deadlines, and more. Give them the resources they need, and hold them accountable without micromanaging. Encourage employees to find solutions to problems.

Many times when productivity suffers, there is an identifiable root cause. Things like dissatisfied employees, the wrong fit for the role, not enough training, lacking the right tools, conflicting priorities, and unclear expectations can all get in the way of employee productivity. Identifying these root causes can help uncover the path to maximum productivity.

*This article does not constitute legal advice. Always consult legal counsel with specific questions.

About Bridget Miller:

Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.

Use 6 Steps to Coach Employees to Help Improve their Work Performance

How to improve performance and maintain productivity at the same time

The First Step in Coaching an Employee

The first step in any effort to improve employee performance is counseling or coaching. Counseling or coaching is part of the day-to-day interaction between a manager and an employee who reports to them, or an HR professional and the line managers in the HR staff person’s organization.

Coaching often provides positive feedback about the employee’s contributions. Employees need to know when they are effective contributors.

By providing this positive feedback, you are also letting the employee know the actions and contributions that you’d like to reinforce so that you see more of them.

Coaching When Performance Issues Exist

At the same time, regular coaching brings performance issues to an employee’s attention when they are minor. Your coaching feedback assists the employee to correct these issues before they become significant detractions from her performance.

The goal of performance coaching is not to make the employee feel bad, nor is it provided to show how much the HR professional or manager knows. The goal of coaching is to work with the employee to solve performance problems and to improve the work of the employee, the team, and the department.

Employees who respond positively to coaching and improve their performance can become valued contributors to the success of the business. Employees who fail to improve will find themselves placed on a formal performance improvement plan, known as a PIP. This sets up a formal process wherein the manager meets regularly with the underperforming employee to provide coaching and feedback.

At the meetings, they also evaluate how well the employee is performing in achieving the performance goals that were enumerated in the PIP. Generally, by the time an employee has received a PIP, Human Resources staff are significantly involved in both the meetings and in the review of the employee’s progress and performance. The HR staff are also significantly involved in ensuring that the manager’s documentation of the employee’s performance and the meetings is appropriate.

Employees who fail to improve when on the PIP are likely to find their employment terminated.

Second Example of Performance Coaching

In a second example of the use of performance coaching, managers can use performance coaching to help employees who are effective contributors improve and become even more effective contributors. Done well, coaching can help an employee continuously improve their skills, experience, and ability to contribute.

The time managers spend in performance coaching with their best, most contributing employees is time well spent. It is more likely to produce increased results for the organization and for the manager’s department and priorities.

It is ironic that many managers find that they spend the majority of their time with their troubled, or underperforming employees. This is despite the fact that the most significant value from their time and energy investment most often comes from the opposite priority.

Coaching is an effective tool for managers to deploy in their efforts to help employees succeed, and especially help employees increase their skills and their potential opportunities for promotion or lateral moves to more interesting positions.

6 Coaching Steps to Follow

Use these six steps to provide effective supportive coaching to your reporting employees.

Demonstrate your belief in the employee’s ability too improve

Show confidence in the employee’s ability and willingness to solve the problem. Ask him or her for help in solving the problem or improving their performance. Ask the employee to join in with you with the goal of increasing the employees’ effectiveness as a contributor to your organization.

Describe the performance problem to the employee.

Focus on the problem or behavior that needs improvement, not on the person. Use descriptions of the behavior with examples so that you and the employee share meaning.

Ask for the employee’s view of the situation. Do they see the same problem or opportunity for improvement that you do?

Determine whether issues exist that limit the employee

Ask yourself whether the employee has the ability to perform the task or accomplish the objectives. Four common barriers are time, training, tools, and temperament. Determine how to remove these barriers, assuming one exists. Determine whether the employee needs your help to remove the barriers—a key role of a manager—or if he or she is able to tackle them alone.

Discuss potential solutions to the problem or improvement actions to take

With a lower-performing employee, ask the employee for their ideas about how to correct the problem, or prevent it from happening again. With a high performing employee, talk about continuous improvement.

Agree on a written action plan

The written plan should list what the employee, the manager, and possibly, the HR professional, will do to correct the problem or improve the situation. Identify the core goals that the employee must meet to achieve the appropriate level of performance that the organization needs.

Set a date and time for follow-up

Determine if a critical feedback path is needed, so the manager knows how the employee is progressing. Offer positive encouragement. Express confidence in the employee’s ability to improve. Recognize, however, that the only person who is in charge of their performance improvement is the employee. As much as you try to help, he or she is the one who is ultimately in charge of their growth and improvement.

The Bottom Line

You can help your reporting employees improve their current performance, or in the case of an already effective employee, help them become more effective. Performance coaching is a powerful tool when managers take advantage of its usefulness.

It goes without saying that the success of your company largely depends on how well employees perform their tasks. Yet, you would not be the first company to struggle with defining what that looks like.

Knowing how to maximize employee potential may seem just as foggy, even while morale suffers and turnover is at peak levels. Flipping those dynamics may involve several different solutions.

Before acting on one solution, make sure you understand why employees are underperforming first. This information is invaluable to ensuring the solutions you choose really solve the problem.

Why Employees Underperform

The best place to start when you want to know how to improve employee performance is gaining an understanding. There are reasons why employees are not performing at their optimal level. Some reasons are valid and hold clues for fixing the issue without recruiting replacements.

Keep an open mind without jumping to conclusions. The door of communication should remain open so you can discuss concerns and address them directly.

For instance, you might notice in the latest attendance report that an employee has excessive tardiness. Ask the employee why he or she arrived at work so late in the past few weeks.

When the objective is to find a solution, you might discover that issues of a personal or domestic nature are the reasons for the employee’s tardiness. Perhaps you can adjust regular standards while the employee works through the issue.

Just make sure other employees know without sharing personal details. You want to avoid the appearance of favoritism, which can have its own negative effect on performance and morale.

Inadequate Capabilities

For some employees, inadequate skills or lack of experience may inhibit their ability to perform their job successfully. If just one of these factors are missing, chances increase that employees will underperform.

Unclear Goals and Accountabilities

Employees need very clear direction about their responsibilities, along with the expectations for achievement. Daily work schedules that include job priorities might get bumped by a crisis or changes in direction. Keeping accountabilities clear will help to minimize conflict.

Techniques to Improve Employee Performance

Once you get a handle on what is causing employees to underperform, you can target solutions to address those issues. Here are six ideas to help you manage and improve employee performance in your organization.

1. Communicate clear expectations.

Making sure employees are clear about their work assignments means communicating those expectations well. Continue to manage what is expected through frequent communications.

If employees can explain objectives in their own words, it is a good chance that they know what to do and how to get it done.

2. Make sure performance appraisals are consistent.

Regular and timely appraisals ensure employees know where they stand at all times. Conducting performance appraisals regularly also keeps goals in the forefront of daily tasks.

3. Make employee development a priority.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” This is a common interview question. Now that five years have passed, has your employee’s career goals been achieved? Or, are they still striving to reach their full potential within the organization?

If they are, maybe this is a good time to readdress those goals and plan accordingly. Work to close any skills gaps that will not only help them achieve long-term goals but will also benefit your company when their skills help you fulfill business objectives.

4. Take steps toward improving morale.

Employees perform better when they are satisfied with their job. Review things such as:

  • Work environment
  • Benefits
  • Salary level
  • Employee understanding of the mission and vision

Employees who understand how their role helps the company succeed are often more willing to do their very best.

5. Empower employees to do their jobs well.

Empowering employees can take on many forms as they gain the authority to make decisions that have a huge impact on their success.

Whether it is giving them input on goals and objectives, or allowing them to access their data without going to HR, minor roadblocks will not impede their progress. They have the resources they need, yet know they are held accountable without being micromanaged.

6. Utilize the right technologies.

Implement technology platforms that drive performance and engagement daily. Technology is crucial in today’s workforce, especially if you have a decentralized staff.

Mobile employees remain part of the team through powerful communication channels to keep everyone on the same page.

Organizational success thrives when the right rules and systems are in place. Simply wanting to know how to improve employee performance without including employee considerations may not help you achieve set goals.

Create times to have regular meetings and discussions – perhaps not waiting until performance appraisal day – to talk about areas of concern.

Waiting until your company experiences massive losses is the worst time to swing into action. Begin early, at the first sign of trouble, to determine the most effective ways to change an underperforming workforce into a solid team.

Managing a marketing team is not easy. Managing ANY team is not easy, for that matter. Take that from anyone who has done group projects in school. Grouping different kinds of people together leads to clashes in opinion, disarray and lots of miscommunication – however, if handled well and given a similar goal to work towards, most groups of people banded together can achieve the same unity we all see in shutterstock images (that we are all so envious of, I mean… how are those people always smiling?!).

How to improve performance and maintain productivity at the same time

Before we’re all left pondering too deeply about the truth and philosophies behind stock images, let’s get into the depth of something that would be of actual use. To understand efficiency and productivity better, let’s get our basic definitions straight, shall we?

Efficiency signifies a level of performance that describes a process that uses the lowest amount of inputs to create the greatest amount of outputs. Efficiency relates to the use of all inputs in producing any given output, including personal time and energy.

Productivity on the other hand is an average measure of the efficiency of production. It can be expressed as the ratio of output to inputs used in the production process, i.e. output per unit of input. When all outputs and inputs are included in the productivity measure, it’s called total productivity.

Efficiency affects productivity, which thereby affects profitability. How, you ask? Well, when you use the least amount of input, while to get the maximum amount of output, you save cash. (Ding ding ding! PROFIT! Also read as total sales – total costs = profit. So, reduced costs = more profit).

Profitability is usually one of the main objectives of any business, so improving efficiency and productivity should be standard, because… who wants to waste money, right?

Team Building Activities

For a team to work together efficiently and productively, it is of vital importance that the team members get along. The relationships the members have with each other will be the backbone of any team, otherwise a myriad of problems are likely to occur. So, the best idea would be to get your team involved in activities that would strengthen their relationships with each other. Here is a list of very useful team-building activities.

You may have to choose the activities that related to your business or the kind of team you ideally wanted to build. However, telling you from the experience, they actually help build a winning team.

Training

Staff productivity depends largely on the skills of the employees. In the case of marketing, training can help staff member increase their knowledge about what’s new is happening within the field so that they are better equipped at handling their tasks. Employees can join to conferences, webinars, read new books related to the subject or even best, you can involve them in a training program online.

In our case, we are a marketing agency and we believe that marketing is about creativity and creativity has no set rules and its changing all the time. So, if you want a winning marketing team that take your business and branding to the next level, you need to invest in training programs. A lot more than you think, you should.

Listen to your Employees

This one is understood, but communication is ESSENTIAL. You have to understand the needs of your employees, and also, any ideas that they might have. If employees feel sidelined, it will affect their motivation levels, which will, ergo affect their efficiency and productivity. So, be sure to be there for your employees. Give importance to their ideas, some might be pretty useful.

Another reason why you should be listening to your employees, way more than you are at the moment is because they are the real force behind your system. If they feel unheard, your system of profitability will affect negatively. Long story short, happy employee is directly proportional to healthy profitable business.

Financial Incentives

Generally, employees seek jobs to gets paid. However, since we’re dealing with humans here, the relationship between standard payment and the work produced doesn’t simplistically pertain to the laws of cause-and-effect – other factors does come into play.

Motivation, for one, can dwindle and that can affect the performance of employees, which, in turn can affect efficiency (and well, you know the rest). So, some extra financial incentives can get some gears working. Performance-related-pay or a bonus for the ‘employee of the month’ would definitely motivate the employees to be more efficient.

Delegation of Responsibility

I worked in under different organizations and one major flaw I see that creates frustration among teams. If you are not going to assign tasks based on SWOT analysis, you will see unnecessary pressure within the team and that will create demotivation amount those who are better performer among others.

The idea is to understand your team better (by identifying their strengths and weaknesses) you would be able to assign tasks based on strengths, or skills you know your team members want to sharpen. It’ll keep your top performers from being overloaded and help your whole team improve and stay engaged, while keeping the whole ordeal efficient.

Appropriate Management Style

Again, with understanding your team better, you would be able to understand their needs better and also, would be able to ascertain which management style would be appropriate for them. If your team members are experienced, then you can adopt a free-reign or (‘laissez-faire’) leadership style with them, leaving them to their own devices. If your team members are inexperienced, then you can adopt a more paternal leadership style, guiding them through their tasks.

The risks of adopting the wrong leadership styles are high. Let’s hypothetically assume that you adopt a free-reign leadership style with inexperienced team members. If you leave them to their own devices, they would be lost.

Define Roles and Tasks Clearly

Miscommunication can lead to a lot of disarray, but if you take care of that, the team can proceed smoothly with the work. For this purpose, tasks must be given with clear-cut instructions and what is expected of the team members. When there is clarity about who does what, people are much more likely to take ownership of their individual tasks.

There are tons more ideas to build a team that’s efficient as well as productive but I tried to cover few of the important points above. Try these ideas and building a winning team for your business.

When it comes to machine shop productivity, continuous improvement depends on efficient employees, equipment and processes.
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  • The Three Pillars of Reliable Machine Shop Productivity

How to improve performance and maintain productivity at the same time

Regardless of the size of your business, continuous improvement in productivity is essential to enhancing gross profits and maintaining competitiveness. Productivity on the machine shop floor depends on a combination of efficient employees, equipment and processes. Continuous improvement in all of these areas involves examining the current practices in place and making adjustments to systems, employee training and even the equipment used to generate parts and components.

Featured Content

Before you can adopt any method for continuous improvement for productivity, you will need to measure your existing output levels, create a baseline and implement solutions for measuring change. Shane Strowski, president of Precision Waterjet & Laser, shares the following eight steps to help you improve productivity and success on the shop floor.

1. Examine Your Production Workflow

The first step is all about identifying pain points in your current workflow. Analyze the people, technology and processes required for production as well as the procedures, communication tools and resources available across the company. Consider using value mapping as a way of identifying and monitoring projects for continuous improvement; this strategy enables managers to pinpoint issues and record how changes impact the overall system.

For more on establishing and continuously improving shop production flows, read about “The Three Pillars of Reliable Machine Shop Productivity.”

2. Update Machine Shop Processes

Share current workflow problems with project managers to develop continuous improvement plans for the manufacturing process. This could mean reassigning resources to different areas of the manufacturing floor, managing budgets or becoming ISO-certified. Be sure to systematically evaluate performance and interpret any appropriate changes.

For more on assessing machine shop processes, read about “Conducting a Manufacturing Audit.”

3. Invest in Training and Employee Education

The manufacturing and metalworking industries are constantly changing. There’s always a new technology promising to make manufacturing floors more efficient than ever. Technological advancements often change the skills required for certain tasks, and workers will require access to regular training to keep up with more advanced specialist skills.

For more on how to maximize your employees, read about how “People Drive Company Growth.”

4. Have Realistic Expectations

Client expectations, pressures regarding production and strict deadlines can contribute to unrealistic goals. When workload benchmarks on the manufacturing floor are unattainable without some compromise to safety or quality, employees become dissatisfied, preventing the company from reaching labor goals. To boost worker efficiency, it’s important to set realistic, clearly defined objectives that ensure a combination of punctuality, high-quality output and safe procedures.

For more on setting expectations in your shop, read about “How to Set Goals and Strategic Plans.”

5. Buy Smarter Machine Tools

Manufacturing is an industry in which an employee can only be as productive as their tools. While innovative machines such as waterjets or CNC machining centers can be costly in terms of initial setup and training, advanced equipment can have a positive long-term effect. Manufacturing companies often find that a machinery upgrade helps them stay competitive in a new and innovative market.

6. Invest in Maintenance

There’s a link between the costs associated with downtime and the time and budget invested in preventive measures. While new equipment can boost productivity, it also requires maintenance to ensure that it continues working at an optimum level. It is important that employees know how to troubleshoot instances of system downtime to quickly find root causes of errors. Don’t be too quick to blame the tool for problems. Remember to think about the process, the blueprint, the material and more.

For more on maintenance, read about the “Total Productive Maintenance” technique.

7. Stay Organized

The number of lost dollars and wasted labor hours that result from a lack of organization can be surprising. One surefire way to enhance productivity in any environment is to ensure that there is a well-organized place for everything: from materials to machine tools and documents. When organizing your work area as part of continuous improvement, think about the layout of your machining equipment and tools and whether they currently maximize efficiency. If not, consider rearranging your manufacturing floor to create a smoother workflow.

Workplace performance expert Jason Womack offers six of his most effective tips for better managing your time and giving your productivity a jolt.

If you resolved earlier this month to work smarter, stop procrastinating and be more productive, your best intentions may have quickly been subverted by your regularly scheduled work routine.

Workplace performance expert Jason Womack says changing the way we do our work to improve our productivity is hard because our processes have become habit, and in many cases these habits have made us successful (even if they drove us to the edge of sanity in the process).

“A mid-level manager, for example, has probably gotten in the habit of living by the ding of email or the buzz of the BlackBerry,” says Womack, and they’ve probably been rewarded for their responsiveness. “If they haven’t addressed that Pavlovian response, it will be difficult for them to shift their habits.”

The biggest mistake professionals make when it comes to time management, adds Womack, is continuing to use their time for activities that no longer deserve it.

“They keep going when they should be done,” he says. “They keep typing an email when they’ve already answered a question in the subject line. They keep talking on the phone when they’ve already addressed the purpose of the call. They stay in the meeting room after the meeting points have been covered.”

To prevent you from making those same mistakes, Womack shares six of his most effective time management and productivity boosting tips.

1. Stick to the 15-minute rule. Womack recommends organizing your workday into 15 minute chunks. If you work eight hours a day, you’ve got 32, 15-minute chunks. A 10-hour workday gives you 40, 15-minute chunks. Womack emphasizes 15 minutes because, he says, it’s long enough to get something done and short enough to find in your day.

When you have to schedule a meeting or conference call that would typically take an hour, Womack tells his clients to start it at 15 minutes past the hour and to end it on the hour. He believes people can accomplish in 45 minutes (that is, three, 15-minute chunks) what they think they need 60 minutes for. Containing the meeting to 45 minutes forces you to keep it on point and gives you an extra 15 minute chunk in which you can address another item on your to-do list.

2. Know when you’re done. Continuing to work on something when it is essentially done is a significant time-waster that most professionals aren’t even aware of. People need to think through the, ‘When am I done’ question, says Womack, who is also the author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More (Wiley 2012).

“When I get a nonfiction book, I’m done with that book when I’ve learned something from the author that I didn’t know before,” he says. “I’ve picked up books, paid $24.95, read it for two or three 15-minute chunks, learned something and given the book to my seatmate on a plane.”

3. Eliminate distractions. Eliminating distractions may not be a new time management tip, but Womack’s advice for avoiding specific distractions—such as a niggling coworker or a nagging manager—is novel and effective.

If your manager is prone to interrupting you with questions, Womack suggests preempting her. For example, instead of waiting for your manager to show up at your desk or ping you, approach her first at a few minutes before the hour, say, a 10:52 or 10:55 AM, ideally before a meeting or call. He says to tell her, “I have a bunch of things I’m working on, and a meeting at 11, and I’m trying to get any interruptions out of the way. Do you have anything you need to tell me or ask me before my meeting and before my work gets underway?”

Another tip from Womack: If you have a quick question for someone but don’t want to get caught up in a protracted conversation around it, call your contact (or stop by his desk) a few minutes before the hour, knowing that he might have a meeting on the hour and won’t have time for chit-chat, either.

4. Identify verbs that need attention. Womack recommends organizing your to-do list around verbs, such as call, draft, review, prepare and schedule. Those are tasks you can generally complete in one sitting and that help move a larger project forward, he says.

If you have big-picture verbs on your to-do list, such as plan, discuss, create or implement, replace them with action steps that break down the big picture project, adds Womack. Doing so will help you get started and reduce any feelings of being overwhelmed.

5. Be prepared for bonus time. The next time you find out your flight’s been delayed or your doctor is running late, don’t get annoyed. Recognize that you’ve just been given the gift of “bonus time.” If you bring some work with you wherever you go, as Womack suggests, you’ll have the chance to tackle it, whether that’s responding to email, making a call, reviewing a proposal or drafting a plan.

6. Use email shortcuts. Womack notes that both the BlackBerry and iPhone allow users to create quick keys or keyboard shortcuts when using the smartphones for email. He created several keyboard short cuts that call up boiler plate text that he frequently reuses. For example, if someone emails Womack asking him for information on how to use Microsoft Outlook more effectively, all he has to do is type his shortcut, “OL,” which automatically populates his email with a response to the question. (This video demonstrates how to create these keyboard shortcuts on an iPhone 4S. This one shows how to create them on a BlackBerry.)

These shortcuts save Womack a ton of time since he’s developed several for answers to some of the most common questions people ask him. It prevents him from having to recreate the answer every time someone emails him. It also saves him from having to search his sent folder and having to copy and paste the answer into email.

Workplace performance expert Jason Womack offers six of his most effective tips for better managing your time and giving your productivity a jolt.

If you resolved earlier this month to work smarter, stop procrastinating and be more productive, your best intentions may have quickly been subverted by your regularly scheduled work routine.

Workplace performance expert Jason Womack says changing the way we do our work to improve our productivity is hard because our processes have become habit, and in many cases these habits have made us successful (even if they drove us to the edge of sanity in the process).

“A mid-level manager, for example, has probably gotten in the habit of living by the ding of email or the buzz of the BlackBerry,” says Womack, and they’ve probably been rewarded for their responsiveness. “If they haven’t addressed that Pavlovian response, it will be difficult for them to shift their habits.”

The biggest mistake professionals make when it comes to time management, adds Womack, is continuing to use their time for activities that no longer deserve it.

“They keep going when they should be done,” he says. “They keep typing an email when they’ve already answered a question in the subject line. They keep talking on the phone when they’ve already addressed the purpose of the call. They stay in the meeting room after the meeting points have been covered.”

To prevent you from making those same mistakes, Womack shares six of his most effective time management and productivity boosting tips.

1. Stick to the 15-minute rule. Womack recommends organizing your workday into 15 minute chunks. If you work eight hours a day, you’ve got 32, 15-minute chunks. A 10-hour workday gives you 40, 15-minute chunks. Womack emphasizes 15 minutes because, he says, it’s long enough to get something done and short enough to find in your day.

When you have to schedule a meeting or conference call that would typically take an hour, Womack tells his clients to start it at 15 minutes past the hour and to end it on the hour. He believes people can accomplish in 45 minutes (that is, three, 15-minute chunks) what they think they need 60 minutes for. Containing the meeting to 45 minutes forces you to keep it on point and gives you an extra 15 minute chunk in which you can address another item on your to-do list.

2. Know when you’re done. Continuing to work on something when it is essentially done is a significant time-waster that most professionals aren’t even aware of. People need to think through the, ‘When am I done’ question, says Womack, who is also the author of Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More (Wiley 2012).

“When I get a nonfiction book, I’m done with that book when I’ve learned something from the author that I didn’t know before,” he says. “I’ve picked up books, paid $24.95, read it for two or three 15-minute chunks, learned something and given the book to my seatmate on a plane.”

3. Eliminate distractions. Eliminating distractions may not be a new time management tip, but Womack’s advice for avoiding specific distractions—such as a niggling coworker or a nagging manager—is novel and effective.

If your manager is prone to interrupting you with questions, Womack suggests preempting her. For example, instead of waiting for your manager to show up at your desk or ping you, approach her first at a few minutes before the hour, say, a 10:52 or 10:55 AM, ideally before a meeting or call. He says to tell her, “I have a bunch of things I’m working on, and a meeting at 11, and I’m trying to get any interruptions out of the way. Do you have anything you need to tell me or ask me before my meeting and before my work gets underway?”

Another tip from Womack: If you have a quick question for someone but don’t want to get caught up in a protracted conversation around it, call your contact (or stop by his desk) a few minutes before the hour, knowing that he might have a meeting on the hour and won’t have time for chit-chat, either.

4. Identify verbs that need attention. Womack recommends organizing your to-do list around verbs, such as call, draft, review, prepare and schedule. Those are tasks you can generally complete in one sitting and that help move a larger project forward, he says.

If you have big-picture verbs on your to-do list, such as plan, discuss, create or implement, replace them with action steps that break down the big picture project, adds Womack. Doing so will help you get started and reduce any feelings of being overwhelmed.

5. Be prepared for bonus time. The next time you find out your flight’s been delayed or your doctor is running late, don’t get annoyed. Recognize that you’ve just been given the gift of “bonus time.” If you bring some work with you wherever you go, as Womack suggests, you’ll have the chance to tackle it, whether that’s responding to email, making a call, reviewing a proposal or drafting a plan.

6. Use email shortcuts. Womack notes that both the BlackBerry and iPhone allow users to create quick keys or keyboard shortcuts when using the smartphones for email. He created several keyboard short cuts that call up boiler plate text that he frequently reuses. For example, if someone emails Womack asking him for information on how to use Microsoft Outlook more effectively, all he has to do is type his shortcut, “OL,” which automatically populates his email with a response to the question. (This video demonstrates how to create these keyboard shortcuts on an iPhone 4S. This one shows how to create them on a BlackBerry.)

These shortcuts save Womack a ton of time since he’s developed several for answers to some of the most common questions people ask him. It prevents him from having to recreate the answer every time someone emails him. It also saves him from having to search his sent folder and having to copy and paste the answer into email.

Productivity is one of the most vital elements in a successful work environment. Do you also know that having a clean work environment can boost your productivity?

A clean, and clutter-free office furniture and equipment helps employees feel motivated and organized.

Having a messy workspace, on the other hand, will be a breeding ground for stress and disorganized thoughts.

So how can you ensure the highest productivity as possible at work?

In this post, we’ll show you how you can maintain cleanliness in the workplace to improve levels of productivity:

1. Create an office cleaning schedule

The best way to improve workplace cleanliness is to develop a cleaning schedule in your office. It might sound challenging at first, but crafting a cleaning schedule beforehand helps you manage your needs.

For instance, employees can contribute to daily office cleaning. It removes any additional burden from one or two of your staff because the work is equally distributed.

So, set a schedule that precisely indicates whose turn it is to tidy up a part of the office on a given day. Even doing a simple task such as cleaning the floor already makes a significant difference.

2. Practice an eco-friendly cleaning attitude

It’s important to know that even simple, and everyday actions can have a significant impact on our planet.

For instance, if you’re choosing what chemicals to use to clean the workspace, choose carefully. Prefer environmentally friendly options, rather than conventional cleaning products that are toxic to the environment.

Make sure that you also recycle. You can do this by providing recycling bins in common areas.

Some workplaces hardly do the same, opting for general trash bins instead. As a result, a lot of things that are still recyclable end up in the landfill.

3. Go paperless

Receipts, printed emails, forms, and other paper transactions can quickly build over time. However, these can cause unnecessary clutter in the workplace.

So, why not take advantage of a variety of apps and programs that will help you save all your online information? It’s easy to save, organize files and share them with others.

Not only this will lead to less paper waste, but it’s also more environment-friendly.

4. Install proper air-conditioning system

In the workplace, it’s crucial to maintain an adequate circulation of air. Ventilation is vital because it ensures that the workplace has fresh and clean air throughout.

Therefore, you need to have a proper exhaust system. It aids in fighting infections such as airborne diseases. As a result, your staff will be and healthy and feel better.

5. Implement clear standards for rooms etiquette

Eating on desks may be convenient, (it is what most employees are guilty of, anyway) but they’re unhealthy. It this leaves crumbs and stickiness in a work area. That’s why most offices have a designated area where employees can eat.

However, a clean lunchroom can also quickly turn into a mess. Food can be messy, after all.

While some workers expect this area to be clean, other people can mess it up. The same goes for restrooms.

To resolve this issue, implement strict lunchroom and restroom etiquette. Come up with something simple such as posting clear reminders on these areas requesting every employee to clean up after themselves.

6. Provide sanitary products to mitigate the spread of illness

Office cleaning isn’t just organizing a pile of stuff, sweeping the floors, and wiping desks. It’s also about reducing the spread of illness in the workplace.

Keep in mind that colds and flu can quickly spread in the workplace.

That’s why you need to provide products such as sanitizers, wipes, tissues, hand sanitizers, etc. to ensure that germs are kept at bay.

7. Control waste management

If workers are unable to throw out things from where they’re sitting, chances are, the garbage will accumulate on their respective work areas.

For an easy fix on this issue, provide trash bins and putting it nearby workstations.

Moreover, workers should also condition themselves to throw out trash the very moment that it’s in their hands.

Improper waste management in the office can quickly ruin the cleanliness of the workplace . It’s crucial to keep these wastes in check before they pile up.

8. Hire an office professional cleaning specialist

Maybe, when it comes to work, keeping a clean office space isn’t always the first thing that crosses your mind. But it’s also crucial to foster a healthy and productive work environment for everyone.

Finding a high-quality professional cleaning service is an excellent way to ensure that your office is in top condition.

So instead of delegating cleaning tasks to employees, you can hire skilled cleaning professionals that will maintain your workspace. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about managing inventory, inspecting products, and liability issue that are linked to toxic materials and cleaning products.

According to Maid Sailors, an Office Cleaning in NYC , “Keeping a clean workspace has lots of benefits, but hiring a professional cleaning service has even more. A professional cleaning team will help you save a lot of time, money and stress in the long run.”

You can also ask a cleaning professional to do regular deep cleans on different workstations. Chances are, professional cleaners know all the germ hotspots. They also have the right expertise and cleaning materials to ensure that your entire workplace is hygienic and are in top shape.

Over to You

Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute asserts that clutter reduces the ability of the brain to take in information and stay focused. That’s why working in an untidy and messy workplace can negatively affect workplace productivity.

Of course, it is every employee’s responsibility to ensure that their workspace is clean. But hiring a cleaning staff pays off because it guarantees that you have a sparkling clean workspace in just a short span of time. As a result, employees can focus on finishing their work duties more productively.