Productivity

Seven steps to improve work efficiency and stop wasting time

Picture of a man and a woman at a desk while using a touch-screen device and pen

According to Forbes.com, 10% of us waste at least 3 to 5 (or more) hours per day, and 79% of us waste between 30 minutes and 3 hours. Added up over the course of the year (assuming a 5-day work week with 30 minutes of wasted time per day), that amounts to more than 5 days of wasted time per year.

 

As a business owner, imagine what you could do with that time.

 

By making small changes to improve your work efficiency, you can take control of your work life, you can accomplish more at work and get more of your “life life” back. Start by:

 

1) Knowing what you need to get done. Most business owners have a lot on their plates – and are constantly being pulled in multiple directions at once. In order to stay organized, keep a task list that goes everywhere you do. By using a to-do list app on your phone to keep you on track, you can improve your work efficiency – no matter where you roam.

 

2) Trade in face-to-face meetings for video chats. Getting everyone in the same room is nice, but with commute time being wasted time, virtual meetings are worth experimenting with. Not only do they allow you to see your staff, your advisors or your clients, but many also make it easy to share files in real time – just as you would if you were meeting in person.

 

3) Change up your surroundings. When it comes to work efficiency, sometimes, the smallest adjustment can have the biggest impact. So, if you find yourself with a case of writer’s block, in need of an “a ha!” moment, or you just feel hemmed in by your usual workspace, move. Head to a café to work, take a project to a park, or try out a co-working space. According to Productivity Café, you “might have an easier time getting things done if you change your environment.”

4) Automate appointment making. If you own a salon, offer body work, personal training or private classes or services of any kind, you live by your schedule. But taking appointment bookings over the phone or via text can kill your productivity and take a bite out of your personal time. Which is where an online booking app that's attached to your website can help. By empowering your clients to make or change their appointments online, you can gain valuable time to focus on building your services and growing your business.

 

5) Take a break – and encourage your employees to take breaks, too. According to a recent article, a study by TORK found that "nearly 90% of North American employees claim that taking a lunch break helps them feel refreshed and ready to get back to work." And a separate study by Total Wellness revealed that focus, energy, and work efficiency improved when employees took breaks. So, step outside of the office once in a while, stretch your legs, and give your mind a chance to recharge in the middle of the day.

 

6) Stop sending paper bills – and start accepting online payments. When you're running a small business, delivering your invoices and getting paid promptly can make all the difference. So instead of using paper for billing, switch to invoicing software that allows you to create and send professional-looking invoices electronically – and accept payments online. It's better for your peace of mind, better for your bottom line, and much more efficient.

 

7) Thank the people you count on. Gratitude is a powerful thing that creates a positive cycle (the person expressing thankfulness feels good and the person being thanked does, too). Not only that, but it can actually improve work efficiency. In fact, one study from Stanford University showed that "managers who expressed gratitude to their employees generated 50 percent higher productivity." Try devoting the last 20 or 30 minutes of the week sending emails or old-fashioned thank you letters to recognize your staff, service providers, and clients. You'll feel better about your place in the world – and so will they.

 

If you want to improve work efficiency, start with one or two of these tips, make them part of your company's culture, then add another, and another. It's easier (and less scary) to take small steps than to overhaul your entire approach to business. Small changes can have a big impact.

 

Discover more productivity hacks to work smarter, faster and more efficiently.

About the author

Microsoft 365 Team

The Microsoft 365 team is focused on sharing resources to help you start, run, and grow your business.

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