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5 Hacks to Build a More Productive Environment in 2014

By: John Meyer

 

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Your business is only as good as your team, and your team is only successful when it’s firing on all cylinders. Unnecessary procedures, an over-reliance on email, poor communication, and you—the boss—can drain your team members’ productivity and get in the way of them doing their best work.

 
Giving the processes that drive your company regular tune-ups will keep your team productive, motivated, and satisfied over the course of the year. Here are five straightforward hacks to make your team more productive in 2014:
 
1. Stop micromanaging. Delegating is difficult for many top managers, but following Ronald Reagan’s maxim of “trust, but verify” makes it easier. The boss is often the biggest obstacle to efficiency because your team members must go through layers of approval to complete their tasks.
 
Instead of micromanaging, set up a clear system of checks and balances, whether it’s one-on-one meetings, carbon copies on emails, or shared to-do lists. With the right checks in place, you can relinquish some of your responsibilities with confidence.
 
2. Ask before you act. Encourage feedback from your team. Fluid feedback ensures that you’re not blocking colleagues from developing and can help nip problems in the bud. Before you make your next decision, why not ask a team member what he or she would do? Let others make more of the decisions, and provide constructive feedback when necessary.
 
3. Perfect processes. We all know we should carefully document our systems and processes, but that can be super annoying. Give SweetProcess a try: The Web-based service streamlines the documenting and recording of your systems, lets you collaborate on the files you create, and has a handy PDF export function.
 
A creative business isn’t a factory; it has its own personalities, culture, and nuances, but keeping everyone on the same page allows your team members to do their jobs better.
 
4. Utilize cloud solutions. Mailbox and Dropbox have been invaluable to me. When set up correctly, Dropbox gives your team everything it needs to share and work on files across the Web. There’s no need to ask for a JPEG or document to be sent over because everything’s already in your Dropbox.
 
Mailbox is the antidote to the email inefficiency I mentioned earlier. Snooze what you don’t need, get rid of everything in your inbox in one fell swoop, and archive and delete your way to “inbox zero” so you can focus on what matters.
 
5. Get offline. As amazing as the Internet is, there are times when you need to go offline to focus on a project or larger task. #OfflineDarkSixty is my personal hashtag for getting offline. Try “going dark” for 60 minutes with no Internet access; you might be surprised at what you can accomplish. Tweet out the hashtag before you get started to encourage others to join you.
 
Hacks are great, but really, the best way to boost productivity is to continually experiment. New tools, new ideas, and new habits will foster an environment of innovation and progress. You can weed out the bad ideas, nurture the good ones, and simplify processes as you grow.
 
Avoid getting stuck in the same old routine just because it’s the way you’ve always done things. Being more productive means cutting the fat, making small changes to improve results, and getting out of the way so your team can do what it does best.
 
What new productivity hacks are you excited to try to boost your team’s productivity in 2014?
Published: February 11, 2014
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John Meyer

John T. Meyer is the co-founder and CEO of Lemonly, a visual marketing firm that specializes in infographics and data visualization. Always sweet, never sour, its mission is to create understanding through visuals. Connect with John on Twitter and Google+.

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