Use these productivity tips to save time, guide your team, and get more done: with or without PM tools like Asana, Teamwork, and Monday.
Many teams struggle to work effectively and efficiently. A global study revealed that 60% of knowledge workers spend their time doing “work about work.” Here are some symptoms that indicate your team may be facing the same problem:
- It’s a challenge to assign responsibility and hold team members accountable
- Everyone’s calendars are full of calls
- It’s hard to track progress against deadlines
- Assignments are often overdue or incomplete
- They’re overwhelmed with notifications coming from several places (emails, chat, Slack, etc)
A project management (PM) tool may be part of the answer to this problem. And I recommend every team uses one because they provide a “home” for managing work and are designed to transparently manage tasks across a team. But a project management tool is not a total solution, especially when it’s not used the right way.
So how can you help your team work more efficiently? Apply these 7 tips to boost team productivity.
Communicate Relentlessly from Strategy to Execution
86% of employees and executives attribute ineffective communication or lack of collaboration to failures in the workplace, according to Salesforce. This is an exciting statistic. Yes, I said exciting. Because by reverse engineering this and focusing on communication, you dramatically increase workplace success. And workplace success is is the ultimate productivity.
Start this process by communicating your business priorities and the “why” behind the work. When your team knows how their daily activities contribute to business priorities, they work smarter and with greater motivation.
Then keep it up. We know that open and clear communication increases employee engagement. According to Gallup research, the lost productivity for each disengaged employee costs employers $3,400 to $10,000 in salary each year. So, invest in communication to increase engagement and team productivity.
Put Plans in Writing
Lack of clarity is a pervasive saboteur of productivity. Documenting things makes them clear. Even if it’s a quick email, build the habit of writing down the 4 W’s:
- What needs to be done
- Why it matters
- Who is responsible and involved
- When it needs to be done
Use this simple framework to improve productivity by eliminating ambiguity.
This is even more important for big projects. Check out Teamwork’s guide on How To Create The Perfect Project Charter to clearly define a project from the get-go.
Make Accountability a Habit
Build a culture where everyone has a clear sense of who is doing what and each team member takes ownership. Any time your team embarks on a project or brainstorms solutions to a problem, ensure no one walks away until there’s a name and date next to each next step they agree to. Productivity rises when your team works toward deadlines and knows others are depending on them.
PM tools make this easy and let everyone see how responsibility is shared across a project. If you don’t have a PM tool, simply schedule regular touchpoints to serve as an accountability check. Make sure you have a shared document to reference. The probability of success increases when things are written down.
Manage Your Team’s Workload
Balancing your team’s responsibilities is your responsibility as a leader. A realistic workload enables people to meet deadlines and deliver their highest quality work.
If you’re using a project management tool, practice looking at the amount and distribution of work on your team. Asana and Teamwork have a feature called Workload that allows you to track each teammate’s assignments at an easy glance.
Regardless, check-in with your team to see what’s on their plate. And pay attention to their morale and behavior patterns. If you notice a dip, it may signal that their workload is too heavy.
Make Documents and Resources Easily Accessible
Your team should have an easy way to access the information and resources they need when working on a project.
Cloud systems like SharePoint, QuickConnect, Dropbox, or Google Drive are a way to centralize your resources for everyone to access as needed. Easy access to resources prevents roadblocks or miscommunications and keeps projects going smoothly.
Many productivity tools allow you to upload files and resources directly within the task for easy access. In Asana, you can easily find all files in a project with a few simple steps.
Schedule Time To Focus
Many teams get caught in the trap of spending too much interacting and planning — and not enough time on getting things done.
Empower your team to set time aside for uninterrupted work and respect it like your would a team meeting. Blocking time off this way helps them stay focused and work efficiently, even if it’s for 60-90 minutes.
A few ways you and your team can work without distraction:
- Use tools like Focusmate, a platform designed to pair you with an accountability partner to get 50 minutes of uninterrupted work done.
- Install an extension like OneTab. This extension condenses all of your unused tabs in a list, leaving you with only the tab you need for work.
- Turn to the Pomodoro technique, to make time to focus your attention for short amounts of time. You can use an app or run your stopwatch for 25 minutes.
- Build a team schedule via a calendar that uses time blocking. Time blocking means setting time aside for each task — no multitasking! Depending on your team workflow, this could mean creative mornings, meetings in the afternoon, or strategy sessions on Mondays. The beauty of time blocking is that you can build as you need to; there are no rules other than single-tasking. Learn about time-blocking here.
Make Your Space Work for You
Whether your team works remotely or in-office, a functional workspace helps you feel comfortable, avoid distractions, and work efficiently.
Three things to consider:
- Your furniture: A high-quality chair and a desk that suits your body will help with your posture and ultimately prevent aches and pains.
- Your tech: Your screen size (have you considered using dual screens?), your computer’s processor, an ergonomic keyboard and a mouse, speakers (or a headset), and fast internet help you be your most productive self.
- Lighting: When you stare at a screen all day, having proper lighting is a saver for your eyes, can help prevent headaches and makes your workspace more comfortable. Lighting also sets the mood in your workspace; blue and white lights are known to keep you energized and help focus, while warmer lights help you relax.
Bonus Tip: Automate Repetitive Tasks
Most processes and workflows have at least a handful of steps that can be automated. Your team will thank you, since automations help your team save time by taking repetitive tasks off their plates.
For a quick win, ask your team what mundane things they wish they could get rid of. Then turn them loose to see if some of those items can be automated.
Is Your Team Struggling To Be Productive?
If you have the right team in place but they’re spending too long on tasks, finding it difficult to use their productivity tools, or just struggling to get the work done, it might be time to get an outside perspective.