Work Fast, But Work Right! Streamlining Your Business Effectively

Collaborative post – may contain affiliate links

Whether you feel like you are behind the times, or you are struggling to make sense of where you’re going wrong, every business can benefit from streamlining. But as a method of working smarter rather than harder, streamlining your business in a productive manner can be difficult because of the tasks you have ahead of you. You may find that you’re spinning so many plates that you’re not able to actively approach the task of streamlining your company. So what are the best ways to do this? 

Finding The Right Tools

The right tools can be invaluable. The big difficulty is in finding the right ones. It all depends on what the major issues are in your business. If you are struggling to keep a lid on the more technical approaches, you could use diverse tools like investment management software, organizational tools to keep everything structured, or it could just be a case of ensuring you’ve got a various smorgasbord of tools to realize your business plan. As so many businesses need a diverse roster of tools to keep track of everything, if you don’t have anything in place and you’re doing it in a more analog method, it’s time to make the upgrade.

Outsourcing The Pressing Tasks

As we begin to see what the most pressing tasks are, we’ve then got to analyze whether we have the abilities to do it in-house. As such, we have to think about outsourcing these components because it will make the completion of the task easier, and, quite possibly, for a fraction of the budget. If we outsource the pricing tasks, we are able to get the task completed, but also realize where we are failing. It’s as much about analyzing our weaknesses as much as our strengths. And when we start to see the bigger picture and there are a couple of issues, either relating to the technological aspects, or the fact that there isn’t an adequate filing system in place, we can easily outsource to IT specialists or administrative contractors to do the number crunching.

Working Smarter Instead Of Harder

Streamlining is all about mindset. If we look at a task and view it as a collection of processes, we are unnecessarily creating more work for ourselves. If we employ the mindset that we should work smarter instead of harder, this gives us the ability to problem-solve in a more productive manner. Rather than be able to do the task as it is, if we can analyze the least number of steps to completion, but employ this as part of the business approach, we are able to integrate this with better efficacy. 

It can take a while to find out where we are falling behind. When we think about our processes that need streamlining, we have still got to do it in a productive manner. Tools can definitely help you, as can outsourcing, but ultimately, it is the mindset of improvement and development that will provide you with the impetus to find the quickest steps to completing a task. At the same time, we need to work fast, but we need to work right.

Why Punctuality Makes My Blood Boil

boiling-point

Time is the most valuable currency, not money.

Everyone has the same amount, but we don’t use it the same.

Even before I was married and had kids, being on time mattered.

Efficiency is one of my top values and working smarter means maximizing your time.

But at a deeper level punctuality is about respect.

If time is the most valuable currency, being late means you’re wasting someone else’s time.

It’s time you can’t get back.

My roots were planted by my mom who is extremely reliable. When I was a kid if I asked her to do something and she committed to it, it would get done. It’s had a huge influence on my personality.

In the workplace punctuality is part of your reputation. When you’re late people notice. In fact I’d argue it’s a sign of integrity.

If a meeting starts at 8 AM and you’re late, it’s a slap in the face to the host.

Nobody’s perfect so an occasional slip up is fine, but habitual offenders become labeled.

Even since I joined the corporate world, I’ve continued to network online (LinkedIn), via phone and in-person on my lunch breaks. It’s more than a goal, it’s part of my lifestyle. The worst way to ruin a first impression is to show up late. I do my best to be early or on time.

So what if you lack punctuality?

You have a choice: talk about it or be about it.

Words are cheap. Actions are what matters. Don’t tell me, show me.

Most people believe being busy is a badge of honor. I disagree.

The more successful you become, the more in control of your time you should be.

Value your time by meeting with less people.

Value others’ time by showing up on time.

Valuing time means respecting others’.

OED: Obsessive Efficiency Disorder

work smarter

I admit I’m obsessed with efficiency. To me it’s about working smarter, not harder. Planning my week out ahead of time means I can maximize my time the way I want. Since time is equal to all, I just want to make sure I’m optimizing mine.

For those of you who can’t relate because you feel disorganized, here’s some practical tips to control your schedule:

1) Use your Smartphone Calendar Daily. iPhone users have the luxury of syncing everything (as long as you have Apple products) so once you devices are connected, you have no excuse to forget dates, run errands and pay bills with alerts and reminders. There are three color coded categories preset: work, home and social/out. I encourage you to put everything you do in your phone. That includes meetings, when to exercise, follow-up emails, paying bills, projects, etc. Putting events in your phone means you don’t have to remember them. It’s like working on auto-pilot. Our brains aren’t meant to multitask (no matter what you’ve heard before), therefore make it easier on your brain by setting alerts.

2) Network Spreadsheet. Relationships are your greatest asset. Remember that. It doesn’t matter how career-driven or lazy you are, you need people. One thing that has helped me tremendously is tracking my contacts. I use Numbers (Apple’s version of Excel) to organize all the people I’ve met into different lists (similar to Twitter). In each category, I color code based on how I last contacted someone: black – email, blue – phone/Skype, green – in person, orange – text and red – need to get back to them. I also date it so I know how long ago since the last time we communicated. On top of that I use LinkedIn to write a note to myself about how we met and what we last talked about so I can pick up the conversation where we left off. Also take into consider prioritizing. I go from left to right. On the left side are people I need to keep in touch with so the frequency is more. Towards the right are people I just met so it’s not as frequent, but if our relationship grows they move “left” on the spreadsheet. You don’t have to use a system like this, but its just an example of how I organize my network.

3) Leave Gaps. As someone who’s goal-oriented, I like to achieve. The worst thing I can do is pack my schedule too tight where I get behind early and can’t finish what I intend to accomplish. Let’s say you have a coffee meeting that is supposed to last 30 minutes. Factor in the commute, extra time to talk, one of you being late, etc. and I’m sure the time slot allotted will be much higher. It takes some experimentation, but in the end you can estimate pretty accurately over time. We live in a world where everyone is in a rush, so why not go against the grain? I’m not saying be slow, but give yourself extra time to get stuff done. Back to the whole multitasking concept, give yourself a break between tasks to rest. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to make mistakes. On a personal note when I planned the majority of my wedding, I put this idea of “leaving gaps” into action. As I worked in tandem with our wedding coordinator, I created a schedule for everyone involved (imagine getting separate timelines from the groom). The result: our family and friends said we were the most relaxed couple they’ve ever seen get married. That’s because the planning and preparation were done ahead so once it was showtime, we had nothing to be worried about.

You can tell by these examples that efficiency matters to me. It’s what I pride myself on and the standard I hold others to. I realize everyone doesn’t think the same as me and that’s fine. But if any of these tips can help you become more efficient, this post was worth writing. So have fun working smarter, not harder!

Scott Asai is a speaker/coach that has been developing leaders for 20+ years – athletes, companies and individuals. His focus is helping people develop leadership skills to advance in their careers. Scott tends to attract a large audience of Millennials and Introverts to his programs/events. His professional background consists of: B.A. in Psychology, M.A. in Organizational Leadership, Certified Professional Coach and Certified Strengths Coach.