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Four Ways to Make Your Business Trips More Productive

Four Ways to Make Your Business Trips More Productive by Laura Stack #ProductivityAs long as there have been business travelers, we’ve struggled to make our travel time more productive. At one time this involved little more than reading and annotating paperwork, so little could be done while on the move. A bit more was possible with access to a telephone in a hotel, but not much more.

The electronics revolution changed all that. With smartphones, laptops, and WiFi, there’s no excuse not to be productive while on the go. That said, you can tweak your productivity higher with a few logical preparations before you even step out the door. Try these tips:

1. Prepare well in advance. When you return from a trip, prepare for the next. Unpack your back and refill toiletries as necessary. Reorganize your spare cables for your electronics and recharge as necessary. Pack a spare outfit, and leave your luggage in an easily accessible place where you can add additional items as they occur to you. Hang the components of your outfits together in your closet with matching shoes below, so they’re easy to grab and go.

2. Let someone else drive. Rather than deal with traffic, parking, and car rental, hire car services to take you to the airport in your home city and then to the hotel and business locale at your destination. That way, you can work on the way to the airport and hotel and back.

3. Sign up for pre-check and loyalty programs. Many large airports now offer TSA Pre√ lines that allow frequent travelers to pass through quickly, though some travelers prefer the CLEAR (https://www.clearme.com/) system if available in your main airports. Either can cut your wait time in half. Meanwhile, take advantage of loyalty plans offered by your favorite airline for free upgrades, separate check-in lines, and priority boarding. Given the amount of work you’ll achieve as a result, they’re definitely worth always flying the same airline.

4. Put a bow on it. Always finish one trip before starting the next. As soon as you arrive home, file paperwork, invoice your client, clean out your briefcase, file receipts, enter business card information, and conduct any follow-up as promised.

While technology has opened the door for greater travel productivity, you still have to prop open that door with common-sense, thoughtful approaches to time management. Implement the tips I’ve outlined here, and you’ll save even more time you can then spend on what really matters to you when you return from your travels.

Guest Post: Forget Perfection – Strive For Optimization

Everything you do in your business is a process. From customer service to sales and marketing. Being successful in business is all about optimizing these processes as much as possible.

Optimization is such an important area of business, but this critical area is often overlooked by business owners and CEOs amidst cries of “I’m too busy!” or “I don’t have the time right now—I’ll get to it eventually…”

Inevitably, some of those people never find the time and they simply continue along their trajectory, completely oblivious to the fact that they could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table.

But the concept of optimization is simple:

“Maximum results for the time with the minimum risk, the minimum effort and the minimum expense.” – Jay Abraham.

Optimization just means that you are utilizing all of your resources, to the maximum efficiency. Imagine if you could double or triple the effectiveness of your sales process to bring in more customers, or quadruple the effectiveness of your customer service processes to improve customer satisfaction and retain customers 400% longer! Don’t you think that would have an amazing impact on your business? Or on your life and on the life of the people who work for you, not to mention your customers?

Of course it would. But here’s the thing, optimization isn’t something you can just jump into and there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before you can start experimenting:

1. Documenting – What exactly are your processes? Do you know everything your employees are doing for you? Do you have a set process to follow for each area of your business?

If not, document it. Ask your employees or team managers to agree and construct concrete processes for every action in the business. Do this for the next month and by the end you will have a complete blueprint for the running of your business.

2. Tracking - In order to make improvements and to optimize a process, you need to track and measure everything. First define the metric that process is supposed to deliver, then track how changes to the process increase or decrease that metric.

For example, “having the team leader double check work for quality costs him two hours each day” but also, what are you getting in return for this additional check? How many bugs has this check found / fixed?

You should know what your return is on the investments you make in all areas of your business. Then you can move forwards and optimize.

3. Optimization – At this stage, you should know all the important processes in your business and what results you are currently receiving with the resources you have.

There are many ways to optimize your business, but one of the easiest ways is to simply test different ways of doing things then tracking and comparing the results against the results you had before.

Always remember that looking for external factors to help boost sales or customer satisfaction is not the only way to optimize your business and improve profits. Simply look internally and optimize everything you already have first. Strive to optimize constantly in all areas of your business.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” – Vince Lombardi

About the Author:
Vinay Patankar is the CEO of Process Street, a productivity tool for process driven teams. Find him on Twitter or his Blog. Process Street is 100% free to use for small teams and freelancers. Create a free account here: http://process.st

Employee Loyalty: How to Create and Maintain a Loyal Team

“I’ll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty.” —Samuel Goldwyn, American movie mogul.

Employee Loyalty: How to Create and Maintain a Loyal Team by Laura Stack #productivityTo paraphrase Forrest Gump, loyalty is as loyalty does. In recent years, some business leaders have bemoaned the death of old-fashioned employee loyalty, as workers realize that technology has freed them from some workplace restraints. Many have also decided they can get farther faster by jumping from one company to another, rather than by working their way through the hierarchy of one organization.

This is unfortunate, but it represents a natural evolution of the workplace. Conditions have changed drastically in the past several decades. Given global competition, the lingering Great Recession, and shareholder demands for greater value, most companies can no longer guarantee lifelong employment or provide traditional pensions. The loyalty guarantees workers once took for granted no longer exist…so it should come as no real surprise that many workers feel their leadership has no loyalty to them. In an environment like that, why should they feel loyal toward the company?

The New Paradigm

That said, employee loyalty need not be a thing of the past. No one really expects lifelong loyalty anymore, but you can certainly increase team loyalty to levels not seen for years if you’ll make just a few adjustments to the way you do business.

1. Treat your people with trust and respect. Your chief aim should be to make your team’s work easier, by clearing the way toward your organization and team goals. Respect your people by making those goals very clear, and show them you’re working as hard as they are. Don’t look down on your team members or dismiss their concerns, and give them the training and advice they need to do their jobs well. Shared respect has many routes, and you have to police them all.

2. Strive for consistency. Your people need to know they can predict your behavior, at least to some extent, and that you’ll treat everyone the same way no matter what. If they feel they can’t understand you, then how can they trust you? So when you make a promise, fulfill it. Follow through with your commitments. If a specific achievement earns someone an award, make sure everyone who captures that achievement gets the award. Display consistency with word and deed, and expect the same of your people. They will respect you for it.

3. Empower your workers. Give them the opportunity to own their jobs. If your team members can function without excess interference or overly-punitive responses to their mistakes, they’ll stay with you longer. Give them room to breathe, and let them take the initiative to improve their own output. They may surprise you by what they accomplish—and they’ll certainly find it easier to execute your strategy at a moment’s notice, especially if they don’t have to ask your permission first.

4. Lead. Your leadership position gives you the ability to shape other people’s lives by example. You can be sure your workers watch you constantly, so they’ll know if you ignore your own rules for working hours and leaving early. If you roll in half an hour late every day, spend two hours at lunch, and leave to play golf each Thursday promptly at two, you’ll lose their respect and worse, their loyalty. Leadership means more than just ordering people around; it means guidance, in everything from coaching to living up to your promises.

Looking Ahead

Accept the fact that business life has irrevocably changed due to technological and sociological evolution. No matter where you work or what you do, people will leave more regularly than you would like, and you’ll often be forced to bring new team members up to speed. Even innovative companies like Amazon and Google have surprisingly high turnover rates. You can’t hold onto people like your predecessors did decades ago, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. While money and position mean a great deal to employees, so do simple things like trust, compassion, respect, empowerment, good communications, and solid leadership.