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Think back to the last time you started a new job. In the first few days and weeks, you probably only knew the people who hired you and your team members. And, being new, you were especially eager to make a good impression. As a result, you put your head down and worked diligently and efficiently.
Fast-forward a few months and things had changed. You got friendly with your coworkers and settled into the rhythm of the office. But you also found it harder to maintain the level of productivity you enjoyed in your early days at the company.
Once you get comfortable in a role, it’s easy to fall victim to productivity killers. Here are some common culprits and how to avoid them.
Open laptops and phones at meetings
The great thing about laptops and mobile phones is that they allow us to be connected at all times. The terrible thing about laptops and mobile phones is that they enable us to be distracted at all times.
Boost engagement at meetings by asking everyone to close their laptops and set their phones screen-down. This makes for more productive and (bonus!) shorter meetings.
Poorly timed breaks
There’s no question that taking breaks during the workday provides a healthy physical and mental release. The problem is in the timing of those breaks. For example, if your coworker drops by and asks you to grab coffee but you’re in the middle of a project, stepping away disrupts your flow and drags out the whole process.
Instead, set goals for yourself and don’t get up until you achieve them. Then, once you hit those goals and reach a natural stopping point, reward yourself with a walk or snack break.
Sitting at a desk
When you’re surrounded by chatty coworkers, it’s easy to get sucked into a conversation or distracted by people talking around you. So, if you have a laptop, try working in different areas of the office, like the kitchen, common areas, or empty conference rooms.
Sitting in a different spot can also give you a new perspective, which can be unexpectedly invigorating. If moving around the office isn’t an option, invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Workdays with no firm end time
If you feel like you’re working longer days while getting fewer things accomplished, it’s time to enact some self-imposed deadlines. Try things like planning a dinner with friends or scheduling a workout class at a studio that charges a fee if you cancel at the last minute. When you want to avoid disappointing a friend or paying late fees, you’re more likely to buckle down and leave on time.
Meetings that are too long and too frequent
Consider how a typical meeting goes at your office. Are the first 10 minutes spent chatting while someone tries to project their laptop on a screen? Are you still discussing things that you should have resolved last time? Start experimenting with alternatives to speed things up and make them more effective, like standup meetings. And, instead of having multiple weekday meetings, try rolling them up into one gathering with a longer, more focused agenda.
Calculating time cards and payroll
Keeping track of your employees’ hours and making sure they get paid on schedule can be a huge time suck, especially if your scheduling and payment systems aren’t linked up. An automated system like Square Payroll enables you to onboard new employees with tax forms, and it files your state and federal taxes. Also, if you have hourly and salaried employees, you can easily pay both (plus the hourly employees can clock in and out on your Square Point of Sale app).
Information stored in disparate systems
When your sales, inventory, and employee performance data exist in programs that aren’t interoperable, your life is all spreadsheets, all the time. If you’re constantly just trying to keep up with administrative work, you have no time to grow your business, work with clients, or enjoy the parts that prompted you to get started in the first place.
Instead, opt for one business solution, like Square Dashboard, that consolidates all your reports and information in one place and generates free reports so that you can track progress.