THE BLOG

6 Top Productivity Trends for Business Owners

05/16/2015 03:40 am ET | Updated May 15, 2016

This is part of the Increased Productivity series where tips on productivity, brain training, and business success are shared.

If you're a business owner, you know that productivity is one of the keys to making your business grow. If you're not running a productive business, chances are you're running your business into the ground. Every day there are new products or processes that can help you and your business become more productive.

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Image Credit: Flickr, Creative Commons: Dennis Hamilton

Here are 6 trends we're seeing right now that are kicking productivity up a notch:

  1. Noise
  2. We all know that social media can sap productivity - you get to checking Facebook or Instagram, and the next thing you know, 30 minutes have passed. And that's 30 minutes you'll never get back. But you probably aren't aware that you're completely surrounded by a productivity thief - noise! Every workspace will have noise because working inevitably will cause some sort of sound, but it's the type of sound that can really make a difference.

    A survey revealed nearly 30% of office workers are distracted by coworkers' conversations. Men were more impacted than women, with one in three men saying they were distracted by noise at work, compared to one in four women. So should we completely ban workplace conversations? No. The solution is to drown out any intelligible noises, so listening to music without any lyrics can help you remained focused and productive.

  3. Motivators

  4. Employees these days are often motivated by their own bottom line, or the size of their paycheck. Since about 2002, employees have expected to receive extras for any "extra" duties or effort. Although you can't put a price on some motivators, like a special parking spot, an award, providing lunch, or holiday parties, employees feel unappreciated at the absence of these things, and productivity may decrease if you're not providing these motivators. Other motivators, economic ones, can include year-end bonuses and pay-for-performance incentives.

    Michael Cullinan, Director of Rapid Finance says that his car financiers quickly exceeded expectations following a unique gold class movie KPI. Michael added that SMB owners should beware that similar incentives will quickly become employee expectations if they are not associated with clear KPI's.

  5. Calendars as a to-do list

  6. Instead of making a list that you use to check things off once they've been completed, use a calendar to assign a place and a time to your duties. By doing this, you're holding yourself accountable to getting a specific task finished by a specific time. You can also use an app, like Apple Reminders, to alert you to tasks. Encouraging those who work in your business to do the same will give a boost to productivity.

  7. Take charge of your inbox

  8. It's likely that a good portion of your workday is spent reading and managing the email in your inbox. It's not a productive process, but essential to keeping your business running. you can start by using an app, like Unroll.me, that removes you from all of those pesky email lists. Creating an email template is another way to be more productive when dealing with your email. It may also be a good idea to have a standard backup email you can send for different situations. By doing this, you can save time and work faster at answering those emails.

  9. Minimize outside distractions

  10. We've already talked about noise and how it kills productivity, but what about all of those other things rolling around in our heads that keep us worrying and thinking about them all day long? Perhaps you have a lot of errands you need to run after work, your lawn needs aerating, bills are piling up on the kitchen counter. Take a minute or two each day before beginning work to give these things some thought and a plan of action. By giving these distractions dedicated time while you are not working, they won't bother you as much when you are.

  11. Work faster
  12. Who says quantity can't be quality? Getting more done in a shorter amount of time is always a worthy goal, and learning shortcuts can make that happen. If you use Excel a lot of business, take a class and learn the shortcuts, and how they can make your job easier. Our computers can slow us down, not allowing us to work as fast as we'd like to. Clear up your hard drive and increase the speed of your computer by using a cloud-based file storage and backup service, like Dropbox.