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Weed out your Business and Increase Productivity!

 Increase Business Productivity by Weeding!


While most economists agree that the worst of the recession is now over, many small businesses are still reeling from its effects. If you have been fortunate to survive the latest downturn, your business’ productivity may still not be where you would like it to be. Ready or not, change has come to the business world and to be ready for the pending upswing of business, it is time to start weeding out the unnecessary things.

Find the Weeds to Pull

You may already realize that your overhead is too high or that expenses are reaching well above your income level. To help bring these expenses down, a little pulling of the weeds may be needed. Just like with your garden, the biggest problem with weeding your business is determining what is a weed and what is a flower. To help you with this, start asking yourself “What if your business went without …..?”. You can fill in the blank with any number of things in your business like, supplies, vendors, supplies and employees.

The most difficult one of these issues to deal with is employees because no one likes to eliminate jobs but sometimes it is necessary. New technology has allowed employers to get more work done with less employees. For example, new applicant tracking software can cut down the workload by creating an efficient method for recruiting and hiring new employees. This helps businesses hire the right people without needing the large amount of staff hours.

Grass Can Grow, Once the Weeds are Gone

If you do not take care of your grass properly, the weeds can choke the grass and take over your lawn. This can be true for your business too, if you do not take care of it properly. Holding on to unnecessary things will only crowd out your business, tie up resources and prevent your business from growing. A business, whose weeds have been pulled, is able to grow and flourish as it should.

No one likes to weed, but once it is done it provides a beautiful lawn. This process of eliminating things, especially jobs is difficult but necessary if you want your business to succeed. Take your time to ensure that you pull out only weeds and leave the grass behind because once it is completed your business can be even more successful. In just a short time, the economy will be on its way back up and if you want your business to be ready, now is the time to start pulling the weeds.


Another aspect of increased productivity in your business is considering cloud storage. Up Next: “Is iCloud any Different than MobileME?”
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Another 7 ways to increase meeting productivity.

It’s common knowledge that meetings are costly. Time is valuable and assembling a large group in one place is expensive by any definition. The financial impact of upsetting the workday rhythm is even costlier, and small businesses are hit hardest.

Some people are at their most productive at the beginning of the day, greeting the morning’s tasks with immediate energy. Others (myself included) may need about an hour of preparation before they’re ready to get moving. When a meeting begins, however, personal wants and needs fall by the wayside. Meetings force us to relinquish one of the basic components of any creative task: autonomy.

There’s no way to do away with meetings altogether. Admittedly, a meeting’s benefits sometimes outweigh its drawbacks. There’s no question, however, that a more intelligent approach is possible.

Let’s look at some ideas for meeting effectively picked up from highly productive workplace teams:

  • Steer Clear of “Informational Meetings”: If a meeting ends without action steps, then the meeting’s necessity – especially if it’s a regularly scheduled event — requires questioning. A group gathering simply to update information is better handled via voice-mail or e-mail.
  • Kick the Monday Meeting Habit: Meeting just because it’s Monday is a purely nonsensical practice. It’s time better spent tackling that overstuffed inbox. Almost always, regularly set meetings turn into “posting” sessions.
  • Conclude with a Rundown of Captured Action Steps: As every meeting wraps up, do a quick check of the “action steps” captured by each employee. The practice takes less than half-a-minute per attendee and will almost always uncover several neglected action items, as well as fostering a greater awareness of accountability. Once announced to the room, effectively completing an action step is much more likely.
  • Classify All Meetings as “Standing”: A smart idea I saw in some groups was the idea of a “standing meeting” – literally. In these, employees would remain standing throughout, removing the relaxation element which fills “sitting” meetings with unnecessary repetition and commentating instead of content-creating. Standing meetings are more action-oriented; people get to the point more quickly when they’re feeling weak in the knees.
  • The former chief of MTV Digital Media and current MySpace Music topper, Courtney Holt, swears by standing meetings’ positive effect on his employees. “I try to make every meeting – especially those that are called last-minute – a standing meeting, ideally each meeting finishes as quickly as it can.”
  • Most last-minute meetings, usually to quickly get the team up to speed or handle a problem situation, can take place in under 10 minutes.
  • Clarify Every Meeting’s Purpose at its Start: Brittany Ancell, chief of operations for Behance, advises beginning all meetings with a basic question: “Why are we here, and what are we supposed to accomplish?” As she elaborates, “Laying out the objective and setting the meeting’s tone is one of the leader’s key responsibilities.”
  • Reestablish Transit Time: Accounting for travel time between meetings of 10 or 15 minutes helps substantially lower anxiety. In the Harvard Business Review, David Silverman, a business writing instructor and entrepreneur, effectively argues that, as grade-schoolers, we knew the school bell signified 15 minutes until our next period. “Why is it,” he wonders, “that when we graduate, they take away our bells, replace them with an irritating ‘doink’ sound signaling ‘5 minutes until your next meeting’ and assume we can now teleport to the location of same? What could cause such madness? In two words: Microsoft Outlook.” It appears that the basic philosophy of corporate time-keeping has stolen that much-needed sanity-preserver – travel time – from daily schedules. For a return to sanity, Silverman proposes scheduling hour-long meetings but limiting them to no longer than 50 minutes.
  • Schedule Unavoidable Meetings for 3:00 PM, Tuesday: In a Lifehacker article, online scheduling service “When is Good” reported that, upon studying more than 100,000 replies to 34,000 invites on their site, they concluded that the time with the most “availability” for participants was 3:00PM on Tuesday. The results imply that there are probably specific times of day (and days of the week) which are the most convenient for all involved, in spite of personal work-flow differences. It’s far from a scientific conclusion, but it’s a result worth noting.

Respected employers acknowledge that determining a meeting’s worth is important. While researching for my blog, I noticed that the highest-achieving teams and bosses were, more often than not, inclined to view most potential meetings with a healthy helping of skepticism. The tips outlined above offer an easy way to protect your small business from the resource-wasting and time-consuming danger of unnecessary meetings.

Up Next: “Getting the Most out of Conferences”

A.D.D.: Assess Decide Do, A New Life Management System

A.D.D. : Assess Decide Do – A New Life Management System

a.d.d.Everyone likes to feel as if they have a great method for getting things done. But face it, there isn’t one right way to be productive. I recently came across a new method for keeping myself on track – A.D.D. (or Assess Decide Do). This life management system is the framework that I have come to live by. It’s easy to remember and it’s a basic guide to my entire life. It’s not a step by step process, not a computer program, not a to-do list. It is simply the guideline by which I live and work.

This system, which I’ve used now for several months, has made me conscious of the three steps, and which one I am currently using. I am, at any given moment, either assessing, deciding, or doing. Sounds pretty simple, right? It is. I am simply assessing my options, deciding on what I need or want to do, and then actually carrying out my decision. No matter what I am doing in life, I am always in one of these three stages. Now you might ask, no matter what? Think about it, you are always in some mode of thought or action (unless you are sleeping, which now that I think of it, is the doing stage).

These stages are in a delicate balanced cycle. If this balance is upset, then my life is not going as smoothly as it should. For example, if I stay too long assessing my options, I may not stay as focused as I should. If I take too long or too short to decide, I may not pick the right option and then change the outcome. If I take too long or too short doing, I could negate all of my earlier planning.

A.D.D., like any life management system, needs to have two clear goals: to identify which stage you are in, and to make a smooth transition between stages. And although this plan sounds incredibly easy, it actually takes some discipline and practice to keep the balance equal between stages. To understand this better, I will briefly discuss each stage and its function.


Before I implemented A.D.D., I felt like if I had a list, I had to add everything on it. That’s what a list is for, right? Sort of. I have found that I need to assess all the options out there for me, and interpret all the data around me to keep this stage in balance with the rest. There are many things that need to be assessed: personal values, short or long-term benefits, opportunity, availability, possible bad outcomes, etc. The list goes on and on. While all of these things are going around in my mind, I am in the assessment stage.

Where does it all end? At the point where I can’t add any more information it is time to move on to the decision stage.


This stage could not be any more clear-cut for me. There are only just two ways it could go: yes or no (or do it or don’t do it). I move on to the Doing stage if I have decided to do it. If I have decided not to do it, I get rid of it. In order to get rid of something, I decide if I will want to re-assess it later, or just trash the idea altogether. Either way, it is gone from my immediate future.

Sometimes I find that I have enough information to make my decisions, but I hold out for weeks or months to actually decide. This is especially true for really big life decisions. For the most part, though, I make my decisions quickly so I can move on to the next stage.


Now is the time that I drag out my to-do list. I have already made sure it was worthy of doing, and now all I have to do is to put it on the list and schedule it, and then finally, do it. Once I’ve finished the task or project, I go right back to assessing, which closes the circle and starts the cycle over again. I find that when I successfully go through all of these stages, I am more balanced as a person, and I actually feel better about myself.

Potential Problems

Like many things in life, this life management program has a few pitfalls to watch out for. One common imbalance is the over crunching stage. If I stay too long in assessing, I find myself crunching the data over and over, never moving on to the next stage. Not all the information is always useful. I keep hoping that the data I am gathering will be useful to me in some way later on. Avoid this at all costs to avoid an imbalance! When I find that I am over-analyzing, I know I need to step away from the information I am assessing and give it a reality check.

Another problem I ran into was that I would make a decision that I wanted to do something, but never took the steps to get there. “I want a new car.” Great goal, but from there what did I do, nothing! I have to make sure that I move from this decision stage to the actual doing stage. It could be a fear of failure, embarrassment, or some other excuse. I have to see those excuses for what they are and just do it!

I am a bit compulsive about getting things off of my list. I think I may be addicted to the feeling I get when I cross something out. I found that this desire to get things done stood in the way of me making accurate assessments and proper decisions. Once I learned to slow down and go through all the steps, I was able to avoid this junkie-like syndrome, and in the end, my to-do items were more important and meaningful.

Has this framework helped me? Absolutely. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with all of my options, I feel now like there is a clear path to actually making a decision and getting things done. I feel less flustered, and my to-do list no longer reads like a laundry list of all things wrong in the world. I am more productive, and more importantly, I feel better about what I am doing.

A.D.D. is an excellent tool for yourself but what if you are collaborating with others? Yammer, a social collaboration tool for communication on projects versus using email lists.

A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D. A.D.D.

20 Tips for Employee Retention

Tips for Employee Retention & Increasing Productivity

The task of employee retention is one of the many problems that people face as business owners and managers. If you are good to your employees, you will find yourself having a stronger business than your competitors. The health care industry, for example, loses 1 out of every 5 employees each year. Allowing for your employees to leave your company is not only a financial burden, but it hurts the morale of the remaining workers you are leading.

Financially, losing an employee does not work out to one’s benefit. There are a few costs associated with employee loss that most management does not think about. The first unexpected cost is the cost of the company while there isn’t a person in that position. Assuming that this was a necessary position, it is going to cost cash if there is no one there to operate it. In some cases the other employees will need to be paid overtime. Secondly, there is the cost of advertising for the replacement. Assuming that this isn’t a ‘help wanted sign in the window’ type of job, money will have to be invested to find a new worker. Finally, there is the cost of training your new worker. Training is not typically a cheap endeavor. These, along with some miscellaneous other costs, are all things that can be avoided if the originally hired employees are retained.

Even with the twenty tips for employee retention highlighted below, there are some circumstances that are not avoidable. Occasionally the retention of your employee is out of your control. It may be a life emergency, or a planned change, but whatever the reason you need to accept that some things cannot be changed. However, for the situations that you have control over, here are a twenty tips on how to keep the employees you hired.

  • People need reliable equipment– It’s nearly impossible to work to your full potential if you have to constantly worry about the computer you are working on crashing, or the air conditioner in the office going out. As a manager it is your duty to make sure that your employees have the necessary supplies to get their jobs done.
  • An orientation program is a must-Making sure that your staff is familiar with the different departments is something that is often overlooked. Assign your newbie a mentor that they will feel comfortable with. Starting your employee out knowing the basics will ensure that they will not be blindsided by something in the future.
  • Promote knowledge in the workplace-Always allow for an opportunity to learn. There are many programs that someone can take to better their knowledge on a specific subject. Encourage your employees to broaden their skills, and make such programs an option for them.
  • Keep the tasks fresh-Make sure that your employee knows that they are needed in more than one area. Assign them tasks that differ from their mundane daily assignments.
  • Allow for some down time-Even though your main priority is work, it’s important to remember that you need to make room for some fun. Allow for office birthday or holiday parties. Keeping the spirits up in your office will benefit you in the long run.
  • Encourage teamwork– Encouraging teamwork will not only increase your productivity, but it will create a better working atmosphere. A great way to do this is to involve your employees in the office decision making process.
  • Assign someone the job– Make it someone’s job to keep that turnover rate low. When you have someone paying specific attention to it, it is easier to find where the underlying problems are.
  • Allow for promotions– Having advancement opportunities will ensure that your employees will have something to work for. Not all people are motivated by money, some need the incentive of a promotion to put in 100%.
  • Make sure your frontline workers are well trained– If the people who are watching over the employees don’t have effective management skills bad things may arise. By making sure that your management team is well-trained you will be able to avoid unnecessary issues.
  • Do not be stingy– If your pay is not competitive, then there is always the chance your employees will leave to find a company who compensates correctly. Be sure to know what the going rate for the business you are in is.
  • Don’t forget about benefits– You won’t always be able to out pay your competitors, but you can tack on some nice benefits to the job. Benefits are almost always looked at by employees, and they make a job seem much more doable.
  • Don’t be vague– If you start out by clearly identifying responsibilities you will not leave much room for error. Setting out the roles and duties will help them to know what is expected of them.
  • Offer bonuses– Most companies offer a sign on bonus, however offering a retention bonus is a bit wiser. Offer bonuses for 5,10, and 15 years!
  • Ask your employees– By conducting employee satisfaction surveys you will be able to see how they feel about the company. Sometimes it’s even better to make the surveys anonymous.
  • Promote efficiency– Try not to have your employees spending their days filling out needless paperwork. While some paperwork is necessary, filling out paperwork that is tedious and mindless will enable your workers to lose motivation.
  • Mission statements are your friends-Writing down a small statement of goals for your employees will allow them to see the bigger picture. Having a mission statement encourages teamwork and efficiency.
  • Be open– Employees like to know what is going on with their company. By having some of the companies issues out on the table the employees will feel as if they are a part of a team.
  • Flexibility is appreciated– So often employers think that their issues are more important than the ones of their staff. As a manager you need to remember that emergencies do happen, and you need to be flexible when they arise.
  • Get help when needed– Hiring assistants and aides to help your employees get their work done is not a bad idea. If an employee can get a little assistance they are less likely to get overwhelmed.
  • Show your appreciation– Working in an atmosphere where you feel appreciated is typically on the top of most job seekers lists. That is why it is imperative to always show your employees how much they are valued. You can do this by bonuses, incentives, or even a simple thank you card.

Employee retention & productivity increases can benefit with this new management system “A.D.D: Assess Decide Do, A New Life Management System”

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