The 21st century is bursting with extraordinary achievements. We discovered water on Mars, mapped the entire human genome, created robotic limbs and can now grow human organs from stem cells. All that said, we still haven’t figured out how to add a single hour to the proverbial day. This leaves us with only two options: we can either work harder or we can work smarter. It’s probably safe to assume that every one of us, given the choice, would choose the latter. Fortunately, there are countless ways to boost efficiency throughout the workday that serve both to reduce stress load and increase workday satisfaction.

1. Do away with unnecessary meetings
Did you know that, according to Atlassian, the average worker spends over 31 hours each month in meetings? Well they certainly have their place, before you schedule your next meeting it’s wise to consider if the same goal could be accomplished with a group email, a phone call or a virtual meeting. Unnecessary in-person meetings cut into productivity and can negatively impact team morale. If you decide an in-person meeting is necessary, opt for a standing meeting and increase engagement and efficiency.

2. Maintain clear goals
According to a 2015 Gallup survey, only half of employees know what is expected of them at work. Naturally then, the other 50% are floundering to varying degrees, wasting company time and resources. Clearly communicate what you expect of your employees when it comes to projects and daily tasks and they will repay you with productivity.

3. Invest in employee training and development
As far as intentionality is concerned, on-the-job training and enrichment education for your employees must be top priority. In much the same way that an athlete invests time and money into their training, investing in your employees by way of workshops, seminars or individual coaching will help to develop their on-the-job ‘muscles’, further increasing their passion and performance.

4. Utilize project management tools
Implementing tools such as Slack, Basecamp or our favorite – Asana – facilitates team communication, allows employers to assign and detail tasks and allows employees to track and update their progress. These project management tools cut down on the need for task clarification and conversations regarding project status.

5. Enact gamification
The Nestler Lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai tells us about the power of the reward center of the brain:

In simplistic terms, activation of the [mesolimbic dopamine system] pathway tells the individual to repeat what it just did to get that reward. It also tells the memory centers in the brain to pay particular attention to all features of that rewarding experience, so it can be repeated in the future.

Video game creators and casino designers understand this concept emphatically but employers can also benefit from gamification. Plan out a reward system for employees who complete a task ahead of schedule or under budget or who go above and beyond what’s required of them. This will motivate employees to strive for excellence and make the most of their time. Rewards can be anything from sending out a ‘thank you’ email and copying your boss on it to taking an exemplary employee out for lunch…from issuing “lazy Monday” coupons (which entitle your employee to a late Monday arrival) to extra PTO. Consider what motivates your employees and incentivize them accordingly.

6. Encourage telecommuting
Did you know that employees who work from home are 13% more productive, according to a study out of Stanford University? In a day and age where ‘work/life balance’ is a common battle cry, you have the opportunity to facilitate this for your employees while they return your gesture with their productivity. Between the stress of the morning and evening commutes, the inevitable sick-kid-home-from-school scenario and general workplace costs and distractions, telecommuting is a time, money and sanity-saving slam dunk.

7. Facilitate good time management
Even though the temptation is to barrel through tasks nose-to-the-grindstone, statistics tell us that encouraging employees to take regular breaks actually increases their productivity. The New York Times reports that employees who take a break every 90 minutes claim a 30% increase in focus and a 50% increase in creativity. Also, when we get up and get moving (go for a walk, hit the gym on a lunch break etc.), we increase blood flow and release endorphins which drive our energy and stamina.

8. Turn off notifications
Few things are more distracting than an incoming text (Look! A squirrel!), or a new email/voicemail/social media notification. Luckily, you maintain complete control over the notification settings on all of your devices. Turning off your notifications (and encouraging your employees to do the same) will keep you from having to reassimilate into that important task you were up to your elbows in just three minutes earlier.

9. Beautify your environment
Believe it or not, the aesthetics of your workplace environment go a long way towards increasing your efficiency – by up to 15%, in fact! (according to a February 2015 article on Inc.com) Take down those 80’s pastel watercolors with the fake brass frames and replace them with something timeless or contemporary and relaxing. Swap out the artificial, too-green-to-be-real plants for a few low-maintenance philodendron. Paint your stark white walls a soothing grey or cafe brown. Cosmetic updates require little cost and effort and can be the secret sauce to increasing overall workplace efficiency.

10. Embrace automation
Don’t be deceived. Small tasks are huge time-suckers – one small task here and one small task there and, while, you know that big project with the looming deadline? You might as well kiss that deadline goodbye. Additionally, while we want to think we’re fabulous multitaskers, the reality is that, according to Wrike, 40% of productivity is lost when it comes to switching between tasks. Why do what automation can do for you? Automate your social media campaigns, lead generationfollow-up emails…even client onboarding!

Wild Fig Marketing wants your business to succeed. If you want help increasing efficiency in your workplace, click here to schedule a free 15-minute strategy session!