This post was originally published on my personal blog.
Agency staff and owners often feel overwhelmed with their workload and not seldomly have to resort to working overtime in order to keep their task list at bay.
After many years of working 60+ hours per week, not only as a business owner but also as an employee in various agencies prior to starting my own company, I’ve come up with a few productivity hacks that will ensure that’ll you get your life back. At Serps we managed to reduce our overtime worked by 95%. Crazy, right? Then read on…
Avoid the early morning email & social media trap
This is a difficult one to overcome, as for many people this is part of their daily routine, after getting a coffee, check emails, then social media channels, then start the first task of the day. Many productivity gurus urge to use the morning to get on with your most important tasks, rather than to carry out tasks that don’t require a lot of brain power when you are still fresh.
Solution: Usually I would recommend to only check your email very briefly to see whether there is anything urgent, other than that wait to process your email and respond to people until later on. We give our clients a 3 hour turnaround time for email responses and I urge Serps staff to only check their email every couple of hours, so they get less disruption. You will need to educate your client well. If you always did answer every email immediately, you will have to explain to your client why there is going to be a change. Ensure that you are still available by phone for any emergencies. Also company social media channels should only be checked at set intervals in order to avoid further disruption unless you are working on social for a client.
Reduce meetings & be prepared for meetings
This is not uncommon but the more projects you are involved in, the more internal meetings you end up being part of. This is a challenge that can only be combated by being ruthless.
Solution: Really evaluate whether you need to be in all the meetings that you get invited to. Make sure that everyone who does come to the meeting is well prepared and has read all materials in advance. Ensure that there is an agenda or that you are all on the same page as to what the outcome of the meeting should be. The meeting organiser should also tell people off for digressing to unrelated topics. You can also schedule lunch meetings and provide food for staff or even take the meeting outwith your office. You will often be much more productive and more creative in a new environment.
Schedule regular catch up times
Have you ever been in the situation that you were completely in the “zone” and you were getting through your task swimmingly. Suddenly a colleague stops in front of your desk, asking you about a fairly unimportant piece of information, without urgency, but you feel compelled to stop what you’re doing and help her or him out? Then they walk off and you’re left trying to get back into your “zone”, which now seems to be the most difficult task on earth and it takes you quite a lot of effort to get back into it? Sound familiar? Yes, of course, we all have been in that situation more often than we like to.
Solution: Here at Serps we introduced regular catch up times, which take place 3 times per day. During those catch up times, which are scheduled in in 15 minute slots in the morning, after lunch and in the late afternoon, all staff members are able to approach their fellow colleagues to discuss and clarify anything they need to. This has proven really effective for us. Usually we also schedule any other internal meetings that need to take place as closely to our catch up times, to ensure the least possible disruption on a person’s day.
Are you struggling at your agency and find that everyone is working too much overtime? Most likely it’s related to inefficient processes, which can be easily combated. Want to chat about productivity issues at your agency? Why not get in touch?
Image by Breather