So you’re back to work after the holidays and your inbox is overflowing, you’re not sure where to start or what your co-workers have already taken care of. Worse yet, this is all a repeat of last year’s routine. There simply has to be a more productive way to get work done. How about starting the year off with a few fresh ideas on how to accomplish that.
Meet Laurie, Operations Manager at QuantumPM, Productivity Specialists focused on balancing processes and technology. Here are some suggestions for kick starting your new year: It has been another crazy year and it’s time to get organized and focused on the new one. There is a lot of cleaning up to do – sorting, tossing, organizing and all the other things we all do at this time of the year. But, I don’t want to just de-clutter my “stuff”, I also want to focus on ways I can simplify my work and personal life so I can be more productive and still have time to enjoy the things I love. There are many ways to approach this; here are some of my top strategies for getting it done. It’s time for a fresh start so let’s get going!
- Clarify what you’re doing and why. Are your goals for the year clear? Do you know your part in the bigger picture and how you can make an impact on your job and the organization? If yes, congratulations! Now write it down and review it periodically to stay on track. If not, now would be a good time to have a discussion with your boss and teammates to clarify those goals. Once defined, break them into actionable steps and communicate them with your teammates so everyone has the same vision. Focusing an organization to move in the same direction, with the same goals, takes effort. But if you communicate clearly and help people understand their place in the plan, you may actually get there!
- Review company processes and figure out what’s working and what’s not. If it’s working, leave it alone. But if there are issues with processes and people seem confused or don’t follow them, it’s probably time to re-evaluate and refresh them. It’s a huge waste of time and energy to keep doing the same thing, in the same way, just because it’s always been done that way. There are new, simpler tools out there that can help with this and save time and money. See item 4 below for some ideas on that. Take time now to rethink common processes and how you can make them work better. It’s a great feeling to know you and your team are heading in the same direction and that you will be arriving there in the simplest way possible. Solid, simple processes can make that a reality.
- Look ahead at what’s coming to help avoid problems. What does the year ahead hold for you or your company? None of us have crystal balls but we can anticipate things on the horizon that could affect our workload. Don’t wait to the last minute. Evaluate upcoming issues now and set up some preliminary plans on how to address them. It might be a new customer, a teammate going on leave, or a company certification that needs to be completed. Whatever it is, analyze the potential impacts and work with your teammates to identify how you can mitigate the situation. Planning ahead is a great way to relieve stress and save time!
- Re-evaluate your tools. Technology and the tools we use to get work done is ever evolving. Current cloud technology provides new ways to get work done anyplace – at your office or on the go. Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud solution, can help you collaborate with co-workers, family or friends safely and securely from virtually anywhere using your laptop, tablet or cell phone. And, Office 365 includes tools that everybody already knows which makes it an easy transition. You no longer have to worry about getting the latest updates to stay on top of things because you get them automatically. So, if you’re still using last year’s technology, now is a good time to start investigating the many cloud options available to you so you can get work done faster and more efficiently.
The common threads in all of these strategies is to communicate and work closely with your team. There’s no need to work in a bubble with the new work strategies available. We each have our own unique perspectives and when we are able to collaborate and bring those perspectives together, a lot of valuable ideas and solutions can be realized. Make this a year where you become more productive and stay ahead of the game!
For a different perspective increasing your productivity in the new year meet Rose, CEO and Founding Partner of QuantumPM.
As I reflect on the past year, I am amazed at how much has changed for our company. We launched a new product and helped our customers implement their plans for moving to the cloud, integrating systems, and adopting technologies to streamline their project management and operational work. It was a good year for us and I am very proud of our team and what they accomplished, especially in this dynamic business environment of cloud technology and the “internet of things”.
As a project management technology company, we saw the line between managing projects and managing operations get very blurry. Projects are on a fast track and use agile methodologies. People use a variety of devices and software systems to accomplish their goals. They communicate with teammates across the globe 24 x 7 and they need to share data and business intelligence across system boundaries in real time. No one has time to wait for reports or defer decisions until more information is available.
The business world is moving faster than most of us could have imagined so we know that we cannot sit back and watch. With that in mind, our company’s goals for 2016 are focused on productivity so we can help our customers do the same. This means we need to learn more and accomplish more without losing our balance and perspective. Since QuantumPM has its roots firmly in the field of project management, we plan to use that discipline to help us meet our 2016 goals. Technology is changing and if we are going to be productive, we have to be even better at communications. Here’s how we plan to do that, maybe it will help you as well:
- Talk about your plans – People are often much more receptive to hearing about changes at the beginning of a new year. Regardless of your role, take this opportunity at the start of the year to let people know what’s happening. A very wise person once told me that major changes need to be communicated seven times in seven different ways. The bottom line is that all of us are very busy and messages can easily be missed, ignored, or misinterpreted. So start talking about your plans now and then keep sharing information! Communication needs to be interesting, engaging, and delivered in a variety of ways so that it is actually heard and understood as intended. Take advantage of the New Year as one more reason to let people know what’s going on.
- Clarify your goals – The beginning of a new year is a great time to refresh this message. People have been enjoying the holidays and they probably haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about work. When you communicate, make sure that the message you send is crystal clear: what’s in scope, what’s not in scope, and what’s changed.
- Clarify roles – It’s a new year, is it time to organize a bit differently? Often the start of a year brings new budgets, changes in roles, and other opportunities for a fresh start. Take a look at your team with a critical eye. Is it time to organize things in a new way? Do you have the right skill sets working in the right roles? Is there a way to change things up and possibly be more effective?
- Make the most of every day – Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions for your work efforts? Perhaps it is time to start some new habits. For example, agile projects often start each day with a quick meeting to discuss each person’s plan for the day and make sure everyone is on target. Would that work for your team? If not, is there something else that would?
- Manage conflict – The beginning of a year is a great time to make sure that any disagreements or serious conflicts have been resolved. People really are more receptive to change at this time of you so take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t let it slip away!
To simplify the way you work, take a fresh look at your projects, communication techniques and operational work. The beginning of a year is a perfect time to start fresh. The changes don’t need to be big to have a big impact.