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Social media is all about connection and networking, but it’s also distraction and procrastination in their finest, pixelated forms.

Help your team use social media productively with these tips.

Define the End Goals for Social Media Use

Who’s doing what, and why?

Social media professionals know that without clear goals, social media use becomes a chaotic mess of button-clicking and key-tapping. You have to know what you’re attempting in order to know if you’re getting close.

What are the end goals for social media in your business and for your team?

Define these and you are giving your team members a way to quickly determine if their use of social media is helping to reach those goals.

Discuss Limits for Social Media Use

Defining goals and assigning roles will help your team members know how to use social media in a productive way… that is, in a way that is helping them to reach those goals.

For some, social media use is great for a few minutes in the morning and in the afternoon, for a couple of status updates a day, for a distraction on break time or for those five-minute intervals in between meetings.

For others, social media may require more intensive time and input: a few hours crafting updates, researching analytics, finding or creating great content to share.

Discuss how the over-arching goals - and each person’s role in helping reach those goals - necessitate different limits on social media for each person. Then ask your team members to set their own limits, as appropriate.

Encourage Real Breaks

Taking regular breaks is actually great for productivity. But a ten-minute break of browsing Facebook doesn’t come with the same mental and physical payback of a ten-minute brisk walk outside, or chat and cup of tea with a coworker.

However, our social norms and work environments often surreptitiously encourage the wrong kind of break: the social media, mind-numbing kind. It’s easy to pull up a new tab and idle away five minutes, and no one looks unproductive because they’re still staring at their computers.

But leaving the office to go for a ten-minute walk?
Asking a coworker to step down to the lobby for a cuppa and quick chat?

That’s not easy to “get away with.” You can’t disguise that sort of behavior as real work, the way you can with social media binging.

The answer is to encourage real breaks instead of making your people feel like they need to pull them off on the sly.

Education over Enforcement

You can make all sorts of rules about social media, and some of them might be really great rules. Really effective.

Knowledge is the real power, though, and educating people works a lot better than enforcing rules.

You don’t want to waste time having endless round-table discussions about social media and its effect on our productivity. You do want to help your team understand how social media can be either a powerful tool or a deadly distraction, based on their use.

To help educate your team, you can

share articles, studies, and data
ask for their own insight and experience
talk about apps and extensions that streamline social media
set up reminders of social media goals
continue to encourage real breaks
call in a professional to teach techniques for social media use
find the expert on your team and ask for help.

The Habit of Asking

One small but powerful habit can help your team more than anything else. It’s a simple question that each person asks and then answers:

“What am I doing right now?”

It’s the question to ask anytime someone wakes up mindlessly surfing the Internet, scrolling through Facebook, lost in Reddit or Twitter. It’s the question to ask when one project or task is over and people are hanging out in that dangerous dead space before the next project begins.

“What am I doing right now?” is a simple but powerful question when asked and then answered, immediately and honestly.

“I’m looking at pictures of other people’s lives.”
“I’m reading stupid articles about celebrities.”
“I’m searching for a good joke to share.”
“I’m trying out photo filters.”
“I’m trying to think of a clever status update.”

When your people learn to ask and answer that question, they can’t ignore what they’re doing. Or not doing.

In some cases, what they are doing is perfectly legitimate, and they can feel good about that:

“I’m posting my daily update to our company Facebook page.”
“I’m sharing news from the conference I attended.”
“I’m live-tweeting this event.”
“I’m editing product photos.”
“I’m finding great content to share with our followers.”

When you and your whole team know what the social media goals are and get in the habit of thinking about how to use social media well, you get productive social media use.

That’s an update worth sharing.

Bitrix24 is a free total team management platform . Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB
See also:

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Free online collaboration
Team collaboration software and tools
Social collaboration platform

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Email has become one of the biggest detriments to productivity.

Your team members are spending 28% of their workweek dealing with email: reading it, responding to it, processing it. In other words, an entire day of a five-day workweek is spent on email.

Is email really that important?

Of course, email provides convenience. We can communicate across the globe instantly. When email becomes an overload of unnecessary communication, however, the burden outweighs the benefit.

 

Check Yourself First

Start by making sure you’re part of the solution, not the problem.

If you like to communicate by email about everything…
If you like to use group emails to discuss projects, tasks, clients, and the company holiday party…
If you keep multiple email threads going with multiple employees every day…
If you expect immediate replies to your emails…

…then you might be part of the problem.

If you have trained your employees that they must be immediately responsive to every email you send, guess what? You’ve trained them that they have to be immediately responsive to every email that everyone sends.

That sort of email obsessiveness will keep your people fr om doing the real work.

Start by changing your own email usage. Lim it the emails you send. Do email in batches instead of in a continual stream all day long. And include a timeline for responses: “Please respond by end of day,” or “Please let me know by next week,” or “Please respond within the hour.”

Your attitude toward email will help your people to feel free to use their own time wisely as well, instead of hopping and twitching every time their email notification dings.

Try Email-Free Times

Let your team members know that they are free to ignore email most of the time.

Our digital inboxes reduce productivity by dinging us with distractions. We get focused, head-down, on a project, and the beep or buzz or ding rips us away from it.

No matter how unimportant the email itself is, the energy and focus lost to dealing with that incoming buzz can totally derail productivity.

Encourage your employees to have email-free times to work: they can turn off notifications, shut down the email tab, and focus without any worries about what is appearing in their inboxes.

Instead of responding to email whenever that ding happens, they can focus fully on the task at hand, knowing that they are free to respond to email in their own time.

Batch Process for Email

Batch processing is the simple practice of doing a batch of similar tasks together, and it allows us to do those tasks in a more streamlined method and with more efficient results.

Email works really well in a batch processing method. Encourage everyone to choose a couple of times each day - perhaps once in the morning and once later in the afternoon - to read, answer, and otherwise process emails. This practice enables them to tackle an inbox with a batch processing approach, and work through a stack of emails in an efficient way.

Back Your Team Up

Let your team know that you will back them up with demanding clients.

If your team is working with clients who expect instant responses to email, let your people know that you stand with them in a saner approach to the inbox.

Remind them that they can stick to their productive email practices, such as email-free times and batch processing. Take a proactive approach: many times demanding clients will be much more understanding if they know what to expect and why.

Email Effectively

Use targeted subject lines, especially for in-house communication, so that no one has to dig through a paragraph of email body to figure out what’s going on.

Encourage the people on your team to be brief and clear in their emails. They should ask for specific responses and name timelines when appropriate (*Please respond by tomorrow, I need this information by next Monday)*.

Using email productively is a matter of establishing good team habits. The more you educate and encourage productive email use, the better you and your team will be at it.

Bitrix24 is a world’s most popular email free collaboration platform . Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB

See also:
Free CRM tools
Best CRM for small business
Free web based CRM software
Free sales management software
Free Real Estate CRM software
Ideal CRM for small companies

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You know that feeling at the end of the day, when you’ve worked and worked and have nothing solid to show for it?

Let’s get rid of that feeling.

Here are seven simple but powerful techniques to help you stay on track, focused, and organized at work.

1. Limit Your To-Do List

An overwhelming amount of tasks waiting for you has a negative effect on your productivity. It tends to, well, be overwhelming.

We see the whole long list as one big, intimidating project, and it’s difficult to get started on something intimidating. So rather than produce, we procrastinate. We’re overwhelmed and intimidated by the volume and confusion, so we shy away fr om dealing with it.

The solution?

Severely limit the size and scope of your daily task list. Focus on one to three important things per day. Allow minor tasks to fill the in-between times, and don’t worry about the rest.

2. Work in Time Segments and Take Breaks

You can find a dozen suggestions for the optimum “time segment” you should work.
It really doesn’t matter.

The point is to use a timer. Set it for a designated number of minutes. Choose one item fr om your (short) task list, start the timer, and do nothing but work on that item until the time is out. Then stand up, stretch, walk around. Take a break for five to fifteen minutes.

Come back, reset your timer, and then either a) resume work on that task or b) if the previous task is complete, choose a new task from your list.

3. Create a Space-Use Hierarchy for Your Stuff

Here’s how it works: the stuff you use most often should be closest to you, preferably within arm’s reach. But how often does that work out?

It’s time to arrange your workspace to match how you actually work.

Think of your workspace as a series of concentric circles. Three, to be exact.

Put the stuff you use daily closest to you, in that first, center ring.
Put the stuff you use weekly in the next ring.
Put the stuff you use monthly in the third, final ring.

Anything else? The stuff you use annually, or every few months, or never? It goes right out the door. Get rid of it, or store it elsewh ere.

4. Use Containers and Labels

Follow this simple rule for any physical item you keep in your workspace: put it in a container and
label.

Group small items together. Maybe you’ll get a set of those plastic drawers, stick them in the closet, and label them: paper and printing supplies, reference materials, so on.

Label things that you file. They go into a container (a folder in the file drawer) and that folder has a label.

Label things that you save digitally. They go into a container (a folder in your digital filing system, or your digital inbox) and they get a label (a tag, a color code, or a label via the file name itself).

5. The Inbox Habit and the 2-Minute Rule

The inbox habit works like this:
Designate two important inboxes. One is physical and one is digital.

Take all inputs - whether it’s mail, information, your own notes, voicemail, email, business cards - and you put them in the appropriate inbox.

Physical stuff goes in the physical inbox, digital stuff in the digital inbox.

Set a regular time to go through your inboxes. This is a great practice for low-energy times.

To keep your inbox stuff from piling up, employ the 2-minute rule.

When something comes in, glance at it; if it takes 2 minutes or less, then do it, answer it, schedule it, delegate it, or delete it right away. It doesn’t even need to go into your inbox.

6. Assign Days to Particular Projects or Areas

Perhaps you have three big projects currently going. Plus you have all the regular, non-project stuff, like keeping up with communication, team meetings, client follow-up, and maintenance work.
Assign a particular day to a particular areas, something like this:
Monday is for planning and Project #1.
Tuesday is for communicating and Project #2.
Wednesday is for meetings and Project #3.
Thursday is for client follow-up and non-project work.
Friday is for maintenance, plus wrapping up whatever didn’t quite get done on the other four days.

Assigning a day a particular focus will give you an automatic filter for what should get your attention on that day and what should wait.

7. Identify and Control Your Distractions

There are two primary types of distractions: external and internal.

The external distractions are the ones you don’t directly cause; they are people-powered interruptions.

The internal distractions are the ones you cause yourself: the internal voices that cause you to procrastinate, the piles of disorganized clutter that drive you crazy, the Internet addictions like social media and mindless surfing.

For external distractions, follow your inbox and 2-minute protocol for most inputs. For the people interruptions, it helps a lot to be using time segments. When someone pops during your work time, just say, “I’ve got to work on this for the next [x] minutes and then I’ll be happy to chat.”

For internal distractions, either designate a time to deal with it (clutter) or implement a lim it on it (installing a blocker software that keeps you from social sites during certain hours of your day).

As you start using these techniques in your work day, you will see a difference. Remember that the first few days are the most difficult. Stick with it, and you will build productive habits that will save you from the frustration of wasted time and lost opportunities.

Bitrix24 is a free TBM (total business management) and business automation platform. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB

See also:

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Free Call Center Software
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Free Virtual PBX
Free Cloud PBX
Virtual Call Center Software

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Not all small businesses are the same, of course, but there are a few money mistakes that are common to many types of small businesses. Check them out, and make sure these are not happening in your small business.

Mistake 1: Not Documenting Your Financial Foundation

This means doing your due diligence. Running a small business requires more than a great idea and some agile folks. It requires thought, planning, and documentation.

Yuck.

You’re good with the thought and the planning, but the documentation? Most of us don’t really like it.

It’s important, though, and if you think that you can lead your small business to financial viability without keeping track of things - like your money - you’re in for an unpleasant surprise.

Do you have a business plan? Do you have written goals for the short-term and long-term? Do you have the legal documents needed to run your business? Contracts for your employees, projected expenses, and accurate estimates of growth expenses and overhead as your business increases?

Though it’s easy to think that winging it will work, especially at first, it becomes more and more difficult to keep track of what’s happening financially as your business ages and grows. You need financial documentation for sales, expenses, taxes, employees, contractors, and, really, anything that involves money coming into or going out of your business.

Otherwise you really can’t know what’s happening with the money in your business, and not knowing is the most common and most dangerous mistake of all.

Mistake 2: Thinking that the Small Leaks Don’t Matter

In a small business, the small leaks do matter. And you know what? In a big business, they matter, too. Small leaks add up to make a big difference.

If you are seeing your business lose money in small quantities in any area, you need to find out why it is happening and what you can do to stop it.

Is it part of the process?

Then the cost needs to be calculated in the overhead, operating expenses, or other designated costs of running your business. If it’s not tracked and estimated, you won’t be able to make a good estimate of your profits.

Mistake 3: Losing Control of Inventory

With frequent fluctuations in volume and/or type of inventory, it’s easy to lose track of what is happening. Inventory represents money for your business. Perhaps you haven’t paid all the inventory off, in which case there is a lot of potential lost money if you don’t pay before the interest starts accumulating.

One of the most basic things a small business must be able to do is track its inventory. Find a system that works: an app, software, a dedicated system.

Make sure that your employees are trained and able to track inventory as counts change, and that there is a periodic overview (quarterly or annually) to make sure that the inventory counts are accurate.

Mistake 4: Letting Disorganization Create Financial Chaos

If you have all the documentation but you can’t find it when you need it, it’s not going to help you out very much.

Is organization an issue in your small business? If so, it’s time to tackle this issue so that you can get your hands on the paperwork and information you need when you need it, not three weeks or three years later, when you find it hidden at the bottom of a stack on your desk.

Organization may not be a fun activity, but having things organized and accessible will make your work so much easier. Invest the time. Get help if you need it. Set aside a weekend and tackle one area of your business at a time until you have papers filed, supplies categorized, and documents accessible in a way that works for you and your business.

Mistake 5: Skimping on Your Employees

What’s the bread-and-butter of your business? Is it your product? Your flagship service? Your brand? Your customers?

Wrong.

It’s your employees.

How many do you have: 5, 50, or 500? It doesn’t matter. If you’re a tiny business, a small business, or a medium business, your business is only as good as the employees in it.

And if you’re skimping on your employees, you are hurting your business.

Pay a decent salary, enough to attract the good employees who will do great work for your business. Put appropriate benefits in place. And invest in employee training, whether that investment is in terms of hours or dollars, or both. The best and most talented employee cannot do a good job if you haven’t provided the right training.

Get the most out of your employees by investing more into them.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Isn’t that the basic question that every small business owner wants to answer? What’s the bottom line: what are we making, and can we keep making it, and is it enough?

The bottom line is that keeping track of money in your small business is something you can do and must do. And when you build that good foundation, handle the small leaks, get organized, and invest in your employees, you’ll be building a sound financial future for your business.

Bitrix24 is a free TBM (total business management) platform. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB

See also:

- How we improved our ROI for PR tenfold
- 5 Ways Your Business Can Save by Moving to the Cloud
- Taking the First Steps to a Paperless Office
- 4 Copywriting Techniques to Remember for Better Email Marketing
- 3 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Boost Workplace Productivity
- Want Innovation? Embrace Constructive Conflict, Says Innovation And Creativity Guru Jeff DeGraff
- Free Nimble CRM Alternative 

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Overseeing a team can be tough work at any time, because it involves moving multiple people toward a common goal. Personality clashes, work styles, varying ideas, and everyday stress can make forward movement difficult.

What do you do when your people can’t mesh and make progress toward the goal?

A Healthy Team Has Conflict

Conflicts happen when you have a difference of opinion, but they’re not a bad sign. It’s simply a sign that a lot of opinions and ideas are being discussed, which is exactly what you want in a team.

If you have zero conflicts happening, it’s probably because one dominating personality is squashing everyone else’s ideas before they can even grow to the point of conflict.

The key to having a good team is helping your team members to understand how to handle conflict when it does arise. Outlaw personal insults, emotional tirades, and manipulation. Guide discussions. Make sure every team member gets a chance to speak.

Determine the Underlying Cause

If you’re dealing with a team which is having continual issues, then there’s something at the bottom of it. There are three main causes for ongoing team conflict:

- interpersonal
- current project or goal
- situational

What’s going on with your team?

Interpersonal conflicts often arise when you have two or more dominant personalities on the team. Or perhaps your team members simply have very different work styles and are feeling the tensions when those styles don’t mesh. Interpersonal conflicts can also arise when communication isn’t clear on who is in charge of what.

Conflicts over current projects or goals are common. Don’t assume the team all knows or agrees on the main goals. Have a meeting and make sure everybody knows why the team exists and what the priorities for the team are.

Demanding projects or clients can also cause stress that bubbles over into team conflict. Disagreement over which approach or methodology to use in reaching a goal can lead to stalemates between team members.

These disagreements can be dealt with and don’t mean something is wrong with the team, just that they need help working through the conflicts.

Situational conflicts can be the most deceiving, because the situation causing the conflict may not seem directly related to the team or the team’s current project. But a situation that involves change or stress, even in a general sense, can trickle down into heightened tensions which become unresolved team clashes.

A change in leadership or location, a limitation on resources, a particularly demanding client, or ongoing questions about the future of the company can all cause situational stress that doesn’t go away easily.

Get It Out in the Open

The worst thing to do is to pretend everything is okay.

It isn’t, and the sooner you start having honest discussions about the issues, the sooner you can resolve them.

Call a team meeting; moderate it actively. This is not a venting session, and you should make that clear at the beginning.

Nor is it necessary, or even wise, for your team to attempt to solve all the problems that they face in working together. The only goal for this preliminary meeting should be to identify the main issues and agree to work on them together.

Be careful not to let any one person or inner group dominate the discussion. Ask people to wait, take turns talking, and call out the quiet ones. They often have plenty of insight but don’t like getting into the fray, so ask for their input and require the talkers to take a break.

Follow Up with One-on-One Meetings

For issues which need to be addressed at a deeper level, it’s usually wise to do so with private, individual meetings. These meetings allow you to get honest feedback from individuals, without group talk or peer pressure influencing or hiding what might need to be said.

One-on-one meetings aren’t always necessary, but if they are, it’s best to have one with each member of the team. Leaving one or a few people out of these may create resentment.

Create an Action Plan

Meetings, meetings, more meetings.

Enough of that.

Time for action.

Whatever you’ve identified as an issue is a problem that can be solved. To solve it, you need to take action and make changes.

Present the problem(s) to your team and work together to create a plan of action to solve it. In all cases, the primary objective is team unity.

Team unity is worth the time it takes to achieve. With a cohesive team, creativity and conflict can happen, but they will move the team forward toward their common goals.

Bitrix24 is a free TBM (total business management) platform. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB

See also:

- How we improved our ROI for PR tenfold
- 5 Ways Your Business Can Save by Moving to the Cloud
- Want Innovation? Embrace Constructive Conflict, Says Innovation And Creativity Guru Jeff DeGraff
- The Top Money Mistakes that Small Businesses Make
- Best Basecamp Alternative 

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