In the world of startups, budgets are tight and margins slim — there’s no room for slack. As your business gains its footing, it’s crucial that you do everything you can to maximize startup productivity without inciting burnout or turnover.
Boosting productivity today is easy, but ensuring its long-term presence is a bit more difficult. Taking a few simple steps now can ensure that your team is working to its full potential well into the future.
Here’s where to start:
1. Have designated workflows.
Simply put, startups can’t afford to fly in the dark when it comes to their workflows. Without a firm plan in place for how various tasks will be handled, workload imbalance will skyrocket and productivity will plummet almost instantly.
Thankfully, there are plenty of solutions that businesses can adopt. Choosing a project management template or pre-designed workflow is a good starting point, but you’ll need to continue to update it as time goes on to reflect the evolving responsibilities of your employees.
2. Use tech carefully.
Technology has undoubtedly given workers a massive boost in productivity over the past several years, right? The reality might not be so simple. Workplace productivity has actually been declining recently, and improper tech use might be to blame.
Spending too much time on social media or browsing the web can easily undo all of the productivity benefits that technology can offer. If necessary, install software that caps your ability to venture to time-wasting sites, ensuring you’re putting the majority of your effort toward work that helps strengthen your business.
3. Eliminate email.
The average employee checks his or her email up to 36 times per hour — if that’s not unproductive, it’s difficult to say what is. Email has long been a time drain for workers, but with more offices operating remotely than ever, it’s become particularly problematic over the past few months.
Businesses are increasingly gravitating toward instant messaging platforms like Slack or Facebook Messenger as a replacement for emails. IM apps reduce response time, do away with formalities, and don’t need to be frequently refreshed, making them an obvious replacement for email.
4. Slash meetings.
Nearly everyone knows that meetings are unproductive, yet they just don’t seem to go anywhere. In fact, 71% of senior managers say their meetings are regularly unproductive, and the rise of Zoom meetings likely means that number won’t be changing anytime soon.
Instead of constant meetings, schedule one-on-ones when absolutely necessary and use mass communication for teamwide updates. Employees are far less likely to work or lose focus during intimate meetings, and reading a concise message takes far less time than a teamwide trip to the conference room.
5. Prioritize the minimum viable product.
When developing your first offerings as a business, it can be tempting to include as many bells and whistles as possible — but this strategy only drains your time in the long term. Instead of trying to build the most complex thing out there, focus on constructing a minimum viable product, or MVP, first.
By building a fully functional and deployable product before anything else, you’re protecting yourself from eventual schedule crunches or feature creep. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a cutting-edge product — just be sure you’re not sacrificing the productivity of your business in the process.
6. Delegate appropriately.
One of the benefits of a small team is being able to delegate quickly and effectively. At large companies, it can become impossible to know who’s doing what and when. Working at a startup allows you to boost your productivity through delegation without getting caught in a tangle of workflows along the way.
This doesn’t mean that you can freely reassign anything that comes across your desk, though. Keep careful track of who at your business has the most on their plate and who has the least; once you have a good sense of different workloads and skill sets, feel free to redistribute appropriately.
7. Track time.
How can you know you’re productive if you don’t even know what you’re spending your time on? Tracking your time is the easiest way to understand how you can alter your schedule to increase your output.
The market is currently flooded with time-tracking apps that can help you with this, but you also need to know what to do with this information once you get it. Develop a metric for assessing how much each task contributes to your productivity, and focus on those that push that needle the hardest.
Implementing some of these habits into your business model won’t just bolster your productivity; they’ll promote your employees’ well-being and mental health as well. Focusing on what you can do to help your team should always be the first focus — productivity will certainly follow.