Category Archives: productivity tools

The Need for Automation

gears-300x300I was just reading the latest Industry Week magazine (digital version of course) and the article on robots caught my attention. The quote from Jeff Burnstein, President of the Robotics Industries Association started me thinking. Jeff stated that “If you are not automating, you’re not producing the best-quality products out there, you’re not meeting customer demand fast enough, you’re going to go out of business.”  Now robots have really come along way and while they may or may not have an application in your business automation certainly does. With the labour skills shortage we are experiencing in this region automating as many processes as possible can be one solution and you don’t need robots to do this. Computers can automate many processes from the receipts at a restaurant (we still have handwritten receipts being given out at one restaurant in our city) to automatic time calculations for invoicing customers.  You can even outsource the automation, payroll is a good example.

So if you are not tech savvy then how do you incorporate this digital technology into your business? Maybe I should have started my blogs with this advice but sometimes people need to be convinced they need the stuff before they will buy in. This article I came across offers some good advice including; start with understanding the problem you are trying to solve as well as your end goals for your business and how to get your employees on board.  It also recommends you act now and that you can’t afford to put your head in the sand.

If you are interested in hearing more from me this week I did a guest post on the Moving Innovation Forward Blog. Check out ‘Innovating Innovation?

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

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Mobile Cash

mobile-paymentsBDC just put out a newsletter that referred to an article called ‘Technology to Help Entrepreneurs Boost their Cash Flow’. It’s a good article, originally posted back in February 2011 but still relevant.  While the article recommends technology to help businesses become more productive it also cautions owners not to buy technology for the sake of technology. It’s important to train staff on how to run the technology or the investment doesn’t work.

That same article refers to using mobile payments as a cash flow tool. The only thing that surprises me there is that mobile payments haven’t caught on quicker.  According to a study regarding technology in the Hospitality Industry, the University of Denver in conjunction with the University of Nevada suggest that by 2015 only 53% of restaurants and 39% of hotels plan to offer mobile payment. I travel a little bit and waiting in line at a hotel the next morning to pay my bill is not one of my favorite experiences. If you are looking to provide a better experience for your customers and to better manage your cash flow maybe it’s time you looked into mobile payment.

Looking at interactive digital signage? That same university study ranked interactive digital signage high in both business impact and customer engagement for restaurants and hotels.  If you are interested in exploring that option let me know as there is a company in our region that specializes in digital signage.

In closing today I just can’t resist sharing this post by Fred Kofman called ‘Cut Your Meeting Time by 90%’. Fred suggests that the only goal for a meeting is ‘to decide and commit’. While other things naturally have to occur during meetings if there is no decision or commitment to follow through the meeting was probably a waste of time. A great article.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Productivity Through Apps

Apps are causing huge productivity gains in some companies as this apps1article in the Wall Street Journal points out. In some cases they are replacing employees as customers become their own bank tellers, checkout clerks, restaurant order takers and even insurance adjusters. Apps are even giving companies a way to give customers directions and answer questions without paying concierge staff. This all points to a change in customer expectations, customers are now quite happy to be part of the entire experience not just be ‘served’. Even Wal-Mart is looking at a self-checkout app that lets customers scan items with their phone as they place them in the shopping cart. What about you – are your customers part of the experience or are you just serving them and does that make them happy?

Speaking of Apps I found this Infographic that highlights important apps for running a business with a smart phone. The list includes; financial apps, cloud storage, customer service and even apps for money transactions among others.  One highlighted free app is the Square Card Reader. It comes with a free card reader for your phone that allows you to take credit cards from your customers and have those funds go into your bank account the next day. More and more being digitally savvy allows us to be productive in ways we never thought possible.

Last week we held our first ever Digital Forum and from the feedback we received it was a definite success! The event was videotaped and the intent is to turn it into a series of webcasts so those that were unable to attend can still benefit. Those webcasts will be hosted on our website in the next few weeks. I will keep you posted.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive and how to use digital technology to do that please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Digital Technology for Marketing & Accounting

Yellow-PagesDoes Digital Technology play a role in your Marketing Strategy? I can’t remember the last time I used the phone book to find a local business. Between my smart phone and my PC at home I Google what I am looking for,  so if your business isn’t on the internet chances are excellent I will NOT find it. I also look to Google for information about businesses that are recommended to me. While word of mouth starts this process it is the internet that sells it.  IBM did a study this year (2012) that indicates that within five years social media will be the number two way to engage with customers (after face-to-face personal interaction). All this points to the fact that you need to use digital technology in your marketing strategy. To that end I recently came across some advice from the BDC.  This article give 8 tips on how to market your business locally on the internet including Google Places and Facebook (remember the IBM study).

What if you could view your accounting data online from your phone? Suddenly you can know whether a client has paid you or instantly bill them all while you are at their place of business. Well Quick Books now has an app for that as explained in this recent article on itbusiness.ca. Now that would be using digital technology to make you more productive. What I found scary though was that according to a survey conducted on behalf of Intuit Canada (makers of QuickBooks) less than half of the Canadian small & medium businesses that responded actually used financial management software. No wonder the Canadian government is encouraging the adoption of digital technology to increase productivity.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Productivity Apps and Other Tools

In an effort to keep track of the latest in digital technology for businesses I regularly receive newsletters and download free e-books. HubSpot is a type of marketing software and while I don’t use the software I really appreciate the resources they send. Past e-books have included ‘How to use Twitter for Business’ and the most recent is an e-book on 20 Marketing Trend and Predictions for 2013.

apple-iphone-apps-32Another great site for resources is Melinda Emerson’s Small Biz Lady site. I came across her blog on the 10 Best Productivity Apps for Small Business Owners. It is a good article and while at the moment I only use DropBox and Evernote I have every intention of checking out a few more of these.

After reading that blog post I explored Melinda Emerson’s Small Biz Lady site and I found several tidbits worth sharing. From posts on Google+ (another one of those social media connectors) to the New Rules of Small Business Marketing, and even a post discussing a Mobile App for your business.

The small business landscape is changing at such an exponential rate it is hard to keep up and you really have to be purposeful in order to be productive. Perhaps some of these articles will help.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Digital Technology How To Tools

examples of digital technologyI have been doing some research on the internet trying to understand this whole ‘digital technology’ thing. I truly believe digital technology can make you more productive so now I am out to prove it.

I am not someone who tries to keep up with the latest and greatest technology. To me simpler is better and the more complex something is the less productive I become. When I first started writing this blog it was important to me that anything I shared needed to be useful, practical and fairly simple, something that I would use or that would work for me. That hasn’t changed. So this quest that I am embarking on won’t be any different.

There are a number of Digital Technology blogs out there. Ones that explore the latest in technology offering their reviews and tips on the newest stuff, ones that report news on digital technology like the New York Times Blog, but the best one I have come across for our purpose is called ‘Digital Inspiration’. Digital Inspiration seems to be written for the average person who uses the internet, which is awesome as I certainly am not looking for information geared to technology buffs. According to the site their purpose is to help you take maximum advantage of the software tools and web technologies at your disposal so that you spend more time doing things you really love. Now that sounds like a plug for digital technology improving productivity if I ever heard one.  I found some pretty cool how-to guides on the site http://www.labnol.org/tag/guide/  (over 200 of them) and they seem to be fairly easy to follow. That might be a good place for someone to start if they are looking to get more productive with digital technology. Here is hoping you find some value in my explorations.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/ or check out our new website at http://www.connectingindustry.ca/

Digital Technology for Productivity

Do you ever wonder how much more productive you would be if you were able to use digital technology appropriately? And what exactly does that look like? On occasion I have tried to use digital technology to help with a new project or approach only to find my productivity went out the window. After that it’s hard to convince anyone they should adopt something new to get more productive.

At some point though technology becomes so common place that you have to wonder at those that don’t adopt it. We have a restaurant in town that has a few outlets. Their food is good and they do good business but at all the locations the servers still write-up the bills by hand on sticky notes. The line up at the till is often long as the servers add up the hand written notes on a calculator and heaven help the patron if they need a real receipt. Now that is one of the best examples that I can think of for using technology to be more productive.

In my last post I talked about having the proper tools but sometimes that may not be enough. The tools alone won’t do it; you need to know how to use the tools. Here’s the conundrum – who’s got time for that?  In the next few posts I plan on exploring productivity through the lens of digital technology and how you make that work. Here is hoping it may be easier than I think.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/.

Finishing

In my world productivity is more than just being productive with my time, it’s also about finishing projects. Unfinished tasks tend to constantly interrupt your thoughts, a sort of auto-pilot system reminding you what needs to be accomplished. This can really affect your productivity as the more projects or tasks you have on the go the more difficult it becomes to focus. (See the Zeigarnik effect in the September 28, 2011 blog post ‘Do Your Tasks Take Too Long?) I came across a post by Dr. Jeremy Statton called ‘7 Ways to Help You Finish Any Project’.  I really like all 7 tips but one I really believe is important is ‘Have the Proper Tools’. Not having the right tools can really make the project take longer and often gives less than professional results. Something I am sure most of us can relate to with first-hand experience. Another tip I liked was around deadlines. Creating smaller deadlines rather than just one big deadline also made sense especially when you consider Parkinson’s Law, which states; work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. I urge you to check out the post for the rest of the tips.

So how about those boring tasks that still need to get done before they clog up your focus. Often it is tough to find motivation to get those done but I subscribe to the newsletters from the Positivity Blog and in the May 22 newsletter they offered 6 tips on how to get those boring tasks done. My two favorite were don’t think about it just do it and focus 100% on the task. Often we can get that task done in the time it takes to think about ways to avoid it. As for focusing 100% on the task that reminds me of a favorite quote by Nadia Boulanger, ‘Life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.’ Other tips included; do the task in short bursts of time, create a pleasurable distraction as you perform the task and reward yourself when it is done. Here’s hoping that helps you with those boring tasks.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/.

Which Work Mode do you Prefer?

According to productivity consultant Veronica Brown we basically work in three modes: Production Mode, Collaboration Mode, and Service Mode.  In this article by Lisa Earle McLeod called ‘How to Get Things Done: Separate Your Work Modes’, Lisa gives a good description of each mode and suggests that while most jobs require you to work in all three modes most of us prefer some modes over others. The different modes are very distinct and trying to switch between them would offer the same results as multitasking. The solution – separate the modes; Let your phone (Service Mode) go to voice mail as you finish that proposal (Production Mode), Focus on the discussion at the meeting (Collaboration Mode) rather than let your mind wander to the budget (Production Mode) you need to complete.  Try it for an afternoon and see if it doesn’t make a difference for you.

I find it interesting that even with all the evidence against multitasking (see blog post Multitasking; Good, Bad or Downright Rude?)  as a good way to get things done people continue to multitask and to defend their right to do so. Thanks to this article ‘Multitasking Seems to Serve Emotional, Not Productivity, Needs’, I now understand why. Multitasking makes you feel good! Apparently it makes you feel more emotionally satisfied with your work.  Multitasking is a very good way to meet those emotional needs like fun, entertainment, and relaxing, you were probably not intentionally trying to satisfy. Even though you don’t do the job as well as you could if it makes you feel good who can argue with that? One word of warning though the research indicates multitasking can be habit-forming and with emotional rewards a difficult habit to break.

Do you keep a journal? According to the article ‘The #1 Productivity Tool You Aren’t Using’ that could be one of the best productivity tools there is. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, in her new book ‘The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work’, suggests keeping a journal is one of the best strategies for learning about yourself and improving your professional performance over time. I have tried keeping a journal a few times but for some reason it is not something that I choose to make time for. Perhaps now I will re-look at that.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/.

Innovate and Be More Productive

I often feel innovation and productivity are at odds but in this day and age if you aren’t doing both you are probably on the road to serious trouble. I recently came across Jeffrey Phillip’s blog called Innovate on Purpose. In this post he was discussing the ‘Five Factors that drive the need for more innovation’. The more I read the post the more I concluded those factors were responsible for the need to become more productive as well. Customer expectations, the driving force behind any business, have evolved considerable from the days of old. The increased pace of change, increased access to information, decreased cost of entry into the market place and falling trade barriers have all lead to better informed customers with way more choices and opportunities to not only get exactly what they want but get it easier, cheaper and faster than ever before. To compete in this arena businesses need to be on the very top of their game.

So how do you do that? Well in a different post I came across some tips on how to turn employee creativity into corporate innovation. 5 must be the magic number today as this post offers 5 tips as well including invest in basic ideation training to help employees increase their creative output. It also suggests you can set up the environment to encourage creativity. As always it is about capitalizing on the talent and ingenuity of your employees. I urge you to check out the post – perhaps there are some tips there that you can use.

In closing today I can’t resist offering one more tip on how to be more productive. How about a vacation from email? According to this new study a vacation from email could be a health benefit offering reduced stress and better focus as well as increased productivity on the job. Apparently constantly reading emails not only causes stress but actually raises your heart rate. Why not consider using email blackout periods to not only help with the productivity but to set the stage for some creative time as well.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/.