We need a perspective to build a framework that pushes our thinking to come up with new ways every day to increase our efficiencies and create more solutions to our issues and problems. I have a plan to do just that.
1.Productivity framework for our business
The basis behind the change that I used is to eliminate those task that is unnecessary. To keep interruptions at a minimum while keeping time-wasters completely out of reach.
Using creativity is the only way to truly get this done.
At home or at a remote location it can be easy to get distracted and lose momentum just like employees do in the corporate world.
Here is a real-world example of how it works.
My wife and I have a small brick and mortar business that provides prepared meals to our customers. They are ready to be put in the oven so you can have a homecooked meal in approximately 30 minutes.
We used to keep an inventory manually. It was quick and easy to use. Trouble was it was easy to make mistakes.
We relied on this inventory to give us a list of what to make the next day.
Distractions were getting in the way. Sometimes we had a rush of customers and in our efforts to make their visit quick and easy we made inventory mistakes.
During the day we got shipments of food from the kitchen. If we have customers when that happens it doubles the distractions leading to more mistakes. I could go on and on, but I won’t because you get the idea.
I found myself and other employees using it to supply our customers. It seemed like overnight we were unexpectedly running out of things our customers were requesting. This led to lost sales.
We didn’t change it because we kept working to make it better. This caused a lot of unnecessary work. Hours were spent analyzing these mistakes and instituting rules to compensate. It didn’t work.
The business started to grow, and the inventory was still an issue. We were also doing manual sales tickets. We decided to go with a point-of-sale system that had an automatic inventory module with it.
The system, unfortunately, relied on our input and output to function. I guess you can see where I am going. It didn’t work any better or create any better efficiencies in our inventory system. Although, it fixed the manual sales tickets issue.
I decided to do away with the inventory module. I kept a running list that I checked just before I closed the shop for the day. Eliminating countless inventory inputs and 2–3 daily counts to reconcile the POS to what we had on hand. This saved a big chunk of time.
By staying in this framework of dumping unnecessary task I created more time to do more important work.
I still make a few mistakes, but I’m getting better every day.
That is how this framework works.
2. A daily task list
This is not a new idea. It is a simple idea that has created a lot of frustration in my business and personal life.
I sit down, often at my wife’s insistence, to do a task list.
Problems start right away as I feel stressed that I am not accomplishing a lot.
The list, on the other hand, seems to grow longer and longer.
My anger seems to grow along with this list.
I discovered a long time ago in order to eliminate anger you must find the obstacle(s) that is(are) preventing you from accomplishing your goal.
Now I try at the end of the day, while it is fresh in my mind, to evaluate what I did to accomplish the things on my daily task list.
I study the list and think about what happened when I tried to work on a specific unfinished task on the list.
I started to understand that distractions were the culprit that prevented me from accomplishing my daily goals.
What kind of distractions? Customers for one. I tried to work, but a rush of customers would cause me to lose my train of thought. Can’t blame customers.
I started to notice when there was a slow time and picked that time to do an intricate task. It works well most of the time.
Calls from our kitchen to produce food labels was another. The problem was I felt every time they sent a request I should stop and produce labels but that was not the way I should have been doing that job.
I needed to batch the requests and do them around the time they made the delivery.
Batching things has become my go-to idea to increase efficiency wherever possible.
3.Learning new skills
The magic of the internet has made learning new skills a way to solve problems and issues fast. Just Google the problem.
This has been a money saver for my life both personal and business.
At home, I have fixed dishwashers, dryers, washing machines, mowers and etc.
My work life has been a treasure chest of skills.
How to code.
How to design a website.
How to optimize images and photos.
How to do my own social media.
The list of skills that have been required in order to save the bottom line has been consistently ongoing. Not to mention the downtime waiting for someone to diagnose the problem and fix it.
This is something every small business owner and startup needs to explore and use.
Why? I know how my website works and that means 98% of things that need to be changed I can do in minutes without calling my fix-it guy and spending $50/hr. correcting a simple mistake. Really the list goes on and on in this regard.
4. Automation is king
I am presently learning how to use Penname to automate and schedule my tweets on Twitter.
I find it better than designing a tweet then manually retweeting my message. This saves me time. Plus, I never miss a chance to promote my writing.
The other area is using landing pages for gathering emails that are automatically listed in my list at MailChimp. Rather than designing the landing pages myself.
Doing it spends a little money rather than using my knowledge which shows the power of our next tip ranking task.
The ranking or prioritizing of task is very important. You saw how it became a conflict on whether to automate or do it myself. It was an item that was better automated to save time that could be spent on a more important task.
This process is called ranking task. I try prioritizing a task I find I do more than any other. As I find solutions, I have to make a mental calculation to see if prioritizing is smart.
I rank my task list every day. I hold the list to the most pressing 3 tasks I need to accomplish that day. Nevermore than 3 so I don’t become overwhelmed trying to accomplish everything and putting an obstacle in the way of my goals.
Outsourcing is tricky. It always involves money. You need to be careful to make sure you get a better product at a price that doesn’t have a huge impact on the bottom line.
I just got through making a big outsourcing decision on our online ordering system. It is hard to use or find a system that feels and looks professional.
It takes constant monitoring to make sure it functions as expected with no hiccups to cause issues with customers.
We are in the process of changing our merchant account system. They have a module that operates an ordering system right on our own website.
It cost $25/mo. I am always working on our system which doesn’t work perfectly and has hampered this revenue stream for our business.
I investigated another company that uses the new system and I was impressed.
The added revenue of one additional order per month could pay for the monthly fee and solve our headaches with the old system. This is definitely better by outsourcing.
The concept here is to accomplish more with the framework without stress. I believe this system satisfies that rule.
Every time I find something to improve and take an honest view of the options available, I find I can improve my business.
I get very motivated about change for improvements that I am no longer willing to work with obstacles and problems. This process helps me redefine tasks and results on a daily basis.
Success to me comes in the smooth operation of a profitable and sustainable business. I’m sure you are working towards that as well. Can you make improvements? Try my framework and let me know how it goes.