Personal Productivity

11 Paperless Office Efficiency Tips

11 Paperless Office Efficiency Tips
wrote this on August 27, 2012 / 11 comments

During the week, the office is buzzing with activity.  Whether it’s reading or sending emails, answering calls, attending meetings, researching and working on projects, there are always things that need to get done and never enough time.

With all this activity, and usually chaos, something is bound to fall between the cracks…balls will get dropped.  Usually when something goes wrong, someone gets the blame, but often the problem can be traced to how the office is organized, or should we say ‘not organized’.

Here are 11 tips that will help you manage your office like a Swiss clock and keep your office functional even under pressure.

1# Manage to do lists with a purpose

Every task or project you have on your desk should be on a to-do list.  This allows you to manage them according to priority, context and timelines. Never file them as miscellaneous, it’s not a category. When you keep a task “hanging”, you sentence it to “task purgatory”.

2# Create a trusted workflow for tasks

Make sure that once you open an email, a document, receive a phone call, finish a meeting, that there is a predefined workflow for managing any tasks that arise.  Follow your workflow like your life depends on it…your office efficiency certainly depends on it!

3# Do follow-ups and reviews

Creating a system to check the status of any task and project is imperative in every office environment to keep everything functional. If you want to maintain a high level of control and prevent from tasks getting lost, do your reviews on a weekly basis!

4# Organize smooth delegation processes

If you have employees or colleagues that can help you on a task, delegate it. Develop a method and use tools that enable you to transfer tasks effectively and communicate instructions clearly without scheduling unnecessary meetings. Recurring tasks most likely should be delegated because it’s been done before, making it easier to review and perfect.

5# Store reference materials online for easy access

Make project reference material available online! It will speed up office communication and prevent unnecessary talk between employees about the whereabouts of certain docs.  All project materials should be known to the team members and easily accessible online.  All team members should be able to add information to this central repository.  Information should be categorized properly and connected to the relevant project and tasks.

6# Handle files and tasks only once

A lot of people have a tendency to open a file or an email and close it immediately after, saying they’ll return to it later…Drop that habit ASAP.  Once you read something, make a decision about it, trash, reply, relate it to an existing task or project, etc.  You can’t imagine how much time is wasted on reading and re-reading emails.  Once it’s related to an overall task or project, you’ll know to address it in the right context, priority, and timeframe.

7# Schedule breaks!

Breaks are really important for keeping office efficiency at its peak.  Taking mental breaks from your tasks can improve your focus and help you get into the zone much faster. Especially when doing repetitive tasks, breaks are important.  Repetitive actions and thoughts are regarded by our brains as unimportant; to the point the brain becomes ineffective in processing them.

8# Share office objectives and goals to motivate everyone

Do you have a shared calendar in the office or an office workspace that allows you to take a look at the progress of shared projects? Seeing in real time how far/close you are (as a team) to complete a common goal makes everyone work harder.  By sharing updates and dates from goal completion on the same board, you can harness the entire office to work harder and boost morale.

9# Limit the number of meetings

Meetings are poison.  Nothing gets done while you’re in a meeting and although it might give you an illusion of doing; you’re actually not making any progress. Now I don’t say eliminate meeting completely.  Make sure each meeting has a clear objective and set timeframe.  Manage the meeting in such a way that people do no digress to other topics.  Stay on point and stay focused!  Of course, clearly document, assign and circulate the meeting notes and actions.  Go back to Step #3 to make sure they get done.

10# Use Common methodology and terminology

When everyone talks in the same language and works with the same methodology, it’s easier to get things done. Create a culture in your office based on a productivity method, e.g., Getting Things Done by David Allen.  Hand a copy of the book to your employees and equip them with practical knowledge that will help them to get tasks done faster.

11# Give your team the tools to succeed

The method is one aspect, but a method without a tool is like a fishing pole without the lure.  When everyone works and collaborates on the same platform, it’s easier to manage and achieve the office tasks, projects, and objectives.  Everything is clearly listed, delegated and communicated amongst the team.

We’d like to invite to create a lean and mean office-efficiency machine.  IQTELL will help you and your teams get organized by connecting everything in one place!

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  • Geralin Thomas

    These are fantastic tips. Tip number ten is an excellent tip to carry over into residential organizing practices, especially when it comes to filing + naming conventions [of files] I see a lot of clients home filing systems where one person in the home labels it a “Vehicle” file. The spouse/partner labels it (and creates a new file) “Automobile” and then a teen driver, creates a third file, labeling it, “Car” All three labels are perfectly adequate + appropriate but the point is, everyone should have the same naming conventions. It doesn’t matter if you name the file, “Car,” “Vehicle” or “Automobile” just make sure everyone is using the same terminology.

    • http://iqtell.com/ Team IQTELL

      I specially love collected docs, various docs and general docs, you can drive someone crazy with non definite terminology :)

  • http://twitter.com/LindaSamuels Linda Samuels CPO-CD

    Excellent post, Haim! These tips make so much sense. I can feel the energy and productivity radiating from them. I have to think longer about #6 Handle Things Once. I am guilty as charged, as I don’t always do that. It seems like there isn’t the time to actually handle something properly at first glance and so it sits. I’m guessing that is a good place to re-evaluate a potentially unproductive habit.

    • http://iqtell.com/ Team IQTELL

      Some tasks can’t be handled once, no matter how hard you try. The important thing is to set a next action for that task. I still consider a task “handled” when I schedule it to be processed 3 hours form now for instance…it’s all about handling it and moving it up the pipeline instead of clogging it with mark as unread options.

  • Mari

    I heartily agree with everything you write here! Too bad business owners and managers are too stubborn to change and still want to do things their way…inefficiently!

    • http://iqtell.com/ Team IQTELL

      Like every big change, it’s all about social proof…Once your environment changes, you have to adapt or give way. Their unwillingness to except change is related directly to how deep they are entrenched in their comfort zone. Do you know this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcz1aZ60k7w

  • Helena Alkhas

    Really great tips Haim and I will have to improve on #6 as I open emails, read them hoping to make a quick decision and then come back to it later. I try to keep my inbox clean, but not always easy!

    • http://iqtell.com/ Team IQTELL

      To clarify even further I refer you to the reply I just just gave to Linda’s (above) comment: “Some tasks can’t be handled once, no matter how hard you try. The important thing is to set a next action for that task. I still consider a task “handled” when I schedule it to be processed 3 hours form now for instance…it’s all about handling it and moving it up the pipeline instead of clogging it with mark as unread options.” :)

  • Jeremy Murfitt

    Another ting I have learnt to increase productivity is to switch off email/PC/Ipad/Iphone (I put them in flight mode) when I have an important task to undertake. A morning without interuption can acheive fantastic results. Looking forward to beta testing IQTell. I haven’t found anything yet which is the “complete” GTD system.

    • http://iqtell.com/ Team IQTELL

      Glad to have you on our beta! Personally I answer emails twice per day…that’s an excellent tip :)

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