How Managers Can Improve Employee Productivity

If you’re expecting your employees to do more with less resources, you can at least do whatever you can to ease the burden. It’s possible for them to get more work done without the burn-out from long hours, but you’ll have to make some changes first.

Think things through instead of just thinking it up. Before you implement another idea you just thought up, think it through first. Poor planning on your part destroys morale and causes productivity to plummet.

Eliminate time wasters. Have employees identify at least three ways management wastes their time and do the necessary work to fix it. Also have employees identify the top three things they do to waste time and hold them accountable for changing.

Clean up the mess. Hold a massive “clean up, throw out” campaign and declutter offices, file cabinets, computer files, and email Inboxes. Then create systems that make it easy and quick for anyone to find anything.

Teach them how to set goals and prioritize. Everyone needs to have a vision of how they see themselves and have a strategic plan for getting there. From the vision, you set goals that are big picture. Each goal needs a set of objectives that are specific and measurable. And few things get done without an action plan for reaching the objectives.

Streamline processes and bureaucracy with insider ideas. Implement a suggestion plan for all employees to improve processes and procedures. Then reward (with a cash percentage of the savings) and publicize the ideas from individuals or teams that work.

Invest in training regardless of the job. Don’t expect people to already have all the necessary skills they need. Offer training, from email software to management styles. With the right training, they’ll finish the work quicker with fewer mistakes.

Reduce time spent in meetings. Have meetings standing up, right before lunch, or near the end of the workday. Publish an agenda that includes an objective, start it on time, close all PDAs, stay on schedule, and end on time. When it’s over, ask if the meeting’s objective was met and hold people accountable.

Change your email culture. Too many people are drowning in email due to bad habits. Change habits such as replying to all unnecessarily, using the Inbox for storage with hundreds or thousands of messages, sending messages that don’t match the subject line, and flooding Inboxes instead of picking up the phone.

Communicate clearly. Before you delegate a task, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you want to happen. You’ll want to give an overview with the purpose, explain the specifics, be clear about the result, and empower the employee to make decisions. Eliminating inefficiencies in your organization gives people more time to think. And when they start thinking, they’ll develop smarter ways to work. And when they start working smarter, you, your organization, and your members will reap the benefits.

I hope you’ll schedule some time on your calendar to think about all this, develop a plan for getting it done, then do it.

PEACE.

14+ Windows 7 Tips in 14 Minutes for End Users (with video)

I’m going to record a lot more videos in 2012 and build up my TV channel on YouTube (Suite Minute with Peggy Duncan). I bought a more powerful laptop so I could upgrade and buy different video editing software. The laptop came pre-loaded with Windows 7, and this is my first exposure to it. I figured I may as well make a recording of what I was learning. The video below covers the features I’ve been using every day. It’s 12+ (at least 14) tips in just under 14 minutes..

For more training, I’m giving my own public seminars, workshops, and Webinars in Atlanta. And I can travel internationally to speak at your location.

Embed This Windows 7 Video Into Your Site

I hope you’ll promote this video to your network, and feel free to embed it into your site. If you use WordPress, here is a video I made on how to insert a video into your site from YouTube so that it doesn’t disappear later.

What You’ll Learn in Windows 7

Below this video is what you’ll learn and where it appears in the video. Please click Share, Like, etc., on YouTube, and also leave a comment here to let me know what you think.

Windows 7 Tips for End Users Time on Video

Show day of week on the Taskbar

0:41

Shortcut to Windows Desktop called  Aero Peek (I use this mostly to see my weather gadget on my Desktop)

01:26

Add program shortcuts to the Taskbar

01:47

Add a folder to the Taskbar for quick access

02:31

Open multiple instances of programs and browsers

03:30

Customize: Start menu, Jump List; add Run command

04:01

Search for a program and add to Start menu

05:43

Aero Shake: Hide/unhide multiple windows at once (I’ve used this when I’ve wanted to drag a file to my Desktop quickly)

06:20

Windows Explorer: Your computer’s filing cabinet

06:41

Resizing, maximizing a window by dragging

07:37

Using a dual monitor setup

07:56

Preview pane to see files before you open

08:50

Eliminate need to do a hard refresh

10:12

Create a System Repair Disc (an emergency reboot disc)

12:36

 

 

 

How to Sign a PDF (Custom Stamp) or Word Document (AutoText) Without Printing (with video demo)

I want to be as paperless as possible in my business, and have figured out ways to do it.

Consequently, I have a printer in my office that never gets used. I’d covered this in a previous post a few years ago that’s still relevant today.

Too much paper around you (clutter) could come from your printing too much stuff. And one reason to print is when you have to sign something. To eliminate my need to print a client contract so I could sign it and fax it back, I created a custom stamp in Adobe Acrobat to sign PDFs. In Word, I have my signature saved as AutoText and can pop it in whenever and wherever it’s needed by typing a set of keyboard shortcuts.

If you’ve tried a service such as Docusign.com, you’ll find that my way is sooooo much quicker with less clicks and time once you set it up.

If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat, check out PDFfiller.com. You can complete a form and email, fax, or print it. You can also draw your signature on the screen or upload your scanned signature. There is a cost for this service, but I think it’s worth it if you don’t have Acrobat (29.99 unlimited use, unlimited forms for 365 days; $9.99 unlimited use, unlimited forms for 30 days; and $12.99 unlimited forms for 1 day).

This video is part of my new series for Suite Minute TV: tips that will save minutes or hours every day for people who don’t have a second to spare.

Any ideas  or suggestions on how you run your business or job without printing? Please leave a comment and share.

PEACE.

New Laptops Don't Have Modems So I Bought One (USB) and Use with NetZero

USB modem for laptopI travel a lot for business, training everywhere from Australia to Orlando, Florida. On occasion, I’ve been caught with no fast Internet access or cell phone service. Dial-up and NetZero to the rescue. This configuration has come in handy numerous times, and I don’t want to be without it.

I recently purchased a new HP laptop with all the bells and whistles. But the one thing it lacked was a modem. No modem, no dial-up. Fortunately, I found a USB modem at Amazon and ordered it right away. My NetZero account is worth the $5 a month I pay for local access to the Internet everywhere I go.

My new laptop has two 3.0 USB ports, so this should work (I’ve read where people couldn’t get this to work in a lower-owered port). I don’t have a land line at home so I haven’t tested this yet. I’ll update the post if I have problems.

I like to be as prepared as possible, and being the only one in the group who can still download email and get on the Internet to check a flight makes me smile. If you travel, it’s worth every penny.

PEACE.

My iPhone Videos Were Sideways or Upside Down: A Free Solution to this Annoying Problem

What an annoyance! When I’d slide my videos off my iPhone to my Windows laptop, they’d play fine in QuickTime, but sideways or upside down in all of my Windows media software. I turned to Google for a solution and discovered Free Video Flip and Rotate, a free download at DVDVideoSoft.com (lots of other  downloads here).

This software is so simple and easy to use (when you use it, click the to browse for your files).

It worked great. But then I played the video. My video and voice were not synched. I tried it again, but first, I converted the video to a Windows format (I usually convert to .avi) using the Movavi Video Converter (DVDVideoSoft also has a video converter that might work for you, but I already had Movavi, and it’s the one software that keeps the quality of the video every time).

It’s also best to move the file to your computer first.

What did I do before Google? It solves so many of my problems.

Note: The free Windows Live Movie Maker will rotate your video, but I lost the quality for some reason. You can also rotate a video in YouTube’s video editor, but I work with my videos before uploading.

PEACE.

How to Insert a YouTube Video Into a WordPress Blog So It Doesn't Disappear Later (with video demo)

In later updates of WordPress, my videos started disappearing if I made a change to the post before or after I published it. I’ve recorded the demo below to show you how to insert a video and keep this from happening.

First, make sure you’re using the latest version of WordPress and install the Tiny MCE Advanced plugin.

Next, open the video on YouTube, right-click on it, and click Copy video URL (do not use the URL in the browser address bar). With the video URL copied, go back to your blog post, click the Insert/edit embedded media toolbar button that’s part of the Tiny MCE Advanced plugin toolbar (not the button under the Permalink). 

Check out my video demo below for complete instructions.

Please leave a comment or any other method you’ve found that works.

PEACE.

Q&A How Can I Stay Focused When Working from Home?

I run a business out of my home and I have difficulty staying focused on the business when I get distracted by projects around the house as well as family coming and going. How can I retain a laser-like focus on my business in a home business environment?

Just as you will for work, you’ll have to stop long enough to put systems in place for getting everything done at home.

Assess interruptions. If you do an assessment of what your family continues to interrupt you for, you can make simple changes to reduce them (e.g., putting an item in a smaller container and moving it to a lower shelf in the refrigerator to give a child easier access).

Establish boundaries. Set up office hours just as you would in a traditional environment, and make it clear what constitutes a worthy interruption (e.g., the stove is on fire).

Get organized. You should give up your job of running the lost and found department at home. Everyone should get organized in a manner that works for them so they can find whatever they need without you.

Create routines. To make scheduling work easier, it’ll help if you establish routines. For example, you might cook meals, wash clothes, etc., during the day. It’ll work better if you create a routine to perhaps cook for the week early every Saturday morning. To get the laundry done, set a date every week to head to the laundromat. You’ll use ten machines at once instead of washing on one machine all week at home. Take something to work on and something to read.

If you make these changes and still find it hard to stay focused, you have to accept that you may lack the necessary discipline to work from home.

Let me know what works for you by leaving a comment.

PEACE.

 

 

How to Stay Focused When You're Working on Multiple Projects

I need to stay focused on several different projects simultaneously, and they all have different deadlines. Too many things are falling through the cracks (mine and my staff). How can I stay focused on each project without neglecting anything?

It’s not how much work you’re doing, it’s why and how you’re doing it. Look at each project individually and make sure it’s worth everyone’s time. Then figure out how to get it done with the least amount of time and effort. With better processes, it’ll be easier to train your employees sufficiently and this results in their having fewer questions.

Get started by organizing everything related to a project using a product that fits the job: a work folder, file drawer, binder, etc. This will help you avoid having everything you’re working on out on your desk at once, keeping you distracted and overwhelmed. You’ll start thinking more clearly too.

You should also schedule time to work on each project and avoid jumping from one to the next. You’ll get more done if you focus on one thing at a time and either finish it or get it to a logical stopping point. Don’t let multitasking rob you of the satisfaction that comes from completing something.

Technology can help too. Whatever you’re working on, technology you probably already have will make it easier. For years, software has come with features that can reduce hours of tedious, mundane work down to the time it takes you to blink. But, unfortunately, few people seek training and companies cut it first during tight times.

Without realizing it, you may have continued to work as you always have, never considering there might be a better way. Stop long enough to think about this and work to streamline and document everything, step by logical step. If you and your employees start to work like this, you’ll have sufficient time to get everything done.

PEACE.

My Gadgets (DYMO and Cardscan) and Some Software Will and Will Not Work With My New 64-bit Laptop

I love my brand new Hewlett-Packard laptop with Windows 7, and just about have it loaded up with all my stuff. But a word of caution. New laptops have 64-bit operating systems as opposed to 32-bit (which means your computer can process more bits of information at once). That means your gadgets and software might work and they might not, and you won’t know until you try.

Software I’ve had forever that’s a laughable version to the people who use it a lot (such as version 2.0 of Photoshop Elements) works fine. But my business card scanner (that’s older than version 8) and my DYMO postage and label printer will have to be re-bought.

I’m the most distraught about Adobe Acrobat. I have version 7. I can open a PDF and edit it, add more pages, etc. But I can’t create one by printing to the Distiller. I normally use Adobe Acrobat every day and am dreading having to upgrade when I really don’t need anymore features than I was already using.

There are no drivers for any of this, and it didn’t work trying to use them in the compatibility mode Windows offers. It was time for a new laptop, and I’d budgeted for it. But I wasn’t prepared for buying more gadgets and software though, but I guess I will. Good thing to do anyway before year-end (for tax purposes).

PEACE.