Efficiency is all about working smarter – completing tasks correctly while making the best use of available resources. Work smarter and businesses and individuals can save time, money and a whole lot of frustration. By cutting out unnecessary tasks and simplifying solutions to everyday problems, we can all make life a little easier for ourselves and our colleagues, giving us extra energy and resources for other things.
Lots of factors can negatively impact how efficient you or your team are. Individual working habits, technical failings and outdated systems can all use up valuable minutes in the working day. In this article, we outline how to improve efficiency with software. From streamlining time management and invoicing procedures to keeping everyone free from distractions while working from home, dedicated software can offer long-lasting solutions to all kinds of time-consuming problems in the workplace.
Over ¼ of every working day is spent on admin.
A survey by OnePoll on efficiency at work analysed the typical working day of 5,000 people. The study found that around 26% of an employee’s day was wasted on avoidable administration jobs and outdated systems.
On average, each person wasted:
42 minutes on needless administrative tasks.
26 minutes using outdated technology.
According to a Webexpenses survey, over a year, carrying out ‘pointless tasks’ amounts to 15 weeks of employee’s time. High among the list of time-consuming tasks measured were email inbox management, processing invoices and unnecessary meetings.
However, poor efficiency has impacts far beyond eating into company time. Inefficient processes have a ripple effect on office morale and productivity, as employees dealing with slow systems become increasingly frustrated and demoralised. Customer-facing companies have the added concern that long-winded, manual methods can leave clients unanswered and delayed. This can damage business reputation and compound the financial effects of inefficiency.
Micro-efficiencies can help you achieve peak productivity by looking after the seconds. While the seconds saved may not appear to provide you with big rewards right away, as they accumulate over time, it adds up to hours.
An obvious but often overlooked time-saving solution is improving internet speed. The seconds spent waiting for a page to load or an attachment to send don’t seem significant in isolation, but over a month it adds up to hours of wasted time. Not to mention the frustration it’s causing your employees when a simple task becomes a tedious chore. This is especially important if you have a large team with lots of devices connected to the web. Give your team their time back by upgrading your internet.
Software solutions are the easiest to implement. Often cheap and quick to install, you can start saving time straight away. We’ve found some of the best software to address frequent time-consuming tasks. From producing invoices to managing your email inbox or reducing digital distractions, there are tools to help.
Before you decide what efficiencies to make, analysing where time is being wasted is a logical place to start. Rescue Time runs in the background requiring no manual entry, leaving you free to work as usual while it automatically observes how you spend your time. It provides valuable insights, tracking how you spend your time on apps, websites and even specific projects. At the end of each working day, you can look through your productivity reports for data on where you are losing time and what tasks are taking the longest.
If you find that you or your colleagues are getting stuck on admin tasks that aren’t pertinent to your actual role, such as filling in timekeeping spreadsheets, then you can implement targeted software solutions to mitigate this. When social media is the biggest distraction, Rescue Time can do more than just measure. The distraction blocker feature can block social, news and entertainment sites so that you can regain your focus.
Once you know where you can improve, Rescue Time has a scheduling tool to help you better manage your time. You can set goals and alerts for how to ideally spend your day and receive nudges when you go over or meet your goals.
Crono is the perfect business companion for tracking time spent and sending invoices. With a simple user interface that requires little to no onboarding, Crono lets you easily create timesheets. Assign tasks to employees so that they can simply input the time spent, then submit for approval. You can keep track of how long tasks are taking and which team members are the most efficient. Timesheets can be approved or rejected, and you can add comments outlining why. Tasks can be assigned to individual employees as well as organised into projects, giving you a great overview of what everyone is working on.
You can create professional invoices complete with your company logo in seconds. Choose your client, select the jobs you are charging for and Crono will work out the costs for you based on timesheet data and the hourly rate you set. Invoices can be marked as paid or pending so you can keep track of your finances within the app.
If you’re looking for a specific timesheet, you can quickly pull it up with Crono’s Sticky Filters. Search by name, date, accepted or declined to find what you’re looking for in seconds. You can continue to navigate around the app as the Sticky Filters will stay applied until you switch them off.
Tracking time and sending invoices are important tasks for many companies. Use Crono to simplify and speed up both.
With ample distractions both at the office and when working from home, timer apps provide the structure and discipline to maintain focus. Including frequent, short breaks keep employees motivated and provides a much-needed opportunity for time away from the screen.
The Pomodoro technique is based on a 25-minute working block, followed by a 5-minute break. This is usually repeated 4 times before taking a longer break. The relatively short time blocks encourage you to focus on completing smaller tasks quickly or break larger projects into manageable chunks. Once you have been using the technique for some time, you will notice improved productivity and concentration during each 25-minute section.
The PomoDone App keeps track of your daily workflow with the Pomodoro technique and can be integrated with your current task management service. In just 3 minutes you can set the app up to run alongside Asana, Trello, Slack, Outlook and more.
Whether the hours are all merging into one or you can’t keep your eyes on the screen, an app that is your virtual timekeeper can help you manage your day.
Tables of data contain all kinds of useful conclusions, but to communicate these to others requires graphics and charts that are easy to absorb. Creating a powerful presentation that engagingly outlines results can take longer to produce than the data collection itself. With Power-User software, you will no longer need to agonise over charts, graphs, and pivot tables.
Power-User provides you with infographics and visual aids that elevate your business presentations and take only minutes to create. The software is compatible with Excel, PowerPoint and Word. Features include 500 PowerPoint presentation templates, Waterfall, Gantt and Sankey charts and dynamic diagrams.
Work emails can sometimes feel like an untamable beast; before you’ve dealt with one issue the next one has arrived and the notifications keep on coming. Aiming for Inbox Zero seems like an impossible task. Spark intelligently prioritises your emails into people, notifications and newsletters. When you need to get work done, Spark reduces noise interference by only notifying you of emails from people you know.
If you want to focus on replying to your emails all in one go but know it’s not the ideal time to hit send, you can schedule emails to send when they are most likely to be read. To make sure you reply to those all-important messages you receive, you can set yourself a reminder to do it at a time that suits you. For emails that you send frequently, create and save templates that you can quickly retrieve when you need.
With Spark Teams you can quickly create emails collaboratively with a real-time ‘Compose Editor’. Teams can privately discuss emails and threads using the comments feature, an efficient way to solve any issues and perfect for fast-paced, client-facing industries.
Figuring out how to improve efficiency in the workplace is an ongoing task that requires a big-thinking approach. Some of the software apps we have linked to here are a great help for improving individuals’ discipline and focus. But, to see broad, company-wide improvements, first, analyse where time is being spent to highlight areas to focus on. For better email management, try Spark, or if long-winded administrative tasks are eating into everyone’s working day, use software solutions such as Crono.
This article was created for Crono with Ingeniums.