It’s not how productive you are, it’s how productive you want to be. I was reading an article from The Guardian recently about productivity and how the French are killing it in comparison to us over here. We’re working longer hours, taking less holidays and apparently we’re less productive too.
At this point I have to quote a French proverb, “if working hard made you rich, donkeys would be covered in gold”. Isn’t that the truth!
I’m not going to go on to quote the national statistics on how useless we are, we’re miserable enough as it is. Kidding. But seriously, we’d rather take on you a little tour inside Sixth Story and show you some of the tools we use to make our lives more productive and help us communicate better.
We believe, if you have your business processes mapped out you can identify points of weakness and utilise technology to make improvements. We’re not perfect but then again we aim for progress, not perfection!
Time sucks, they are everywhere!
Before we get into it, I want to share one of my favourite things in the office. Our office meeting rules… my favourite rule is, ‘do we really need to meet?’ Often something can be resolved by a quick email or phone call and doesn’t require a meeting (which can be quite disruptive during a day). My pet hate is having meetings about meetings. Knock those sort of meetings on the head and implement rules to stamp out bad habits and meeting cultures.
There are so many plates spinning, how do you keep track?
We’re a small team and we have many projects running concurrently. How do we manage that? This is the first road block and for many years, it was a challenge as we went through peaks and troughs and when it rains it pours. You know what I’m saying. So this is how we keep those plates spinning…
Every Monday morning is a production meeting (that’s right a meeting). As a team, we come together and we go through a set agenda.
• Project updates so everyone knows where we are.
• Time requirements, deadlines and scheduling.
• Pipeline and work coming in to build in contingencies.
At times when we are busier than normal we run midweek stand up meetings where we get an overview of everything and we can see if anyone needs help or we need to chase our lovely clients for bits and bobs. This helps us foresee any bottlenecks and keep on top of things.
Production is all managed through a single board with nice drag and drop features for prioritising and so on (sorry it’s a digital board, no whiteboards in site over here). Everyone has access to it and we use it for daily task management too. The platform we use in-house is called Trello, it’s free so check it out.
What’s next? Communication is key and we’re advocates of Google apps for business. We have our email accounts with this, calendars and docs which are all super useful tools. I don’t need to introduce Google any further but check out Google apps for business, it’s a game changer.
For internal comms, we have a great little app called Slack. Quite simply it’s a messaging app for teams. The absolutely beautiful thing about it is that all all the other tools and platforms we use from Trello to Bitbucket (for managing web development), our calendars, file sharing from DropBox is all seamlessly integrated with Slack. Whether I’m in the office, at a meeting or out getting coffee, I have a finger on the pulse and can reach the team instantly. It shows when tasks are completed or we push development progress to a project. Plus we can send each other animated gifs and emoticons because, well we’re not robots!
For external comms and project management, we use Basecamp. A web-based tool that helps us keep everything in one place. Gone are the days of 300 emails during a project, things going missing and slipping through the net. It truly supports our working ethos of collaborating with clients and ensuring that we’re all on the same team. The best thing about it, is that it’s so simple! And you can search conversations and files. We couldn’t live without it! Check it out www.basecamp.com
And lastly (for this blog anyway), we use time tracking software too. This has always been a bug bear and a difficult thing to manage in any agency but the benefits of tracking time far out weigh the headache of it. We’ve started using Toggl for time keeping, from the web-based application to the desktop timer and mobile app it’s incredibly easy to keep on top it and Toggl never lets you forget to start your timer… Whether you open a card on Trello or a Google doc, there it is reminding you to start your timer! Just brilliant.
There are great tools out there to help you manage business processes more efficiently. More than anything my favourite quote is from Dale Carnegie who said, “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.”
Now what are you doing still reading this blog, go be productive somewhere else! Before you go, here’s our meeting rules…
1. Do we really need to meet?
2. Schedule a start, not an end to your meeting – its over when its over, even if that is just 5 minutes
3. Be on time!
4. No multi-tasking… no device usage unless absolutely necessary for meeting
5. If you’re not getting anything out of the meeting, leave or end it
6. Meetings are not for information sharing – that should be done before hand via email and/or agenda… including clear objectives
7. Who really needs to be at this meeting?
8. Agree actions at the end of the meeting. Goals and who is responsible should be clear as day
9. Don’t feel bad about calling people out on any of the above; it’s the right thing to do
10. Follow up and do what we say. Make sure meeting notes are distributed within 24 hours