Ecommerce owners and managers seek improved productivity. Whether you’re looking to scale your business faster, launch new features, or streamline your operations, here are five productivity tips that I practice when running my businesses.
Eat your Frog Early
When you arrive in the office every morning, do you dive right into your biggest task or do you get the minor stuff out of the way first? Author and personal development coach Brian Tracy says that the former is more effective in terms of productivity.
In his book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, Tracy cited a famous Mark Twain quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
He used frog eating as a metaphor for task completion, in which the frog “is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.” Finish that task as early as possible, and you can spend the rest of the day knowing that you’ve accomplished a big goal.
Resist the urge to complete smaller jobs first. Doing so will only feed your procrastination and won’t take you any further towards completing your big tasks.
When deciding on what to prioritize in your business, always put your highest-impact goals at the top of your to-do list. What step can you take today that will have the biggest effect on your company? Start with that, and either delegate or hold-off on the low-level tasks. This tough to do. It is something I have to remind myself everyday.
Have a Meeting Policy
If you must hold meetings in your company, keep them brief. Always have an agenda and a clear purpose for the meeting so that no one asks, “What are we talking about today?”
You may also want to consider having company-wide policies that tell people when and how to set-up meetings. Some companies for example, always hold meetings on the same day and time each week — e.g., Monday mornings, Thursday afternoons. This schedule enables people to plan their days and weeks more effectively.
Optimize your Relationships with Vendors
You optimize your site for speed and user-friendliness. Why not do the same for your suppliers and service providers?
Check with your vendors to ensure you’re working efficiently. Ask if there’s anything you can do to make their jobs easier, or recommend any improvements that they can implement. Don’t view your relationship as a service provider and client. Instead, treat your vendors as your partners.
Take a cue from ecommerce photo digitation service ScanMyPhotos.com. According to president and CEO Mitch Goldstone, working closely with his vendors helped to increase efficiency and improve relationships. “To enhance our workflow, create better solutions, and constantly innovate, we invite our vendors to think of us as a partner. After all, the better we do, the better they do.”
ScanMyPhotos.com did that with the United States Postal Service. According to Goldstone, he invited the USPS to visit ScanMyPhotos.com’s corporate headquarters in Irvine, Calif. “We asked them to study our entire shipping operation and the technology that drives our fulfillment services. Many, many elements that we thought helped streamline the business were wrong. The USPS marketing team became our best partner to reinvent everything.”
Follow the 80-20 Rule
Developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, the 80-20 rule states that for many situations, about 80 percent of the effects or outcomes come from just 20 percent of the causes. Pareto came up with it when he noticed that about 80 percent of Italy’s land was owned by 20 percent of the population.
In business, the 80-20 rule comes into play when 80 percent of a company’s clients are generated from 20 percent of its sales staff, or when 80 percent of returns come from 20 percent of its customers.
Determine how the 80-20 principle applies to your business, then address that 20 percent so you can generate more results, or eliminate problems.
For instance, if you discover that 80 percent of your profits come from 20 percent of your customers, then nurture your relationships with those customers and reward them for their loyalty. Or perhaps you notice that 20 percent of your online marketing efforts are bringing in 80 percent of your site traffic. Stop spending resources on the low-performing strategies, and focus your efforts on the channels that work.
A messy workplace is annoying, distracting, and can get out of hand if you let it. Keep clutter at bay by regularly tidying up.
Clutter can also exist inside the mind. In the same way that having piles of paper on your desk can keep you from finding a pen, having too many thoughts can curb your focus.