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At a recent Board meeting, the CEO of one of my beloved clients introduced me to her Board of Directors as an “efficiency hound”.  I took that as a compliment.   Sharing with you my secrets on how to be an efficiency hound seems like an appropriate first blog entry for the new year.

When working with small enterprises, creating efficiencies does not mean cutting staff and programs but rather maximizing the energy, return and value from existing staff and investments so that you can create additional resources to continue to invest in your future. 

How do you do this?  Here are some tips that I practice and leverage each and every day:

1 – MATCH TALENT AND SKILL TO PAY.  Review the job descriptions and tasks of your staff ensuring that they are performing duties that make the best use of their talents.  Often in small business environments, there is a mentality that everyone needs to do everything.  Even though there is some truth to that, you want to make sure that your employees are spending the majority of their time utilizing their gifts and talents in order to create value for the enterprise.  It is also important to make sure that your higher paid employees are spending their time appropriately.  I have encountered many situations in which highly skilled staff are taking care of administrative duties rather than utilizing their specialized skills. 

2 –DO AWAY WITH THOSE TO DO LISTS. Like many of us, I used to make long to do lists.  I never found these lists to be useful.  In fact, looking at them stressed me out which reduced my productivity.  Instead, I utilize my calendar and realistically mark what is achievable each day.  The items that I cannot get to, I schedule for another day or later in the month. This allows me to have a longer-term view of what I can realistically accomplish within necessary timeframes.  Also, items that can be completed quickly, like returning a phone call, sending an email, filling out a form, I take care of right away rather than adding it as something to do in the future.

3 – PRACTICE SELF-AWARENESS.  Most of us today have job functions that include many variable activities that utilize different energy levels and mental states.  Be in touch with yourself to know what you can effectively knock out today based on your energy level and mood state.  If I have a tough negotiation to do, I often schedule that after a morning of exercise as I am typically feeling strong and confident after a vigorous workout.  As the day drags on and I start feeling overwhelmed by all that there is left to do, I recognize that I am tired and shift to the low hanging fruit of what can be accomplished before the end of the work day.  Accept that your productivity is greatest when you are rested and relaxed.

I wish you a highly efficient 2016!