The Workflow Tweak That Can Boost Your Productivity by 25 Percent

You can increase your productivity by being able to do more in less time.

By Kumar Rajan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We all like passive income. Income you accrue without having to work. To generate passive income, you need to make investments and take risks. For instance, if you want to earn passive income from stock dividends, you have to invest in purchasing the stock. You also have to take the risk of losing money if the stock drops in price. You can, however, earn a productivity dividend without having to invest or take risks. Here's how:

How to increase productivity

You increase your productivity by being able to do more in less time. To do this, you have to either learn new skills or invest in tools and technology. Let's take the simple example of delivering mail. You can deliver mail by walking from house to house in a neighborhood. You can also deliver mail much faster and to more houses if you drove a mail truck through the same neighborhood. You will have to learn to drive and you will have to be provided a truck to increase your productivity.

Related: 3 New Productivity Tools That Can Automate Your Workday

Role of communications in increasing productivity

Effective communications have been identified as a key factor in increasing the productivity of office workers. A recent study shows that effective communication leads to improvements in productivity as much as 25% when employees feel engaged with their work and connected with their co-workers. The faster you can communicate with your co-workers, the faster you will get things done.

For a long time, people used to communicate primarily by phone and then by email. Documents were shared as attachments to emails. Then Slack came along and popularized chat. They reasoned that instead of wasting time digging through email chains for internal communications, why not use chat. Chat is faster and simpler than emailing and waiting for a reply. As expected, productivity went up and Slack has become a popular office communication tool.

But emails have not gone away. Communications with customers and vendors still occur via email. This has led to information silos. Chats, emails, and documents each have pieces of information related to the same topic. To find information people are relying more and more on search tools. But searching is not easy when information is scattered across many apps. If information is better organized, and related communications connected, even across multiple communication channels, there is no need to search. According to Interact Source, 19.8 % of business time – the equivalent of one day per working week – is wasted by employees searching for information to do their job effectively. IDC data shows that "the knowledge worker spends about 2.5 hours per day, or roughly 30% of the workday, searching for information."

Natural organization for the technically challenged

Not everyone is naturally organized. For many, getting organized is time-consuming and several times over stressful. It is easier for them to go with the flow and simply tackle work as it comes. Inevitably things get messy. Files get misplaced, documents get lost, information gets scattered in multiple emails, chats, and various other file-holders. This leads to the problem of search.

Silicon Valley has come up with creative tools to solve this problem. But they are designed for technically savvy users. Most small businesses are not so technically adept. They are comfortable working with browser-based emails (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) and desktop folders to organize information. Such users may see the value of using chat for internal communications, especially when teams are working remote. But they don't know how to keep all of this information organized – chats, emails, documents and perhaps to-dos and social feeds among others. Desktop folders don't lend themselves to be used as organization tools for internet-based information.

Topic folders on the web

The time has come for a new type of folder. A folder that can seamlessly organize communications from any source. Imagine being able to naturally go from an email from a customer to a chat with a colleague, then sharing a document with the whole team and gathering their feedback before responding to the customer. What if all these related communications are automatically connected and stored in a folder on the web that can be uniquely named by the topic of the communication.

Related: Don't Multitask. Get Better at Task Switching.

Productivity dividend

A tool that can capture the relationships between disparate communications and automatically store them in uniquely named folders will significantly drive up productivity. There will be no wasted time searching, and no need to change the way you work. Simply process emails, chats, and documents like you always do and voila, they are all organized!

In these days of freemium SaaS tools, such a web-based tool can be adopted without any cost or risk. You just accrue the productivity dividend.

Related: 10 Free Marketing Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

Kumar Rajan

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

CEO/CTO of CCE Technologies Inc.

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