How To Become More Productive With Less

Even before we recognized there was a Great Recession in the last decade, companies were watching their bottom lines and pulling their belts tighter. So was Government, whose major means of reducing costs is personnel-related, meaning reorganization, layoffs and leaving vacancies open longer. This provides challenges, especially in an operation with one or two employees charged with performing the tasks that keep wheels turning and customers satisfied.

Generally these are dedicated employees, aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives and motivated to make a difference in work and in life. Entities owe it to these champions to enable them to accomplish the tasks at hand and to provide tools and opportunities to keep them engaged and motivated to do their job well.

As resources recede, productivity is expected to stay level or even increase. Doing more with less is a formula for stress. Perhaps instead it’s time to let go of things and do less with less.

Identify priorities: When time is tightest, applying the 80/20 rule can help you decide priorities. Simply stated, to focus on the 20 per cent of tasks that achieve 80 per cent of the results – the 20% of what’s important in a task or project. For the bigger picture, involve management to be sure you both understand the major, key tasks that must be accomplished, and be sure these are evaluated to ascertain best practices. Know what results are required and when they should be achieved. Optimal Customer Service is always the highest priority, and it is a product of a multitude of tasks. In Utility Billing, we provide a sample Billing Calendar that schedules the task sequence based on a monthly cycle.

Understand exactly the scope of each task: Know the limits of your authority in task completion and decision making so you needn’t hesitate to do what is required of you without guessing or fearing repercussions. Understanding expectations and having quick access to policy and regulatory documents enable you to respond effectively when a situation arises. Some of us rely on hard copies of documents kept within arm’s reach. Others prefer electronic file storage. Decide what works better for you and your customers and be sure you have access to the most current information. Black Mountain Software emails a newsletter monthly that features what’s new afield and with our software.

Embrace change: Evaluate your work processes to be sure the right tools and timing are applied. Routines are a source of comfort in their sameness and regularity, but they too need occasional revision. Reduce extra steps in processes that have adapted over time. If a task or process feels awkward or doesn’t seem logical, challenge and analyze it. BMS Online Help is your User’s Manual and resource for updated procedures. Live UB Support is ready to help and just a phone call away.

Identify distractions: Work with your supervisor to set specific times of day to interact with colleagues and answer email, or conversely, designate times when you are free to focus exclusively on projects and catch-up. Plan around anticipated busy times for certain tasks that require focus. Handle mail and other documents only once, and dispatch the rejects. If possible, schedule and limit your email visits. Unsubscribe to unnecessary publications and correspondences, or set them aside until a quiet time. Remember what life was like before you had a smartphone? Time is one variable you may be able to work with. In UB there is a Task Manager under Admin> UB Tasks that can help you organize as well as Report Wizard through which a series of frequently accessed reports can be called upon. Check BMS Online Help for Actions> Wizards> Report Wizard.

Seek and practice effective communication: In the workplace, communication needs to be simple and clear. It needs to inspire action, and often it needs to be repetitive. It should aim to reduce the number of calls coming in and not generate inquiries. Do take adequate time to review your message before delivering it, and then make sure it was received and understood. Craft the written word with care, as it is open to a range of interpretation unlike a direct, face to face exchange. Comments entered in UB Accounts Maintenance should be dated and concisely worded so when you read them months later they still inform you as intended.

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