As part of our series on Productivity we’ve interviewed Greg Gortz to quiz him about his own personal productivity challenges, how he handles them and the tools he uses day to day to help.
Meetings are often cited as being unproductive – whether that’s because they run on too long, are unfocused, fail to result in action (the list is endless!). Please share your experiences and your tips for keeping meetings productive.
I try to approach meetings with a specific goal in mind. "This is what we want to accomplish."
Be respectful of everyone's time. Make sure there is a hard stop and stick to it. If you get caught in the minutiae and details, a good phrase that I will use often is "I want to be mindful of everyone's time" and move on. People will respect that. I always end the meeting with take aways and action points, so things that were covered are not lost moving forward.
How do you manage your own personal workload?
I think part of it is knowing yourself. Knowing when you are most and least productive and taking advantage of those times. My brain works great in the morning and less so in the late afternoon. I try to power through as much work as possible in the mornings.
The other piece of advice is to learn to say "no" to things. Whether they are requests from colleagues or industry requests, sometimes you just need to decline. Ask yourself, will attending this event/doing this task/meeting this person help move the company forward? If the answer is no, then don't do it.
How do you keep track of what your team are working on?
This is tricky, because you want to know what is happening but you don't want to smother your team. Once a week meetings to catch up on the week works for me. If progress is not being made, then I’ll ask for more frequent updates.
How do you manage collaboration between your employees? Are there any tools or apps you’d recommend?
Yes! Trello is great for project management. We use it heavily at Zemanta. Specifically between sales and production. I highly recommend it. We also use Google Docs for day to day sharing of files and Dropbox for large file sharing.
How often do you check email a day? Do you have a system for managing your inbox?
I am constantly checking email... I have been trying to embrace the "inbox zero" policy without much luck. I could be better at email efficiency.
What are your tips for working efficiently when you’re away from the office?
- Make sure everything you need can be accessed from your laptop/mobile device.
- Reply to emails offline and send when you are back online.
- If you don't have wi-fi, turn off your wi-fi search and save battery life so you can work longer.
- Set your out of office, if you will not be reachable. Give contacts of employees who can help while you are away - so you are not loaded up with tasks when you return.
Your top productivity tip
If you had to give one tip to small companies looking to grow and improve their output, what would it be?
Let go and have faith in the people you hired to get things done. You can't do it all yourself and if you try you will burn out. I wrote about this recently http://greggortz.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/letting-go-delegating-responsibility-as-your-startup-scales/
What ROI have you seen on your efforts to improve productivity within your company?
From a development standpoint, we embraced Sprint planning and have seen our progress increase significantly. Some background information on Sprint planning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrum_(development).
Communication between sales and development team jumped after applying Trello as a project management tool. We are faster at implementing and trouble-shooting campaigns.