Productivity

How to Streamline a Video Meeting and Improve Productivity

There are many people who have an aversion to the dreaded business meeting, and honestly, it’s hard to blame them, considering how most of these discussions go on a daily basis. Oftentimes, these get-togethers begin fine, but end up devolving into absolutely unstructured conversations that lead to nowhere fast.

Plus, they cost tons of money: nearly $ 37 billion per year, according to statistics cited by The Muse.

This can happen to any meeting, whether held in-person or online. But if you let things stay the way they are, you may never be able to accomplish anything by the end of the meeting. Do not let this scenario happen to you.

Learn how to create an effective agenda so that all of your professional conversations will be more productive. In this article, we will teach you a few tips and tricks on how to streamline your video meeting.

Write Your Agenda Early

You should write up your meeting agenda at least three days in advance in order to give yourself—and your attendees—enough time to prepare for the actual discussion.

Figure Out the Start Time

No conversation can happen without even knowing this essential information. Make sure to indicate what time you want the conference to begin. If you are meeting with other people from different time zones, you should make sure to indicate what time that would be in their area.

But make sure to pick a time that works for everybody, as nobody appreciates having to stay up at three o’clock in the morning for a business discussion.

Specify Who Should Attend

Do not just send out a general invite expecting anybody and everybody to come to your conference. Odds are high that some people may even ignore your invitation, thinking that they are not essential to the conversation.

In any case, determine who are the most important people who should join the conversation. Usually, these are the people in your organization who have the power to make and finalize decisions. Do not invite the whole department if a single representative is enough to get the job done.

Prepare the Meeting Link

If you are using trusty video meeting software, then you should have the ability to send out invites that already contain the link to the virtual chat room you will be using.

That spares you the inconvenience of having to send out each link to each individual attendee, which can let you save time for more important tasks. Make sure that the link is secured with a password and can only be accessed by the people you have specifically invited. You do not want any eyes or ears prying on your confidential meeting, now, do you?

Set the Meeting Objective

Get at the heart of why you are even gathering people in the first place. What is the main goal that you want to achieve after the meeting is over? Try to write it down on no more than one sentence. If you are really having trouble condensing your objective, then use two sentences at most.

Once you have figured out what you want to accomplish, you can then list down the topics that you want to discuss during the conference. Make sure to list them in order, from the most significant topics to the least important details. To make sure you do not go over time, try to limit your topic list to just five items.

Set a Time Limit Per Topic

As much as you may want to allow people to talk freely about all of the topics at hand, you might end up stuck in a two or three hour meeting if you do so. To prevent this from happening, make sure to allot a specific amount of time to discuss each topic.

At the same time, make sure that you are not just setting your meeting to last 30 minutes or an hour when it can actually be accomplished in just 15 minutes. Check your topic list, and let that guide you as to whether or not you need tons of time or just a few minutes of everybody’s time.

Make Sure to Send Helpful Additional Info

For instance, are you expecting certain people to bring specific data to the conference for everybody’s perusal? Even better, why not have that person send the data three days in advance as well? That should give everybody enough time to read things through.

If you expect somebody to take down minutes of the meeting, make sure to say so in your email. Otherwise, you might be surprised to find that nobody had been taking down any notes at all after the discussion is done.

You can even go one step further and treat it like a script, with each topic assigned to specific people, according to Effective Meetings.

Once you start creating agendas using these tips, you will find that your conferences will start running so much more smoothly and effectively. You will never want to go back to the old ways of conducting meetings ever again.


Onextrapixel – Web Design and Development Online Magazine

4 Design-Inspired Steps to Increase Your Productivity

If you’re like me, you know the feeling of impending deadlines and growing task lists when completely frozen by a creative roadblock. Hopefully you work well under pressure, but oftentimes an increasing to-do list and endless work demands can make you lose sight of your goals and decrease productivity levels.

The good news? As designers, we already have good guidelines learned from the realm of design that can help us stay productive when we’re having trouble staying motivated. Below are four tips, inspired by rules for good design, that you can use to keep productivity high when struggling to focus and produce great work.

1. Motivation through passion

Good design should evoke strong emotion and create inspirational experiences that motivate users. Eliciting feelings is also a good rule to think about as you are designing your work day. What are the projects you are most passionate about; those that you look forward to working on? While you might be tempted to do all of the fun stuff as soon as possible, I find that leaving some of the more exciting work for later, or even better – weaving projects that require passion and creativity into more mundane daily tasks can boost productivity and output throughout the day.

A simple solution for some quick motivation: music! Nothing will stir up some emotion better than a great playlist. Cue up a favorite track or two and rock out before you start working. You’ll get a nice boost in heart rate and endorphins, and the session will power you through the first phase of your day, keeping you excited and motivated to produce great work.

2. Find focus

Every designer knows that elegant simplicity can be the key to great design. We design to keep the user focused on the journey, so in the same vein, eliminate all external distractions and get in the zone. For 40-45 minutes, turn off your email. Let your colleagues know beforehand where they can find you for emergencies. But I’m willing to bet there’s a 98 percent chance that that email can wait.

Find focus

Image credit: 123rf

Set yourself some boundaries that require you to focus your concentration on the task at hand. If you’re a procrastinator, Google Chrome’s StayFocusd extension allows you to track your time spent on specific websites. Set any chat programs to “do not disturb” so you don’t get distracting pings while you’re hard at work.

If I’m working late at night, I use the program f.lux, which changes the color temperature of the monitor so it’s less strenuous on the eyes. There are plenty of tools available to help you focus on the task at hand — just be willing to try something new.

3. Don’t accept the default

Far too many people accept the status quo and use default templates and materials when designing. Those are great if you’re pressed for time and resources, but don’t settle. The same principle applies for your workspace: be bold and take risks. If you need that extra push, change your location often – a new room will have different colors and décor that can give new perspective and meaning to your designs. You can relocate to a coffee shop or a friend’s house as well if you’re looking to shake up your workspace.

If you can’t get away, try a productivity-boosting white noise solution like Coffitivity. This app recreates the sounds of a coffee shop to help you work better and keep productivity levels high – challenging your default state of mind.

4. Organization is not optional

Be prepared. Organization is essential to a beautiful layout, and it’s also crucial to master before you even get started designing.

Organization is not optional

Image credit: 123rf

Work methodically – get those stock photos and download those fonts so you’ll have everything you need before you start on the project. Once you have all necessary materials, you won’t be distracted by pop-up ads or social media sites while you’re searching for another resource. This will allow you to finish your project with minimal distractions along the way and stay organized throughout the process.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter how great a designer you are if you never get anything done. These tips, using some very basic concepts of good design, have helped me immensely in my workflow and are useful for any designer looking to boost productivity. With the advice above, and a little ingenuity, you can master the creative design process and watch your productivity levels soar.

How do you increase your productivity level as a designer? What tools or processes do you use or adopt. Share with us in the comments below.


Onextrapixel – Web Design and Development Online Magazine

Secret Productivity Tip That Transformed My Business

Productivity tipDo you have lot’s of ideas? Do you end up doing loads of things? Do you then burn out and wonder what has gone wrong?

Me too.

How great would it feel if we had a productivity tip that turned thoughts into actions and gave you clarity on why you were so busy?

You need two words to add to each idea, to each task in your busy working day…just two little words that transform a thought, a task into something that will drive value.

Ready for the two words? Ready for a simple productivity tip to bring more clarity and focus to what you do?

Just add “so that” to any sentence.

Those two little words are so powerful. Just 6 letters that add focus and act like a test to your thinking.

You see as an entrepreneur you have to work hard not being pulled from pillar to post, these two little words bring focus and clarity to everything you do. They also bring focus to those around you, too!

Give it a try…make an action list and add “so that” to the end of sentence….then write down the reason why you have to invest your precious time in doing that task.

It works for you. It works when you ask the team around you to think about what they are doing. It works when you struggle to understand the ‘why’ of your business, it works when you think about those two little words before writing on the social web.

Try it, let me know whether it works for you!

The Engaging Brand

How Weather Affects Your Productivity

Autumn Office photo from ShutterstockEmployee productivity is one of the most critical factors for a business to be successful and profitable. Employers want their employees to complete the maximum amount of work in the minimum amount of time in order to make more money in less time. However, there are many elements which affect employee productivity and weather is one of them.

Weather creates different moods in different people. It is very hard to tell if one is going to be more productive on rainy or sunny weather. However, you can look at both sides of the story and meet at an optimum point.

Rainy Days: Rainy days are usually gloomy and gloomy weather has generally a negative impact on mood. As a result, some people may be less productive on rainy days. Usually on these days, employees tend to come to the office later due to the traffic caused by the rain and leave the office earlier to head home as earliest as they can. However, you can increase the motivation of these employees by offering them treats such as free pizza lunch at the office or afternoon pastries along with coffee. This will both cheer them up and make them feel that they are being valued. On the other hand, some employees work more on rainy weather. Since they want to stay dry, they prefer to stay inside the office. Therefore, they take shorter lunch breaks and head back to their desks quicker than they normally do.

Sunny Days: Nice weather meaning a bright and sunny day generally puts everybody in a great mood. As a result, most people become more productive during those days. The reason of this is that sunlight brings positivity to our life and thus, employees approach tasks more positively. However, very hot weather may have a negative impact on employee productivity. People feel uncomfortable when they are sweaty and cannot focus on their tasks. Also, some may be busy planning what to do after work or on the weekend during these hot summery days. Employers should be careful about keeping the office at the right temperature with an air condition. Again employers can offer treats such as an ice cream break or a summer barbeque after work hours to keep their employees more motivated.

Cold Days: This type of weather generally affects employees working in the Northeast area.  Due to harsh weather conditions, employees call in sick or don’t want to drive to the office due to snow and prefer to work from home. Also, the days are shorter and sun goes down around 4pm-5pm. Hence, when the sun goes down, employees feel the urgency to rush home and leave the office earlier. During winter days, employers can implement flexible work hours so employees can adjust themselves according to the daylight.


Personal Branding Blog – Stand Out In Your Career

Productivity Tips #1 -How to Save 30 Hours per Month

business productivity

You know the feeling. You arrive at your desk in the morning. You look at your to-do list and then your calendar…..when are you going to get some work done?

What excuse can you make for not getting the action points done? You feel stressed and annoyed that if you had a clear calendar then you may actually get something done.

Imagine if you had an extra 31 hours per month to do rather than talk, to think rather than hear excuses – wouldn’t that feel great. Well here are my #1 productivity tips for business.

Did you know that on average people spend 31 hours per month in meetings!

31 hours!….just think about the investment we are all making in meetings.

So let me ask this….

Do you think you get a high return on that time investment?

No, didn’t think so.

The irony is that business have meetings about how social media is a time wasting activity!

Here are my best productivity tips for getting a high return from of every business meeting.

  1. Start on time. Period. If people are not there, start. Waiting for people, wastes the time of everybody who has created the time to attend.
  2. Do not recap when latecomers arrive. Continue on. The feeling of being ‘out of the loop’ will ensure better timekeeping in the future!
  3. Make meetings short. Action focused. Meetings should be about discussion and decisions. Explanations should be prepared ahead of time for people to read. Meetings are to bring people together to discuss and decide ONLY.
  4. Finish the meeting on time – or early if possible.

It sounds harsh but time is your critical resource. Time is a scarce resource and you need to protect time so that it is invested in the right areas.

Some of the best meetings are ad hoc. Often you can bring people together quickly – gather people around for a huddle and move on.

Now……what to do with those spare hours that you have from clearing your working calendar?

  • Conversations. Conversations. Conversations. Conversations are where engagement is created. Create time to talk to people. Time to discuss, explain, deal with issues, highlight potential issues, trends, internal politics.
  • Conversations. Conversations. Conversations. Didn’t I just say that? Ah yes, but these conversations are even more critical. These are with the people who pay your wages…not your bosses….your customers. It doesn’t matter which function you are in you need to understand the customer experience, industry trends, competitor moves. As Finance Director I would speak to 3-4 customers each week about how we could simplify dealing with us, what they needed to help their customer experience.
  • Conversations. Conversations. Conversations. Haven’t we covered everything? No. We need conversations with ourselves. We need to continually learn. We need to digest what we are learning from the other two types of business conversations. We need to assess what is working, what needs to improve, opportunities that we could exploit and most of all where the obstacles to business growth are within the business.
  • Plan, Explain, Decide, Act. We all have conversations but success in business is about turning those conversations into actions. Actions that are measured and reviewed. Spend time at the end of each day – thinking….what do I need to do tomorrow to make a difference?


 

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