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January 27th, 2016

Your heart is always there beating away 24-hours a day. This is also an apt description for your servers. They are always working, ensuring your business stays operational even if you don’t notice it. However, it’s not unusual for business owners to overlook their servers as most times it is a simple case of out of sight, out of mind. This is a dangerous way of thinking because once your servers go down, you will start losing money and maybe even go under. Even if your servers seem to be running smoothly, do yourself a favor and consider these three questions.

When do my servers need to be replaced?

This is a difficult question to answer but there are two factors you will want to consider - age and performance. The useful life of a server tends to be around three years. After the third year, your support costs to maintain them will rise drastically. While it’s not unheard of for servers to function properly beyond year three, relying on them beyond this point can be risky as their health can’t always be guaranteed. This means you will have to deal with costly repairs and possible downtime that you can’t predict.

Performance is another factor when it comes to servers. Even if your servers are only a year old, it doesn’t make sense to keep them around until year three if they are slow and are costing a fortune to maintain. It’s important to do a cost benefit analysis in these situations and look at how much money you will lose in repairs and downtime and then compare it to the cost of buying new hardware.

Do I have an alternative to buying new servers?

Believe it or not, the answer to your server problems might not necessarily be purchasing more physical hardware. One way to avoid this is by embracing virtualization. This process allows your servers to be stored and maintained off-site with everything being delivered to your office via the internet. There are two notable benefits of virtualizing your servers. The first is that you don’t have to spend a bunch of money buying new equipment. The second is that virtualization is a scalable technology meaning you only pay for the space you use. For instance, if you only need two and a half servers, you can do that. This is in contrast to having physical equipment which would require your business to either make do with two servers or splurge and buy the third one even if you didn’t need all of that space.

Of course there are a few things you need to consider before making the switch to server virtualization. One of the biggest issues is security. You’ll have to ask yourself if you feel comfortable keeping all of your data off-site. While this isn’t a concern for some companies, others don’t see this as palatable. There are several workarounds to this issue including the hybrid option where you keep sensitive data on-site and everything else off-site.

Can I do anything to prevent a full-scale server replacement?

Yes. It’s certainly possible for you to buy some time and give your current servers additional life, but these are short term fixes, not long term solutions. Server upgrades are a good place to start if your servers are less than three years old but are degrading in performance. Adding additional CPUs or memory may increase server performance at a fraction of the cost of buying new servers.

You can also utilize old servers for non-critical workloads. It’s possible to extend the life of servers that may have four of five years of wear and tear on them via repurposing. Instead of swapping out all of your servers, use the old ones for the non-critical processes and purchase new ones to handle critical workloads. This will help you get a better ROI on your technology while avoiding a wholesale hardware purchase which could cripple your budget.

If you have any questions about your servers and how you can increase performance, get in touch with us today. We can help you procure new hardware or show you the benefits of virtualization.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 25th, 2016

2016Jan20_Security_CWhen big companies like Dropbox or Ashley Madison are hacked, the whole world hears about it. But how often do you hear about cyber attacks on the SMBs of the world? Probably not often, or never. Well, today, that’s all about to change. The NY Times recently ran an article telling the story of a small business, just like you, who suffered a major cyber attack. Here’s the story, and some ideas as to how to protect your business.

Last holiday season, Rokenbok Education, a small, California-based toy company of seven employees realized its worse nightmare. During the busiest time of the sales year, the files in their database had become unusable, infected with malware. The hackers used ransomware, a malware designed to hold a business’s data hostage, to encrypt their files and demanded a payment to make them usable again. However, instead of paying the ransom, Rokenbok restructured their key system. To do this it took four days. That’s four days of downtime, lost sales, and confused customers who likely lost confidence in the integrity of their company. Luckily this did not put Rokenbok Education out of business. But many SMBs aren’t so fortunate, and are forced to close after such a security debacle.

So why do security breaches like this happen to SMBs?

There are many reasons, but a common one is that small and medium-sized businesses often focus on profits over security. And really, it’s hard to blame them. When you’re small, you want to grow your organization as quickly as possible. And you likely think that because you’re small, no one is going to attack you. However, nowadays hackers are on to this way of thinking. They know that SMBs don’t focus as much on security, which make them a perfect target. In fact, according to Timothy C. Francis, the enterprise lead for Cyber Insurance at Travelers, 60 percent of all online attacks in 2014 targeted SMBs.

So what can your business do to protect itself against online attacks? There are a range of options, but it’s best to start off with an audit of your current security system to see where the holes are. This audit should check areas of risk which include customer data, employee access, and assets such as servers, computers and all Internet-enable devices.

After that, an obvious thing to do is to strengthen your passwords. While this has been said thousands of times over, many SMB owners do not take heed. Clay Calvert, the director of security at the Virginia-based firm MetroStar Systems, notes that hackers analyze how we create passwords and use big data analytics to crack them. “They have databases of passwords,” Calvert said. The best way to create a strong password is to make it long with a mix of characters. Password managers that encrypt your passwords can also help.

Aside from passwords, there are many other ways to boost your business’s security that include installing a firewall, keeping your antivirus up-to-date, and moving data over to the cloud (instead of storing it on company servers). Also, since many security attacks occur because an employee clicked on a malicious website or link, training your employees is a smart move. A good way to start this training is to create an employee manual that includes security guidelines they must follow. For ongoing training, you can keep them up-to-date on the latest security threats through email updates and regular meetings. Once you feel confident that your employees are up-to-speed and your security practices are updated, you can try hiring ethical hackers to test your systems and try to break through your security. This will let you know if there are any security holes you missed.

Calling in a security specialist

However, if all of this sounds far too much to bother with, consider outsourcing your security to a service provider that specializes in digital security. This can oftentimes save valuable time and money in the long run. Best of all, this can provide peace of mind, knowing that you have a security specialist watching over your business.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start with your business’s security, we’re happy to help perform a thorough audit and provide you the digital security solution you need to keep your business protected. Security worries don’t have to keep you up at night, and we can help you implement the measures that will protect your business from disastrous security problems.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 22nd, 2016

2016Jan22_BusinessIntelligence_CWhen it comes to business intelligence, you may think there’s no easier way to simplify your data than to organize it into a graph or chart. Business owners have been using this method for decades, so what else could be better than that? Well, a new product on the market is striving to make business intelligence even simpler. Here’s the scoop.

Earlier this week, the Chicago-based company, Narrative Science, integrated with the business intelligence and visualization software company, Qlik. The fruit of this integration is a new way of looking at your data beyond your standard charts and graphs. Yes, charts and graphs are still used, but now there is a new element that comes into play: story. Qlik now enables businesses to take the data on their charts and graphs and automatically turn it into a narrative that will explain the most important and relevant points of their data. These stories are presented in easily understood, natural language and can be personalized to the audience who is reading them. For example, if you want to change the format, language style or detail of the story, you can easily adjust these.

How storytelling can help with business intelligence

While charts and graphs are easy to read for people who are regularly looking at them, there can be a learning curve for those who are new to the specific set of data they’re analyzing. And when you are presenting a series of charts and graphs to a group of colleagues, it may be difficult for you to convey the data in an easily understandable way. This is why storytelling can be a vital tool with your business intelligence efforts.

Everyone can relate to a story. In fact people have been doing so since the stone age as evident by the carvings on cave walls depicting different tales. Today, all it takes is a simple click of your remote to see hundreds of different stories appear on your TV. Storytelling makes it easy to digest information for anyone. This is why both morals and ethics are often illustrated in parables or stories to convey their message. These stories that many of us heard from childhood, like the story of King Solomon who suggested cutting a living child in two to settle an argument or of King Midas and the golden touch, remain in the minds of many of us for a lifetime.

Stories stick in our brains. And they can make it easy to understand complex information, which can be especially helpful when it comes to data. This is why Qlik’s new data to story function sounds so exciting. It aims to make it easier to present data in a more user friendly way. This will hopefully save time and headaches for people trying to understand complex data. Of course, since it is so new, only time will tell what kind of impact it will have and whether or not it will live up to expectation.

Want more of the latest business intelligence news? Need help making sense out of your data, or looking for other ways new technology can help? Get in touch with our IT experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 21st, 2016

2016Jan21_BusinessValue_CWhen it comes to social media, figuring just what, if any, value it offers your business can be complicated. There is no exact science when it comes to figuring it out and even experts disagree as to just what is and is not important when measuring the value of your company's social media. The reality is that there is no tried and true method to solving this enigma, but we will offer you some advice on how you can uncomplicate the mystery.

ocial media is important for your business and it can have a great deal of value for your company if utilized correctly. Of course measuring this value is an imperfect science. While we don’t have a magic formula to help you figure it out, we do have a few things for you to consider when it comes to estimating it for yourself.

Followers matter but…

...they are not the end all be all when it comes to your social media efforts. When social media first started, it was all about how many followers you had. In the eyes of consumers, more followers equaled more credibility. However, that sentiment is no longer a prevailing thought among consumers and the number of followers you have won’t make or break your organization.

However, having a lot of followers does still reflect well on your business and it also gives you an easy way to reach your target audience directly. This is where it becomes important to monitor things like average clicks, the number of clicks the page you shared got, and conversion rate - the number of people who clicked on your share that turned into a sale or lead. If you have 100,000 followers but don’t get clicks, then your social media doesn’t hold a whole lot of value. The next point comes in handy if you’re having trouble monitoring all of these.

Simplify the way you monitor social media

A lot of businesses make a simple mistake that convolutes the way they estimate the value of social media. That mistake is failing to create unique campaigns and contact points for each social media channel. Doing this can make it difficult to determine just what leads and sales are coming from which media. Here’s an example for you. Your business shares a link on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to a page on your website where people can download a free report. You get 150 people to download which is good but it can be hard to determine just where everyone came from to download the report unless you have advanced tools like Google Analytics at your disposal.

That’s why for every promotion or pitch page on your website that you share via social media, you should create a distinct URL for each one so you can easily monitor where people are coming from. This will help you understand what kind of value each of your social media channels has. You might also want to consider creating a separate phone number for each social media channel so that way when a person does call, you will know where they came from. This option is especially easy and cost effective to implement if you have a VoIP phone system in place.

Set social media goals

Without goals in place, it’s pretty hard to figure out the value of anything including social media. If you already have social media goals established, then these are probably the place to start in determining the value of your company’s social media. If goals have not been set up, you are going to want to create some and see if your company is able to reach these. That’s because the easiest way to determine if something has business value is to establish if it can help your company reach its goals. If you see that social media isn’t doing this, then you’ll need to reconfigure your strategy accordingly. If social media is adding value, then you will want to dig deeper using different tools to get a better idea of just what that value is.

If you aren’t using social media to add value to your business, then you are losing out. And if you aren’t utilising technology to assist in these efforts then you are really falling behind. Talk to our experts today to see how you can get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 19th, 2016

Productivity_Jan19_CTelecommuting can be a great strategy that allows businesses to save money and retain valued employees. It is quickly becoming a viable option for those that are looking to cut back their hours at the office while still being able to work productively in the comfort of their home. But despite the many advantages telecommuting presents to business owners and staff, there are certain challenges to be faced and overcome. Take a look the following tips to be super productive in your home office.

One of the major concerns that business owners have when allowing people to work from home is the limited amount of control they have over their staff. Companies fear that most employees might become unproductive if they become their own boss and are responsible for managing their own hours. While it is easy for remote employees to feel disconnected from work, if you make communication a top priority, telecommuting can actually work wonders.

So have you been given the privilege to work from home? Check out the following tips to ensure a productive day.

Get dressed

It’s important not to dress too casually when working at home. That’s why wearing your pajamas while working can be counterproductive. There’s no need to choose an overly formal attire - like a suit with a tie - but at least wear something comfortable yet presentable that will help you get into a work frame of mind.

Create a focused workspace

Select a workspace that’s neither too comfortable nor uptight. The best method to get into the mindset of ‘going to work’ is to create an environment that allows you to easily focus on the tasks at hand. This can be a room with a door to keep out family members, or simply a space that’s free from all sources of distractions such as your smartphone, snacks, or the television. But in the end, it all comes down to personal preference - do you enjoy working in a clear space, or a cluttered chaos? Would background music distract you or help you concentrate? Do you like working in a bright environment, or prefer a dim area? Take these into consideration before choosing your workspace.

Plan ahead

The secret to working more productively is to have an organized plan of action. Write down the plan so you can prioritize tasks properly and schedule what needs to be done and when it must be completed. Also, it’s always helpful to know your most productive hours. This is so you can schedule your most challenging tasks during those hours and set aside easier ones in your least productive periods.

Stay away from social media

Social media is considered by many as the biggest time and productivity killer. So if your duties don’t involve managing your company’s Twitter account or responding to customers’ requests via Facebook inbox, you should steer clear from these social networking sites. There are many applications out there that allow you to block social media websites and notifications, but of course you wouldn’t have to resort to such measures if you can exert some self-control and discipline.

Invest in technology

Another thing to consider about working from home is the technology to help you work easier, such as a second monitor. Sometimes you will also need certain tools to stay connected to your company, clients, and colleagues. These tools may include but are not limited to web conferencing software, document sharing applications, or screen sharing programs.

These tips will turn your home into an office that will keep your working hours productive and disciplined throughout the day. If you’re looking to implement IT solutions that will encourage a more productive work environment, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
January 18th, 2016

164_C_MWRepetition is a proven way to incite people into action. Children use it to break down their parents’ psyche and get them to buy the latest toy, and advertisers use it to sell their product. Now, Microsoft is using the same tactic to try and get you to upgrade to Windows 10. But this time, you don’t have to stand for it. You can silence their annoying popups up for now, and here’s how you can do it.

If you’re like many people who are happy with their current Microsoft operating system, you may have no desire to upgrade to Windows 10. And while Microsoft seems to be doing everything they can to force your hand, like no longer offering security updates for Windows 8, upgrading is still avoidable for now. So if you’d like to get rid of the annoying prompts that are likely pestering you on a regular basis, it is possible to do so. And believe it or not, Microsoft themselves have released instructions on how to do this and they can be found their website.

How to block Windows 10 prompts

To block Windows 10 popups, you will need to dig into your PC’s registry and disable the upgrade path. However, a word of warning before you start: editing your registry incorrectly can cause serious problems to your PC. Before you make any modifications, back up your computer and registry in case anything goes wrong. In other words, at this point you're proceeding at your own risk.

If you are a Windows 7 Pro, Ultimate or Windows 8.1 Pro user and have admin permissions on the computer, follow these steps.

  1. Open up group policy editor (gpedit.msc)
  2. Browse to Computer Configuration>Administrative Templates>Windows Components>Windows Update Policy
  3. Switch on the Turn off the upgrade to the latest version of Windows through Windows Update setting
For users who are on a non-Enterprise version of Windows 7 or 8.1, you will need to input the below registry key in manually:

Subkey: HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Gwx DWORD value: DisableGwx = 1

And that’s all there is to it. Now you will no longer be bothered with popups bugging you to upgrade to Windows 10.

That being said, if you are currently running Windows 8 you need to make sure that you've upgraded to the latest “8.1 Update” version of the software so that you can enjoy continued 'Mainstream Support’ (including new features) until 9 January 2018 and ‘Extended Support’ (security patches) until 10 January 2023. If you're running the original Windows 8.0 you will no longer have support and your systems could be at risk.

If you would like additional assistance in blocking Windows notifications or help with other IT related needs, we are happy to be of service. Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 16th, 2016

SocialMedia_Jan11_CIf you’re not considering YouTube for your business’s marketing strategy, you’re truly missing out on one of the most powerful marketing platforms out there. YouTube gives you the opportunity to establish your business’s unique brand and personality through video. If you’re just starting out on YouTube marketing and don’t have a specific strategy in mind, check out these tips to create great videos and attract more viewers.

Keep it short and simple

Most people have short attention spans and won’t watch videos that are longer than a couple of minutes unless they’re really interested. This means lengthy videos might not perform as well as you might hope, since viewers are likely to be turned off completely. There’s no fixed formula here, but the idea is to create videos that convey your intended message within five minutes at most. If you have the need for longer videos, simply split them into small segments - this is another great way to keep your visitors hooked and make them want to come back for more.

Use humor in your videos

Have you ever wondered why the funny videos on YouTube earn so many hits in such a short time? That’s because people love humor. We all like a good laugh. There are several YouTube channels out there that have had huge success by injecting humor into their videos. You don’t have to make your audience fall on their backs laughing - just flashing a little sense of humor will do the trick.

Consider quality over quantity

With the vast number of amateur and low-quality videos that come up on YouTube’s search results, you need to go the extra mile and make your video stand out from the competition. It’s worth investing in a high-quality video camera if you’re serious about YouTube marketing. Each of your videos should contain helpful and engaging content. And before posting it live, make sure to ask for a second or third pair of eyes to go through it again. This way you can take out the fluff and polish the videos so they’re appealing to viewers.

Set engaging titles

When it comes to YouTube marketing, this is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind. Make sure you include relevant keywords in the title, so your viewers know what to expect to see in your video. The general rule of thumb is to keep it clear and concise, since long titles will be truncated in YouTube’s search results. Another thing is to refrain from using misleading titles that trick people into watching your video. Not only will your viewers hit the close button right away, this cheap trick will also have a negative impact on your video’s ranking.

Promote your videos

YouTube videos have a high chance of ranking well in Google, being the search engine giant’s subsidiary and following similar search algorithms. But this is no excuse to skimp on marketing. There are many ways to promote your videos to your specific target audience. Using relevant keywords and descriptions may help with organic traffic, but there’s also paid options like Google AdWords and Facebook Ads that will help you earn more exposure for your videos.

YouTube is a great tool to generate traffic and interact with your customers online. But do keep in mind that no matter how great your videos are, they won’t get seen if you don’t promote them well enough. If you want to learn how to maximize your YouTube marketing campaigns, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 15th, 2016

Hands holding fast flash SSD - solid state driveWhen it comes to purchasing new computers, buyers used to have limited choice for what kind of storage they got with their laptop or desktop PCs. But with the invention of the solid state drive (SSD), you can now configure your system with either the traditional hard disk drive (HDD), SSD, or in some cases both. So what’s the better choice between SSD and HDD? Here, we compare the two so you can decide for yourself which one best fits your needs.

What is an HDD?

A hard disk drive (HDD) is basically a storage device in a computer. It is comprised of metal platters with magnetic coating, spindle, and various moving parts to process and store data. The common size for laptop hard drives in the 2.5” model, while a larger 3.5” model is usually found in desktop computers.

What is an SSD?

A solid state drive (SSD) is also another type of data storage that performs the same job as an HDD. But insteading of storing data in a magnetic coating on top of platters, an SSD uses flash memory chips and an embedded processor to store, retrieve, and cache data. It is roughly about the same size as a typical HDD, and bears the resemblance of what smartphone batteries would look like.

HDD and SSD Comparison

Now let’s take a closer look at the two devices. We break it down into the following main categories:

Speed This is where SSDs truly prevail. While HDDs need a long time to access data and files because the disk must spin to find it, SSDs are up to 100 times faster since data can be accessed instantly. This is why an SSD-equipped PC will boot within seconds and deliver blazing fast speed for launching programs and applications, whereas a computer that uses a HDD will take much longer time to boot the operating system, and will continue to perform slower than an SSD during normal use.

Capacity As of writing, SSD units top out at 16TB storage capacity. Although there are large SSDs, anything that’s over 512GB is beyond most people’s price range. HDDs, on the other hand, have large capacities (1-2TB) available for much more affordable prices.

Durability HDDs consist of various moving parts and components, making them susceptible to shock and damage. The longer you use your HDD, the more they wear down and most eventually end up failing. Meanwhile, an SSD uses a non-mechanical design of flash storage mounted on a circuit board, providing better performance and reliability, and making it more likely to keep your files and data safe.

Noise An HDD can sometimes be the loudest part of your computer. Even the highest-performing HDDs will emit some noise when the drive is spinning back and forth to process data. SSDs have no moving parts, meaning it makes no noise at all.

Heat More moving part means more heat, and HDD users will have to live with the fact that their device will degenerate over time. SSD uses flash memory, generating less heat, helping to increase its lifespan.

Cost To be frank, SSDs are much more expensive than HDDs for the same capacity. This is why most computers with an SSD only have a few hundred gigabytes of storage. HDDs are about twice as cheaper than SSDs.

Despite the high costs and low capacity, SSD is a clear winner over the HDD in terms of performance. While you’re paying more for less memory with an SSD, you’re investing in a faster and far more durable data storage option in the long run.

We recommend using an SSD as the primary storage for your operating system, applications, and most-used programs. You can install another HDD inside the same computer to store documents, movies, music, and pictures - these files don’t need to leverage the incredible access times and speed of SSD.

Looking to invest in some new hardware for your business? Make sure you talk with our experts before you make the decision - we can provide sound advice and help guide you in the right direction.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 15th, 2016

HealthcareIT_2016Jan14_AAs wearable technology and health-based mobile applications become more prevalent among patients, there is a growing demand for healthcare professionals to be able to recommend these to patients. Many people simply see this as an extension of medical advice, after all you are already recommending medications, treatments, and care options. Realistically, the decision to recommend these is left to each healthcare professional, but here are a few things to consider if you think you’re ready to do it.

A growing number of doctors are being quizzed by patients about which healthcare apps and wearable technology they should be using. Last year, healthcare market research company MedPanel conducted a poll that found only 15 percent of doctors are speaking with patients about the benefits of these.

With the popularity and prevalence of both technologies set to increase over the coming years, doctors are going to have to decide if these will be something they recommend or even advise patients on. It can be a tough decision but here are a few of the issues you’ll need to take into consideration before making your choice.

What devices/operating systems do you feel comfortable with?

The problem for many healthcare professionals is that the sudden expansion of the mobile apps and wearable technology market left them out of the loop when it comes to these. A lot of doctors are apprehensive about making recommendations without knowing the ins and outs of how something works and this is why many of them are avoiding this subject when dealing with patients.

Realistically you will want to figure out what operating system you prefer to use. Chances are if you use an iPhone, it will be easier for you to download and test apps for iOS than Android. It should be the same with wearable technology devices. Take a few out for a test drive and learn more about them. This way, you have a general idea of what they can do should a patient ask about them. It’s also possible to have your technology provider arrange a demonstration of any of these devices and a better explanation of just how they work.

Figure out the scope of your recommendations

One thing doctors tend to notice when exploring the world of health apps and wearable technology is just how massive and varied it can be. If you’re a specialist, it will be much easier to figure out what you want to recommend to patients, but for general health practitioners and others who cover a broader range of medicine, you might find yourself lost in a neverending world of technology.

When it comes to wearable technology, it is a little easier to figure out the items patients will be interested in and what they probably won’t ask you about. However, when it comes to health apps, you need to be on your toes. Because the scope of these can vary wildly from nutrition and medicine reminders to heart health and stroke prevention, you are going to want to focus your recommendations on a few areas you feel comfortable with.

Talk to your patients

A lot of doctors don’t take the time to speak with their patients about what mobile health apps or wearable technology they use or are thinking about using. By talking to them, it will help you get a better idea of what your patients want from this technology and make it easier for you to figure what you should be focusing on.

Ask a tech expert

Just because a piece of wearable technology or a mobile app works great for you, doesn’t mean your patients will have the same experience. There are a lot of technological factors when it comes to wearable technology and mobile apps and learning more about these will be important to you and your patients. Tech experts, like those found on our staff, are able to let you know if mobile health apps or wearable technology is secure and able to adequately protect your personal information among numerous other issues. There would be nothing worse than you recommending a technology that contains viruses or other harmful problems to your patients.

If you want to be able to recommend wearable technology and mobile apps to your patients, get in touch with us first. We’ll make sure your picks have a clean bill of health.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 14th, 2016

Manager (businessman, coach, leadership) plan to increase efficiency.None of us sets out to be unproductive. Sure, we all have those days where a few drinks the night before leads to a less than stellar day at our desk, or a day off is begging to be spent curled up on the sofa in front of Netflix. But if you’ve noticed a drop in your productivity levels that threatens to encroach on more than the odd day here and there, it’s time to take a look at where you’re going wrong. Check out the tips below and reignite the spark of productivity!

When it comes to business, competition is fiercer than ever: you might have rivals undercutting your prices, you could be a bricks and mortar store pressurized by internet-based sellers, or perhaps you’re struggling to get a grip on your processes, marketing plans or even employees. By upping your efficiency stakes, working in a more agile fashion, and simply getting more work done more quickly, you could find that you’re holding the key to solving your problems.

Your issues with productivity might be personal, or they may well stem from your staff. As a small or medium-sized business owner or manager, you can’t afford to sit back and let your own inertia or disorganization, or your employees’ lack of dynamism, drag your company down. Take action and start getting to grips with your workload and help your business get 2016 off to a far more efficient start.

Take time out first thing

Okay, admittedly taking ‘time out’ sounds counterintuitive for increasing productivity, but hear us out. By taking a few minutes at the start of every morning, you’ll be getting the day off to a calm and orderly start, thereby increasing the chances of you being more productive, as opposed to running around like the proverbial headless chicken for the rest of the day.

Part mindfulness and part preparation, begin by emptying your head of any thoughts. Be in the moment and spend a minute or two breathing deeply. Next, consider the things most playing on your mind in relation to what needs to be done either today or in the near future. Jot them down on a piece of paper, followed with a short outline on how you are going to tackle them. Then set your mind to going forth and making those resolutions happen, one by one.

Quit multitasking

Some reports say that multitasking can negatively impact on your productivity by as much as 40 percent. When we’re taking on more than one task at a time, the perception is that we’re killing it productivity wise and getting loads done. The reality is that we’re spending the majority of the time jumping from one thing to the next and not fully focusing on any of them.

You need to exercise willpower to commit to ‘singletasking’ but before long it should come as second nature. Pick one thing that you are going to work on and stick to it until you have finished, or at least done everything you can for the time being. This includes not checking your email during that time – surely one of the biggest productivity sappers of all time. If the temptation is too strong, log out of your inbox on your computer, and set your phone to silent if you have audible alerts configured. If you’re worried you’re going to overlook something during this time period, use an online or physical notepad to note down spur of the moment thoughts or ideas.

Reassess your working hours

It’s no secret that the traditional 9 to 5 is on the way out. Being connected and contactable around the clock is putting paid to that, but is being constantly online actually counterproductive? How effective are you really at 11pm at night when you’re slumped in front of The Walking Dead with a beer and a spreadsheet full of data?

Take a tip from the latest round of startups that are taking a sledgehammer to the idea that we need to work around the clock, and are instead turning the working week on its head. The CEO of one rising startup has gone as far to institute a five-hour workday that runs from just 8am to 1pm, taking into account that studies show people are more productive earlier in the day. The theory goes that making people sit in an office for 8 hours a day, whilst giving them ample time to be productive, equally gives them just as many hours to waste time. A shorter working day could instill a greater sense of urgency in employees, who in turn respect the company’s consideration of their personal lives and work harder.

Depending on your business, changing your working hours may not be practical, but it could still be food for thought - and adopting a singletasking approach and planning your day ahead calmly and clearly is achievable and will never hurt.

If you’d like to find out how implementing better IT and more efficient procedures can help you beat the productivity blues, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity