With the 2016 presidential campaigns underway, there has been a lot of talk lately on how to stimulate the economy. Politics aside however, there is one truth about the U.S. economy; we may not be able to stimulate growth simply by working longer hours. Conversely, we all need to start working smarter.
It’s always been a matter of cultural pride for Americans to go by the “live to work” mentality, but recent research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics—and verified by credible news sources including BBC, New York Times and Washington Post—proves Americans in fact work the most hours out of any industrialized country. In fact, last year alone Americans worked an average 1,800 hours per person, more than Japan, the UK and Germany.
The problem, therefore, is not that Americans don’t work long enough; it’s that they may not be working efficiently enough. Research conducted by Salary.com, an online jobs search engine, found that 89 percent of more than 750 surveyed American workers reported wasting time at work on a daily basis. That figure is up 20 percent from just one year ago.
In workplaces like creative agencies, wasted time can have serious affects on client relations as deadlines need to be strictly kept. As such, if you’re looking for ways to be drive efficiency within your agency, try addressing these three areas where you’re probably wasting time:
- Email over collaboration solutions: Email is an essential part for a number of day-to-day functions, as it accounts for a large portion of communication between clients. However, if you’re using email for all kinds of interoffice communications, then you’re wasting time. For instance, how many times have you checked your inbox to find dozens of emails, all on the same topic? That results in a lot of wasted time trying to sort through all of the conversations in email, and with no real place to record ideas or marching orders. When you use collaboration solutions, you can keep track of conversations in context, without having to piece the story back together.
- Storing documents on local drives: In the fast-paced environment of a creative department or agency, every second counts. A primary reason time is wasted is when you route assets through email, with the original living on every reviewers’ hard drive. That can result in costly mistakes—especially when a wrong version goes to print or incorrect information is posted to the corporate or client’s website. On the flip side, if you were to use a service such as Google Docs, or proofing software like ProofHQ, all your files can be stored in the cloud and constantly updated—so a lost file will never be an issue—and multiple team members can view, edit and collaborate on a single document at once, saving valuable time.
- Writing down tasks on Post-its: While writing down reminders on sticky notes might be a viable strategy for the short-term, these tiny yellow pads can be a real time-suck later on. First off, Post-it notes have a nasty habit of getting lost amongst desk clutter. Secondly, while the reminder may contain valuable information, it cannot alert you in real-time when something needs to be completed. Thankfully, there are a number of desktop and browser applications available for creatives to use instead of hand-written notes that will keep you on track and on time. To get a list of some of our favorites, click here.
By addressing these three issues, you’ll be able to work smarter and more efficiently, thereby saving you time and a lot of stress. Let us know what other tips you’ve been using at work to save time in the comments below.
Editor’s note: Marcus Varner is a Senior Content Marketing Manager for Workfront, a cloud-based Enterprise Work Management solution. Varner authored this piece for the Mad Marketer site and his other work can be found on the Workfront blog, here. To learn how you can contribute to the Mad Marketer, contact us here.