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How to insure productivity in a structure-less work environment

(BUSINESS NEWS) Rethink your daily habits in order to optimize your productivity in a structure-free environment.

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Living the dream?

Remote workers and entrepreneurs seem like they have it made in the shade. Without as many traditional office rules to abide by, they appear to be the master of their own domain. However, that flexibility can be a double-edged sword; more choices can quickly spiral into a choice paralysis that leads to nothing getting done.

At the end of the day, remote workers might need to create something of their own structure in order to thrive. The structure acts as a cue of sorts to divide work and non-work hours.

So, what does that look like?

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Constant vigilance

Start with your schedule. It’s awesome to be able to exercise, clean house, grocery shop and do a myriad of other things in the morning before and after work, without worrying about your commute.

It’s a brilliant benefit, but it creates another choice occupying space in your brain that could otherwise be focused on your business.

When writing a work to-do list, integrate pre-work and post-work tasks into that routine. Set a hard deadline for when personal errands stop and when work begins. Try to keep that free time period regular between days as well.

Oh, and don’t forget breaks either. Much like an office lunch, baking breaks into your routine will offer some helpful structure and give your brain a chance to recharge.

Pants not required, but may help get things done

Another mental cue is how you dress. As it turns out, years of conditioning through putting on office attire as a morning routine aren’t insignificant. Working from home doesn’t require you to continue wearing those work clothes you hate. In fact, some may choose to overdress or, like Zuckerberg, wear a soft grey t-shirt every day.

Regardless of formality, the routine of a uniform is a useful cue. However, don’t be surprised if you find a certain level of comfort and energy by putting effort into how you look, and how that can help set your day off on a productive foot.

Get serious

Finally, once you set a routine for yourself, eliminating distractions is a critical component. That’s not an uncommon idea, but what you may forget about is how distracting technology can be. That doesn’t just go for Facebook.

For example, not having adequate, stable Internet access in your home can often get in the way.

People don’t always think about it ahead of time because of how accustomed we are to is luxury. Face down connection issues to ensure things are working when your business is on the line.

HuffPo also suggests five factors that contribute to a functional and productive workplace:

• Exposure to natural light.
• A temperature setting at 77 degrees.
• Painted in neutral or soft colors.
• Filled with plants.
• Free from background noise.

If that’s at home, cultivate a space with these factors. If you’re like me, and home isn’t the right place to get stuff done for you throughout the day, scout out coffee shops and coworking spaces with these factors in mind, in order to optimize your productivity.

In short, while remote work provides a lot of benefits, it also opens us up to variables and choices not present in a traditional environment.

Part of harnessing that flexibility is systematizing choices that are less important so that you can focus that willpower on your business and career.

#productivityhacks

Born in Boston and raised in California, Connor arrived in Texas for college and was (lovingly) ensnared by southern hospitality and copious helpings of queso. As an SEO professional, he lives and breathes online marketing and its impact on businesses. His loves include disc-related sports, a pint of a top-notch craft beer, historical non-fiction novels, and Austin's live music scene.

Business Entrepreneur

Cowrkr gives you accountability while you work solo

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Being accountable for your own accountability is a tall order. Join Cowrkr and let someone else do it for you.

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My boyfriend and I have always had a great appreciation for film and television, as well as the writing that goes into it. We always talk about different project ideas, but never get too far in execution with the busyness of real life.

Last night, I finally thought of a way that we can help each other bring our projects to completion, and that is simply by holding each other accountable. I suggest that each week we could have a new task that is due by 10 p.m. Sunday night.

We both have ideas for scripts, so the plan is to start off with having a plot synopsis and character list due the first week, having an outline due the second week, and so on. This will not only help keep us on track but will also help in terms of formatting ideas.

While I’m grateful that this little plan has come together, I know that most people aren’t working on similar projects to people they are close with. Therefore, they may need to look elsewhere for accountability.

Now freelancers and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to be matched with a fellow freelancer or entrepreneur to help hold each other accountable for their respective projects. Meet Cowrkr.

“This is an initiative to help makers keep themselves socially accountable by getting them to build publicly,” says cowrkr developers.

Users sign up and give some info regarding what project they’re working on and what they’re shipping. It works by connecting two makers at a time and cowrkr works to help each maker keep the other accountable until each project is completed.

Once a project has been completed, the makers then end their accountability relationship. When their next project comes along, they will then be assigned a different maker.

Cowrkr’s website does not give a ton of insight as to how the algorithms and matching systems work, but it is an intriguing idea for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to take their individual projects to the next level.

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Business Entrepreneur

The top 10 startup cities in America

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) If you’re thinking about launching a startup anytime soon you may want to check out this list on the top 10 cities for startups.

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The digital revolution is in full swing, and some cities are setting themselves up to capitalize upon these innovations by supporting startups.

In order to “better understand the U.S. cities driving the digital revolution,” several groups have come together to rank which cities are making the most of the tech startup boom.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1776, the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center, and FreeEnterprise.com have teamed up to publish a report called Innovation That Matters (ITM).

The report analyzes and ranks U.S. cities on such factors as startup capital, the connectivity of startups, startup culture, the availability of worker talent and specialization, and more. Data was taken from surveys of entrepreneurs and businesspeople, startups, and leaders in public and private sectors.

J.D. Harrison, senior director of strategic communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that the “digital revolution has the potential to make winners of some cities and leave others behind.”

The study aims to find out which cities “embrace this shift to a digital economy and actively support technology startups,” arguing that these cities “will be the best positioned to unleash the power of high-impact innovation and cultivate vibrant, thriving communities.”

The top ten ranking cities are as follows:

10) Portland, Oregon because every city needs a nickname, has been dubbed the Silicon Forest, referencing its leadership in green tech.

9) New York City, New York. The largest tech hub on the east coast.

8) Seattle, Washington. Home to Amazon.com and several other tech firms, with Microsoft’s headquarters in nearby Redmond.

7) Dallas, Texas. Dtown moved up significantly by increasing startup connectivity and tapping into a large, diverse workforce.

6) Atlanta, Georgia. The “most improved” city on the ITM list, moving up 15 places to number six due to a surge in financial, educational, and health tech industries.

5) Austin,Texas. Home of The American Genius, Austin has become a “haven for tech-savvy millennials seeking good-paying job opportunities.” Besides hosting many tech startups, Austin still has a relatively affordable cost of living.

4) San Diego, California. San Diego is full of cybersecurity, Big Data, robotics, and software startups.

3)Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also known as Philicon Alley, moved up from number eight by deregulating and becoming more business-friendly.

2) San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay also ranked number two last year. The seaside neighbor to the Silicon Valley has been doing a great job attracting seed funding these days.

1) Boston, Massachusetts. This is the second year in a row that Boston has topped this list, due to its large number of startups and robust entrepreneur population.

How does your city rank?

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Business Entrepreneur

Customer surveys tell more than just satisfaction

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) While they can be annoying for the consumer and cost time for the company, customer feedback surveys are crucial to your business.

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While Richard Dawson, Louie Anderson, and Steve Harvey may not be able to personally help you with customer service, what they have in common can. Surveys, and personalized follow-up attention in general, help clients and consumers know that they mean something to your business.

For the sake of this article (and the fast-paced, technological world we live in) I am going to be speaking about surveys. However, I want to share this anecdote first.

I used to work front desk at a salon and part of my job was to follow up with new guests about a week after their appointment.

Now, most of the time, my calls went to voicemail, which were never returned; but every once in awhile a human answered.

After going through the spiel of why I was calling, I could almost always sense a sound of surprise from the other line before the person answered my question. One conversation in particular left me realizing how important this seemingly useless task was.

I called an older woman and asked her about a recent appointment she had at the salon. She thanked me for calling and then went into detail about how great the appointment was and how much getting her hair done meant to her.

Before we hung up she said, “thank you again for calling. A salon has never done this before.” It then hit me like a ton of bricks just how significant something as small as a callback is.

If you have the time, definitely make those callbacks to clients as it could be very meaningful. However, it’s understandable that most of us may not have the time in our schedule for personalized phone calls.

So if that’s the case, don’t forget about surveys. I know most of them will either go to spam or go unanswered, but the mere fact that you’re sending it out shows clients and customers that you care about their business.

And, for those surveys that do receive responses, it can be extremely beneficial for your company as you can get insight into what works and what doesn’t. There’s really no disadvantage to this tactic, so remember to make time for that follow up with existing clients rather than just focusing on getting new ones.

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