Chamber pros are some of the hardest working professionals out there. Chamber work / life easily blurs into personal life as you’re recognized as the “chamber gal /guy” wherever you go.
You have to constantly be “on” and you’re charged with doing a lot to improve your community with fewer and fewer resources at your disposal.
That means you have to leverage the resources you do have to become your most productive and effective. This article will help you do that with 32 productivity and business-streamlining tips.
Implementing some of these tips can help you improve productivity and reduce the likelihood of burnout.
Since we don’t have any time to waste in this profession, let’s get to it…
7 Ways to Create a More Productive Foundation for Your Chamber Work … and Life
The first step to becoming more productive ironically takes time.
You need to create a good foundation for productivity:
- Create a file for images and fun things to share as you come across them. Murphy’s Law for social media states that when you need something to post you can’t find anything. It’s very similar to Murphy’s Law for watching TV, the more channels and time you have, the less possibility there is for finding a good show.
Use this folder – often called a “swipe file” – to save memes you find, posts from the community, and your own pictures so you have easy access when you need it.
- Streamline your life to harness your best thoughts. Ever notice how you can solve the world’s problems in the shower or as you drive? Maybe you have enlightened moments while you’re sleeping. Create a way to capture these brilliant gems so you can take action on them.
Some people use dictation software or their notes function on their phones, while others prefer jotting notes on a notepad. Before you say anything about notepads in the shower, they make waterproof ones so there’s never an excuse to let your brilliance wash down the drain with the suds.
Just make sure you take those thoughts and drop them in the “swipe” file you created.
- Help people help themselves by putting tools in place that assist people in getting the answers they need on their own. For instance, create an FAQ on your website, update your content for easy answers, use a chatbot, update your auto attendant or outgoing phone message to answer commonly asked questions, etc.
- Use project management software if you have an event or project with many parts and deadlines/requirements. It can keep people on task without you chasing deliverables.
- Store everything in the cloud for easy access with your team no matter where they are.
- Streamline your systems so everything functions in tandem across all your platforms. Calendars should sync, images and docs should be shared for optimum efficiency. Your phone should be an extension of your computer and vice versa. If you don’t know how to do this, ask a techie.
- Streamline your member application form. The fewer questions you have to field, the more time you and your team will have and the less frustrated new members will be.
Okay, time to get our productivity on…
25 Productivity Tips to Streamline Your Chamber
If you incorporate even a few of these you should feel a more productive in your daily tasks:
- Examine your team and board member strengths. Delegate accordingly. For example: if someone is a gifted communicator, ask them to write press releases.
- Make a list of what you do on a given day. How many of those tasks require your level of expertise? You are wasting your valuable time if there are tasks that can be handled by someone else such as a staff member, volunteer, intern, board member, freelancer, paid member, or virtual assistant. Delegate what doesn’t require your degree of skill. This goes along with knowing what your time is worth from a financial perspective.
- Chunk/bundle like tasks. Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line but he is often credited with it. He realized that workers were quicker and more efficient when they did the same repetitive part of the car assembly, as opposed to completing a car from beginning to end.
While you may not have the efficient luxury of doing the same task over and over (much more flexibility is required in your role), you can achieve similar efficiency by chunking or bundling the same types of tasks and conquering them at the same time like doing all your invoices at once. Repetitive actions or using the same parts of your brain will help you from having to switch focus and thinking.
- Don’t let the ding derail you. Turn off those email notifications on your phone and computer if you can’t work through them. They are distracting and unless you are waiting for a particular email, they will not benefit you. Even the most disciplined person loses their concentration when that email ding or summary pops up.
Turn them off. Get more done.
- If you create images to share on social, make a shared file folder in the cloud. Give your staff access to those images to use them in other capacities like a newsletter or as a blog image. Don’t forget to brand them with a subtle watermark or your chamber logo.
- Use a post scheduler. Make time to set it up every week, for example while watching TV on Sunday night or over Monday morning coffee.
- Create an editorial calendar for your blog of topics you want to cover. This will help with Murphy’s Law of Blog Posting, which is when you have to write it, you can never think of any good topics but when you’re driving down the road or you’re in the shower, hundreds of thoughts come to mind.
- Calculate what your time–and that of your staff’s–is worth. Knowing your hourly rate and what will be gained by any interaction like a meeting, may help you reduce those unnecessary and costly drains on your time.
- Use pre-made content for social media. Frank Kenny offers a chamber marketing bundle of content delivered to your inbox once a week and a library of hundreds of images, articles, and videos for those who are part of the program. Then all you have to do is handle the scheduling.
- Look into auto-renewal for members and cut down on dues reminders past the membership renewal date. Of course, if you followed the advice of knowing what your time is worth and where your expertise is required, you likely already put this task in the hands of someone else, right???
- Hold office hours. Yes, there will be interruptions you have to deal with at other times but holding office hours for walk-ins can help you become more efficient with your time. Office hours help people have access to you without it affecting your productivity because they become something you schedule. You can also host them at a different member’s business for added face time in the community.
- Shut your door. Chamber pros are in the people business but no CEO is available to just anyone at any time without an appointment. Recognize it’s okay to close your door. Stop feeling guilty about it.
- Use an email scheduler like Boomerang that lets you write your emails whenever you want and then schedule them to send at an ideal time. Stop looking like a lunatic sending them at 3 a.m. even if that’s when you wrote them.
- Schedule self-care. If you schedule it, it will happen. It also makes it a priority in your brain. Our bodies are machines. If we don’t service them and care for them, they’ll break down. It’s hard to be productive when you’re broken down.
- Schedule self-improvement. Professional development is also important. Make it a priority. Building a strong base of knowledge and tactics will help you be more efficient at your job and more desirable. If people see you are well-versed in best practices, they’re more apt to listen to your suggestions.
- Understand Parkinson’s Law (no relation to Murphy’s). Parkinson’s Law states that the amount of work will expand or contract to fill the space allotted for it (like styrofoam). For instance, if you set aside a meeting for an hour, it will take an hour. Whereas, if you set it for thirty minutes, you can probably get the same amount done.
- Give clear instructions the first time. If you watch team sports, you know how important the handoff is. Whether we’re talking about a baton in a relay race or a football, if the person handing off does a sloppy job, the person picking up has a much more difficult time and will likely drop it or not achieve the goal.
Take the time to explain expectations and what you need when delegating. This additional time investment upfront will save you hours on the back end. If you choose to do a quick hand-off, the recipient will come back with countless questions. It’s likely you won’t get what you need from them, causing them to have to redo their work as well, decreasing their productivity too.
- Set Google alerts to help you “listen” to what others are saying about you, the chamber, and/or issues you’re concerned with.
- Create Twitter lists and add members to them for easy access to their content. Retweet them.
- Take pictures all the time and save them in a folder to use as posts or image quotes.
- When you access the internet, always have a purpose. When you’ve met that goal or answered that question, leave. Otherwise, it’s a very deep rabbit hole where you can lose hours of productivity doing nothing you can explain.
- Always bring work (thus the brilliance behind storing things on the cloud). You never know when you will have an unexpected wait. I’m jotting down ideas for this article during an unexpected wait at a very crowded airport cellphone lot, for instance.
- Limit meetings to things that can’t be handled in an email or a shared document.
- Introduce people within your organization who you believe will be good friends. This is especially important among volunteers. If people have a buddy to volunteer with, they’re more likely to do it and you have twice the help. Finally…
- KNOW YOUR GOALS. Every action and choice brings you closer to achieving them or leads you astray. Identifying which is which will help you choose the tasks that you and the chamber get the most benefit out of.