One of the biggest challenges when running a startup is being productive while charging through the mountain of tasks ahead. Though it may seem overwhelming at first, establishing a set of routines and building some discipline is the best way to stay productive through it all.
Rather than burning out halfway through your to-do list before tiring out, these steps will help ensure that you and your team remain on task, and keep momentum going while being productive.
1) Bots are your friends, not foes
Automation is one of the best ways to ensure that you are being productive while still getting work done – especially since it helps free up time to help everyone focus on other important tasks. Zapier and IFTT are good examples of simple software that will really help in this process.
For example, Zapier is a great way to automatically move info between web apps seamlessly. You can pick a trigger that will start a motion (i.e. receiving an email) and set Zapier to perform certain actions automatically. This enables you to go to your workflow right away, without needing to do mundane tasks.
Another great tool is IFTT, a free web-based service that allows users to create chains of commands titled applets. The latter is triggered by changes occurring in other web services, such as email and social media. Some of their popular ones include automatically logging calls to spreadsheets, or automatically saving iOS contacts to Google contacts, but there is a great deal of customization available for other automated setups.
Pro Tip: Have your bots send info to your team messaging tool like Slack or Mattermost to keep everyone informed at all times.
2) Invest in bookkeeping
Keeping up with the financial health of a startup is often one of the most time-consuming, and exhausting processes – and likely leads to a lot of investment in time and resources when trying to sort that process out. One of the best ways to increase productivity in this part of your startup is to invest in the right bookkeeping sources.
Tools such as Quickbooks Online, and services such as Bench.co will help you save time with everyday tasks, and provide a greater deal of accuracy in how financial transactions are being recorded. Moreover, using these resources will allow both you and your team to divert efforts in other parts of the business, and focus on the big picture and what the future holds for your startup.
3) Set weekly standups
A sense of routine and discipline is often needed for maximum productivity, and the best way to accomplish this is to install a bit of structure in day-to-day functions. One weekly sprint standup meeting, and one quick roadblock meeting a few days prior to the next sprint meeting is one method to stay productive.
This will ensure that all tasks are well on their way to be completed, while allowing you and your team to iron out any kinks as they may arise rather than waiting till the last minute. Additionally, this is also useful in keeping team members accountable for their tasks throughout the process since it will provider greater context for what needs to be done.
Pro Tip: Use a free project management tool like Trello to keep track of to-dos. Make sure you set deadlines and assign members to tasks. Only set tasks in progress that can be accomplished within your weekly sprint.
4) Embrace cloud-based apps
Cloud-based apps are one of the strongest ways to encourage productivity, and its inherent nature is in collaboration, so it allows everyone to work together easily. The Google Apps Suite is a great place to start, since it has pretty much everything needed for team members to work together. Having all your files in the cloud will not only aid in sharing and collaboration, but also ensures that no one user has sole access to everything and is generally a much more secure option.
Pro Tip: Get your folder structure and file naming rules in place early or you’ll accumulate some unnecessary technological debt.
5) Keep track of passwords
As teams grow, so will the amount of apps and services being used – that much is inevitable. However, keeping track of different passwords becomes a chore, and having to constantly reset important passwords will end up taking more time than it really should. Use a password vault such as LastPass to store all of these important passwords, and make life easier. It makes logging on to different apps far easier for team members, and reduces the need for everyone to keep track of a multitude of passwords that might not always work.
Pro Tip: Make sure you use a tool that can be used for teams so nobody ends up being a gatekeeper for mission critical accounts. God forbid Bob is hit by car. Oh yeah, Bob’s the system admin and now nobody can access the server. Bob will be fine but the websites down and you just got featured on TechCrunch.
6) Log all your processes in a wiki
Though it may seem like a pain right now, it is extremely important to start logging all of your processes in a wiki. Getting in to the habit early will make it far easier when the team and startup grows, and there is a greater need for a log. Doing so now will definitely pay dividends as your team grows, and will help you keep track of what is really important. It will also become useful when trying to understand where the gaps are, and where improvement is needed. A good option for this is Google Sites, since it is easy to use and easily integrated into other Google products.
What are some other tips to help startups stay productive?