Running an agency is hard.
I should know - I used to run one.
It’s the ultimate service-based business where time quite literally equals money. Waste a single second, and you're eating into your margins.
Or even worse, a project that you thought would take 4 weeks takes you 6 weeks. The delay in your deliverable means a delay in a paycheck from your client, and you risk becoming a cashflow negative business.
Running an agency is all about maximizing your productivity, and the productivity of your team. So, here are five common productivity time sucks and how you and your team can avoid them:
1. I know You Can’t Ignore Facebook, But…
Facebook is the ultimate double-edged sword.
Your team needs to be on the platform because that’s where your clients and prospects expect to find you. No doubt, you spend a lot of time creating status updates, engaging with fans, and even managing the Facebook accounts of your clients.
Among the general public (those who have never worked for a digital agency), Facebook is the number one social media site that TimeDoctor users visit - and by a wide margin.
The average person spends 51 minutes per day on social media, with Facebook taking up 40 of those minutes. While TimeDoctor’s users don’t quite spend that high of a percentage on Facebook, they do spend a majority of their social media time using the social media behemoth.
During the course of a 24-hour day, we tracked 5,214 hours spent on social media by TimeDoctor users. And a staggering 3,017 hours were spent on Facebook.
The chart below shows the breakdown of time spent on Facebook as opposed to other popular social media networks.
(As an interesting side note: LinkedIn received a very statistically insignificant amount of attention among TimeDoctor users.)
If you’re anything like me, you meander from the ad manager over to your timeline more frequently than you should. So, in order to maximize productivity in Facebook, I use a free Google Chrome extension called Kill News Feed.
The Kill News Feed extension kills the news feed and replaces it with a message reminding you not to get distracted. That's it. You can still check your messages and notifications, post status updates, and do everything you could do before. You just won't get distracting news feed posts anymore.
You see, the thing that makes Facebook so addictive is the Newsfeed scrolling. It's only natural that you're curious to see what your friends are doing and what pictures they’re posting. The Kills Newsfeed app helps to eliminate that “addiction”!
2. Work from Home Once a Week
“Do you have a minute?”
How many times do you hear a fellow colleague in your office approach you this way? According to a recent survey published by Atlassian, the answer is 56 times per day.
That’s the number of times you’re interrupted by a colleague while you’re “in the zone”. This equates to approximately 2 hours spent recovering from the distraction, not including the distraction itself. Moreover, 80% of all workplace distractions are considered trivial.
In a separate survey by Ask.com that was published on Fortune, of 2060 adults employed full time in the US, the number one cited workplace distraction was loud colleagues. A staggering 63% of employees claim that the idle chatter that goes on in the workplace is the number one reason that they aren’t accomplishing as much as they would like during office hours.
89% of the employees surveyed said that they would be much more efficient if they could work alone.
I completely understand if working from home every day is not an easy option. When I ran my digital agency, I wanted to see my team from time to time. But I also knew that allowing them to stay home to “catch up” on work was important to their mental health and productivity.
3. Control Your Email
In a survey of 4000 people published by the Beta Research Corporation, 70% of respondents said that they checked their personal email during the work day.
Moreover, 33% of respondents said that they check their personal email at least 3 times per day. For employees, it gets even worse. The Beta Research survey found that 26% of employers who have fired employees over email misuse, have cited excessive personal email use as the reason why.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of how long they spend checking their email. If you’re like me, then you’ve probably said something like this to yourself:
“I’ll just take five minutes and respond to this email”.
But the problem is, you don’t just send the one email. You wind up spending more time than you imagined trying to reach “inbox zero”, and before you know it, you’ve completely lost track of time.
I’m not saying you should avoid email altogether (unless that’s company policy), but it’s important to know how much time you’re spending in your personal inbox.
A tool like TimeDoctor, which integrates with WorkflowMax, can let you know exactly how much time you’re spending in your personal inbox. You can get detailed insights on your inbox usage so that you can be aware of how much time you spend in personal email.
4. Meeting Agenda
Unfortunately, meetings are a necessary evil as long as managers continue to insist on having daily meetings in hopes of paradigm shifting, synergy building, game changing bursts of productivity.
But the data is starting to prove different.
According to an infographic by Atlassian, the average employee goes to 62 meetings a month where the employee spent 31 hours in an unproductive meetings.
The Atlassian infographic states that US companies waste $31 billion in salary costs for their employees to attend unnecessary meetings.
So, how much time are you wasting in meetings? Once again, a tool like TimeDoctor can track that for you. Time tracking and productivity tools work by tracking keyboard strokes and mouse movements. Obviously, you can’t track your physical location, but you can make certain assumptions.
For instance, you can determine how much time you spend in meetings by comparing the gap in movement with the time a meeting is scheduled until you’ve returned to your desk and moved your mouse. If you find that your hour-long staff meeting is consistently running 30 minutes over time, then you can make certain adjustments in your schedule.
Unfortunately, you probably can’t eliminate meetings from your work day, but perhaps you can choose to be more judicial about the meetings you attend.
Before you confirm your attendance to a meeting, make sure that you know exactly what the agenda is, what you plan on accomplishing, and have action items for moving forward. Once you’ve determined the agenda, you can then decide if the meeting is going to be the best use of your time.
5. General Web Browsing
We all waste time browsing the web in addition to our social media usage We search news sites, read Mashable, jump on Growthhackers.com, and scour the web for interesting blog posts.
While studies show that your team members don’t spend a significant portion of time doing any one activity, the hours spent quickly accrue.
We have found that 61% of employees spend more than one hour per day browsing non-work related websites during work hours.
Research indicates that the average employee wastes time on the following each week:
- Online Games (.56 hours per week)
- Portals (.24 hours per week)
- Instant Messaging (.22 hours per week)
- Pornography (.13 hours per week)
- Fantasy Football (.12 hours per week)
Instead of blacklisting these sites and risk making your employees angry (OK, you may want to blacklist pornography sites), you can simply set up a gentle nudge to get your employees back on track with TimeDoctor and WorkflowMax.
Something simple that gently reminds your team that they’ve been browsing for a while now and should start to refocus on their tasks.
An agency business is unlike most other businesses. It’s the ultimate customized client service business model where wasting time will literally cost you money.
A few extra minutes in a meeting and a few extra minutes spent answering one more personal email might not sound like much, but when added together, it might impact your bottom line. Or perhaps worse, impact your cash flow and your ability to pay the bills on time.
By being aware of the places you’re wasting the most time and leveraging tools to give you the nudge you need to refocus, you and your team can rapidly increase productivity, improve your bottom line, and increase your cashflow.