For all the latest news and information from ThinkSmart Software.
For all the latest news and information from ThinkSmart Software.
The workday for instructional places is frequently different than traditional offices. Firstly, the hours are different. While people tend to sit inside an office for eight hours or more a day, studios are not quite like that. People are looking for instruction after school, before work, and at other ‘off’ times. Therefore, the traditional workday for someone in the music or art instruction business could vary considerably from day to day, depending on the number of clients, classes, etc.
When you are looking at maximising productivity for the hours that you and your employees put into the business, one of the first places to start is with the workday itself. Many people think of new equipment, new technology, or taking training as being necessary to bolster productivity. While those are all excellent things, restructuring your workday itself is sometimes the best way to boost everyone's morale and productivity!
How Does a Productive Workday Look?
When figuring out how you might redesign it, it is imperative to look at the obvious question: "what is a productive workday?" Or, put another way, what is the end goal of a well-designed workday? What's different between it and now?
There is no universal definition for what a productive workday is. One could argue that the most productive workday is when you get everything you need to do completed, in the fewest hours necessary. Productive workdays should also ensure that you don't need to take your work home. There should be a clear delineation between work and play, and if you find yourself taking work home or thinking about work at home, that is often a sign that a redesign of your workday is necessary.
Being more productive during the workday means that you can get more done now and refrain from taking work home. In other words, if done right, more productivity doesn't mean more hours. Instead, it means you use those you have more efficiently.
When it Comes to Hours, Less is More
When people think of redesigning their workday for increased productivity, many people wrongly believe that this means adding more hours at work. The logic goes that if you're working six hours a day for dance instruction, for example, maybe if you added two hours of prep on top of that, that would make you more productive. While increasing time at work can boost productivity in some circumstances, there are diminishing and negative returns after a certain number of hours.
As this article by the Financial Times points out, one company cut the employees working hours from eight to five every day and found that its sales increased by 30 per cent.
Sounds counterintuitive, right? Not really.
Our brains can only focus for so long before zoning out or needing a break. In fact, for the average office worker, only three out of eight hours per day are spent on work. The remainder consists of socialisation, web browsing, social media, and other mundane activities.
So, when the company cut hours from eight to five, they were cutting out the fluff, not the productivity. Employees were happy to get those hours back and, in turn, produced more during the time they were at work.
Every human is different, of course, so you need to find what works best for you and your staff. Just keep in mind that you'll likely never achieve more productivity just by adding more hours to your day!
Structure Your Unstructured Time
Suppose that you have a workday that looks something like the following; You have four music lessons, each 30 minutes long. You also need to return some calls, follow-up with some emails, and call the accountant about an audit letter you received from the tax authorities.
Studies have shown that people only have so much time that they can focus on one consecutive task before their mind starts to wander to other things (e.g. how's social media doing, what's the stock market looking like, did my daughter send me that message, etc.). After that period, you're no longer working on that singular problem, but instead, you're half-focused on it, which is far less productive.
The average person performs best when they focus for 52 minutes, followed by a break of 17 minutes.
So, you could structure your day as follows. You could book two lessons back-to-back. Follow that up with a 15-minute break to regroup and recharge. Then, take the time to follow-up on your emails (30 minutes or so). Do another class. That's one hour of focus time, so take another 15-minute break. Return your calls, including the one with the accountant (again, 30 minutes or so) and do the final class.
In three and a half hours, our hypothetical workday is over! By working with our mental limitations and building structured, unstructured break time into the workday, we significantly improve our productivity.
Instead, most people would try and cram everything together to "plow through" as quickly as possible, thinking they'd be boosting productivity. In reality, they'd be stressing their brain and taking more time to complete the same tasks.
Provide Longer Hours to Customers with Staggered Work Hours For Staff
Even though your workdays might be shorter (if you're doing things right), that doesn't mean that your customers have to feel any impact. You can often stagger the work hours so that there are always instructors who can accommodate clients at any time. Everyone does their best, most-focused work at different times. Finding out what times work best for you and your staff will help boost productivity by making it less likely that they'll be working during their natural downtime.
The Best Way to Boost Productivity is to Increase Focus
No matter what business you're in, you want to provide the best instruction possible for your clients. Whether you're a dance teacher, a music instructor, or teach some other craft, you'll want your customers to have the best possible experience. If you're unfocused and unproductive because you've been working too many hours, your customers and your business will suffer.
Instead of trying to boost productivity by working more, you might want to try redesigning your workday to reduce the number of hours you work. While it might sound counterintuitive, research has shown that a well-designed highly-focused workday is the best way to boost productivity. Keep the day short, the number of breaks high (but short), and use your mental capacity to the maximum when you're at work. When you finish work, relax, recharge, and get ready for the next workday.
By redesigning your workday smartly, you can increase your productivity significantly!