Our desire to look inward is one of the things that makes our company so unique. At Chillistore, we don’t settle for the way things are or have been — we talk to each other; we assess pain points; and we make concrete plans for improvement. Continuous Improvement is the first of three pillars that define our company.
What does it mean to continuously improve? The first step is identifying what isn’t working (or, what isn’t working as well as it could). In a recent brainstorming session, we discussed why improvement can fall by the wayside during an average day at work. Maybe you’re up against a deadline and don’t feel like there’s time to “work on yourself”? Perhaps the dogs are barking, your Wifi is slow, and you haven’t had enough coffee (most likely, all three of these things are true!). These are all obstacles that can make it hard to see the bigger picture and to self-motivate.
Ideas for Improvement
The key to self-motivation? Working with others. We find that teamwork gets more done than working on an island. After all, there’s a reason the English expression, “two heads are better than one” exists. A busy workload can make it difficult to find time to collaborate and meet; so, how can we encourage collaboration? Managing our time more effectively is key. If we want to have discussions, we need to make time for them. Brainstorming sessions (like the one that inspired this blog post) are great ways to keep ideas flowing and encourage honest dialogue.
And then there’s the question of quality meetings. It’s one thing to book a one-hour meeting, but it’s another to stay fully focused and dedicated during the hour. We’ve all fallen into the trap of responding to emails and texts, or of thinking about our grocery lists and household chores while someone else is talking. Perhaps to fully collaborate we need to be actively present. For some, this means silencing our phones and focusing on the task at hand. For others, this means active listening, via techniques like note taking and asking questions. And then, if meetings continue to be high-quality, we can shorten them for maximum efficiency.
What are the actionable items we can take away/have taken away from all of this brainstorming? One thing we can all use is a checklist of questions we can ask ourselves, in order to stay accountable. When you begin your day, consider how you’re addressing work — are you reacting to things in your inbox, or are you prioritizing work you know you need to get done? A good way to find balance is by setting a time limit. Perhaps you start your day with ten minutes of correspondence, put the rest aside for later, and then jump into your personal and/or collaborative work?
Another thing to assess about your workday is how long you spend in your inbox and Slack messages. If you find yourself spending more time discussing than working (or the reverse), then it could be helpful to again set a time limit for yourself.
Of course, it’s difficult to “get to work” if you don’t know what work you need to complete. Size up your tasks in a way that makes most sense. Some people like to begin with smaller tasks, so they can get those out of the way before completing larger ones. Other people prefer to start with the hard stuff. Decide what defines your best practices and stay true to those. Doing what works best for your style will help you be more efficient. As will keeping a diary and calendar! You may feel like a student again, but aren’t we all students? Embrace your inner student and improve continuously.