- More than 9.4 million business firms are owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating $1.5 trillion in sales as of 2015. —NAWBO report (National Association of Women Business Owners)
- About 29 percent of America’s business owners are women, that’s up from 26 percent in 1997. The number of women-owned firms has grown 68 percent since 2007, compared with 47 percent for all businesses. —The Atlantic, a report from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research
- The progress for minority women has been particularly swift, with business ownership skyrocketing by 265 percent since 1997, the report says. And minorities now make up one in three female-owned businesses, up from only one in six less than two decades ago.
Work and life. Life and work. The two are not mutually exclusive because our lives include the work we do, and doing a job we love, pursuing a career we are passionate about requires much of our time and is often our life’s pursuit. After all, it is the combination of not only a pleasurable life but a productive life that cultivates true contentment at the end of each day. And much, but not all, of our productivity has the potential to occur with the job we are hired to do or have created for ourselves if we are an entrepreneur.
With more than 51% of the workforce in the United States predicted to be made up by women at the end of 2018, women have the opportunity to create and model for others how a productive, engaging and enjoyable work environment can be cultivated.
Today I’d like to share ideas in four arenas that play a role in not only the productivity, but the enjoyment and engagement of the work we do each day.
Office Space & Energy
The everyday lives we live include our full-time job away from home. Unless we work from home, much of our work week is spent in the office, out in the field, traveling, etc., so it is important to do what we can to create an environment we want to walk into each day. From the physical decor to the energy we bring with us each morning, both of these as well as our work ethic play a role in our productivity and satisfaction. Below is a list of details to tend to to ensure the day from beginning to end, each day of the week runs as smoothly as possible. In other words, control what is in our control, so that we can better handle what is not.
- Organize the space: arrange the furniture, desk, necessary files, tables, etc., in such a way that is inviting not only to anyone who comes in to see you, but for yourself when you arrive each morning. I was quite drawn to Dr. Paula Agard’s psychiatrist office in the fifth season of Suits with the neutral color palette, comfortable furniture and organized workspace. Yes, I recognize that having such a lavish budget is not typical, but keeping such details of comfort, calm and thoughtful touches in mind does make a difference especially over time.
- Organize your deskto create a zen, yet inspired place to work — a couple of years ago, I shared a detailed list of 25 Must-Haves for the Efficient Office Desk
- Understand how you work best and adjust what you can to create a space in which you thrive — (i.e., as an introvert, I shared 8 Ways for Introverts to Thrive in the Workplace)
- Create clear expectations and rules for clients, colleagues, even superiors should you be their assistant that enable you to do your job well and thus provide support for others to do their job well also. From protecting your lunch hour, to setting a clear understanding of when emails, messages, and other communications are responded to, once people know they will be hearing from you in a timely manner but perhaps not immediately, you are less likely to be bombarded by unnecessary emails checking in to see if you received their last email.
- Keep the conversation elevated — squash the gossip, and instead talk about first and foremost work or the job at hand, insert a bit of personal sharing based on what each relationship is comfortable sharing, and have a good sense of humor that is playful, but not hurtful. Establishing necessary boundaries protects your energy throughout the day and improves the quality of support for others throughout the company you work. Once it is clear you are not someone to whom gossip will be shared, they will stop coming to you to do so, which will reduce the amount of times you will have to change the subject.
- Celebrate special as well as random occasions — The monotony of a work environment benefits from events that we all can look forward to whether it is the holidays throughout the year, the first Friday for making an office croissant run, or making sure to recognize everyone’s birthday when it arrives. Such celebrations create a culture of support and congeniality that is enjoyable to be around.
Working with Colleagues
- Communicate as clearly as possible and promptly via email or in person depending upon the situation
- Welcome everyone to be share while in meetings or small group conversations.
- Do the job you are expected to do well and on time – be the team player everyone wants to work with.
- Adhere to respectful email etiquette and only send out group emails when absolutely necessary.
- Keep it positive, light-hearted and assume the best when communicating via email. Being aware of the tone we create with the words we choose speaks volumes that can draw us closer or further apart.
- Keep emails concise, polite and brief. And only send when absolutely necessary.
- If you are a manager or head of a small group, allow time during the first meeting to set rules and expectations such as speaking directly to the person you are having a difficult time with and not talking behind their back to another colleague, beginning each meeting with “30 seconds of positive” (this is something our English department head established at our department meetings and it enables us to get to know each other on a more personal level outside of school – our hobbies, passions, etc.) or simply respecting the time that will be given to each meeting and adhering to the expectations on each occasion.
- Respect personal privacy — instead of asking too many personal questions and invading someone’s space, let them open up to you. Let their willingness to share be the barometer for what you can ask them.
- Mind your own business — similar to the previous point, I am an advocate for putting my head down and doing the job that is assigned to me. Perhaps this is the introvert in me because I do enjoy working on my own, but I also find, far fewer unnecessary dramas ensue when I just do my work and let others do theirs.
- A simple “Good morning” and “Have a nice weekend” go along way to establish rapport with colleagues who we may not see outside of our work day.
- Engage in chitchat to say hello and see how the weekend went or how a particular event went that you know your colleague is passionate about again shares you are thinking of them. Just remember to not linger too long as we all want to get our work done and head home to enjoy the rest of our day.
- When you have a choice, work with “growth mindset” individuals. Marie Forleo talks about this concept in her most recent video on YouTube.
Reporting to a Supervisor
Unless we are our own boss, of which 27 million Americans (14%) are doing or starting to do as of 2015, we report in some capacity to a supervisor, administrator, boss, etc. Depending upon the industry we work in, the specific expectations and norms will be unique to our profession, but in general, the list below offers ideas for cultivating a relationship of respect and professionalism as well as opportunity to rise should it present itself:
- do not give them more work
- do what is expected of in the role you were hired
- do your work to the best of your ability
- if you can exceed expectations, do so
- keep track of successes, advancements, ideas for growth, expansion, etc. and share when the time is appropriate or your supervisor asks you for ideas, suggestions, etc.
- keep conversations professional
- be trustworthy and dependable to do the job well and on time.
Running a Small Business
While I have been running my blog for now going-on nine years, I am still a neophyte when it comes to running my own business (although I am thoroughly loving the opportunity to build a business of my own). In my few short years, I do have a few bits of advice I have received from my accountant, lawyer and financial advisor that have helped me along my journey thus far. and I’d like to share them with you.
- Hire a good accountant
- Have a lawyer you trust to answer any questions or help you create your business corporation, LLC, etc.
- Make sure to have the proper insurance
- Save for retirement with a SEP (Simplified Employment Pension)
- Whether you are the only person on staff or not, work from home or not, create business hours that keep you focused, accountable and thus productive.
- Choose contractors and talent that understand your vision and have (as was mentioned above) a growth mindset just as you do in order to grow and roll forward well with the changes of an economy.
- Keep in mind the above suggestions as now you have control over each of these items. Create a work environment others enjoy coming to each day, and adjust as necessary as your business evolves.
- I will be sharing more on the entrepreneurial end of small businesses later this year, but this list is a good start to keep in mind.
With the swiftness of the world, jobs many of us now have the opportunity to be paid to do were not a consideration or in existence 10 years ago. And such a trend shows no signs of changing as we move forward. Doing what we love and enjoying how we do it is the path to success as was shared in this week’s episode of the podcast (#194) and doing it in such a way that respects each individual but also provides clear expectations is a certain route to not only productivity, but more contentment on the job.
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~Why Not . . . Be More Productive? (3 part series)
Image: (1) TSLL’s Instagram