HR expert and motivational speaker Alan Price discusses how entrepreneurs can encourage business ideas by culling workplace distractions and maximising their own productivity.
Sometimes there are not enough hours in the day, we have a pile of work and yet distractions just get in the way and prevent us from finishing important tasks. Other times we hit a dead end, there are days when we have a multitude of fresh ideas and then the next minute we are dead in the water, our ideas run dry and it can be frustrating. Distractions can be damaging to our productivity and often prevent us from developing our business ideas because our attention is diverted. However there are ways you can prevent distractions and indeed there are new ways of working that will enable you to think differently and hopefully inspire you to come up with fresh ideas.
Let’s talk about inspiring new business ideas. The frustration is that one day you can have a stash of ideas and then the next day you simply struggle to remember what it was you originally came up with. You may have forgotten about the idea that could have potentially been your biggest success. I have experienced this first hand yet there is a simple solution, carry with you a notepad. Whilst this seems clearly obvious not everyone does it. I carry a moleskine notepad with me, it gets carried everywhere, I often get inspired at the most unexpected times so if it is convenient then I write it immediately into my moleskine otherwise I hold the thought and jot it down at a convenient time. I can develop the idea when I get to the office but this concept works great. I’d recommend a small notebook, something that will fit easily into my pocket. You’ll be amazed at how many of my business ideas have originated from just a rough sketch or a line or two that I jotted down.
Be prepared for ideas to arrive
How many of us have come up with a business idea at 3am in the morning? This is why I keep my moleskine at the side of the bed. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t wish to use a notepad, there are many apps available for the smartphone that allow you to jot down your ideas, plus this has an added advantage in the fact that you can email your thoughts to whoever you want. So making a note will go a long way, not only in remembering the idea but also in helping to share and develop it further.
If the workplace is the stem of your problem and you find yourself lacking business ideas, or indeed struggling to get things done then there are work methods that will help you overcome this. Some days I may be full of ideas and then the next I have a total mind block. When I have been sitting at the same desk day in and day out, I find myself getting into a rut, my ideas slowly dry up, my mind becomes stalemate and I need a breath of fresh air, something to inspire me. A couple of years back I had read in the American press that people had decided to abandon traditionally 'sitting at a desk', some managers went one step further and preferred to stand and work. Personally I have not reverted to this but I do believe that a change in scenery is good and can prove to inspire.
A change of work environment
So I decided to try the concept of moving desks and having a change in work environment, I was dubious at first, however I was pleasantly surprised; I did find the change to have a positive effect. It did the trick, it recharged me, it was like working in a new environment. I was coming up with new thoughts, ideas were flowing freely and I found myself getting more work done – it worked. This new method of working had been so much of a success that I decided to roll it out across the company, we now hotdesk, people sit at different workstations each day, the change has been positive for us and it seems to have gone down well with the rest of my workforce.
Finally another workplace distraction are meetings. I made a harsh decision at the beginning of the year to cut down on the number of meetings that I attend. Some days I found myself attending four or five meetings, it restricted my productivity and I knew that I had to do something about it. Some gatherings can be productive but others waste valuable time and I am a strong believer in actions 'speak louder than words'. So meetings are now kept to a minimum, if people wish to bounce ideas off me then they can come and have a chat or pick up the phone but do not invite me to a tea and cake gathering. So if meetings are essential then ensure that they are straight to the point, decide on a maximum duration and stick to it, ensure that everyone else knows what time the meeting needs to end and give everyone an allocated amount of time to make their point heard, this will ensure that everyone sticks to the agenda.
So next time you want to boost productivity consider a change in office layout, reduce the distractions by culling the meetings and remember to carry your notebook because you just never know when the next big idea will strike.
Further reading on ideas in business
See also: Small businesses adopting green ideas