Top Five Habits Of Productive Workers

For many workers, maintaining productivity levels in the workplace can be a daily struggle. But with just a few simple schedule changes, tackling that workload can be a whole lot easier.

Contrary to what some may believe, being a productive worker isn't based on your intellectual abilities and doesn't necessarily mean you are gifted or talented. Quite simply, productive workers are those who have developed and implemented certain habits into their work schedule that specifically contribute to completing their work in the most time-effective way possible.

Productive workers achieve more in less time, and usually leave work feeling accomplished and confident that they have made a difference. Being aware of common barriers to productivity in the workplace, as well as engaging with advice on how to boost productivity to above average levels, can be extremely beneficial to business outcomes. Here are five habits every worker should consider including into their work schedule:

1. Make Lists

As soon as you arrive to work, have a go at making a list of everything that needs to be done that day. Once you have all your tasks in front of you, it is much easier to rank each job from most important to least important. Then write up a timetable of the day so you can delegate a specific amount of time on each job. Lists help workers stay organised, are easy to read, and can make complicated information easy to understand. Reading information in list form will also help make you feel less overwhelmed by tasks, which can improve your mood and outlook for the rest of the day.

2. Cut Out The Unimportant Stuff (And Be Ruthless!)

By ranking the importance of your work tasks, you can evaluate whether or not they are worth spending your time on. For all the unimportant tasks, see if you can push them to a later date, or take them off the list completely. You want to focus on finishing the tasks that are most important before even considering the others and one of the best ways to do this is to be ruthless and cut them out!

3. Try Out The '2-minute' Rule

The 2-minute rule is very simple. If you need to complete a task and know it will take less than two minutes, then do it right away. You never know, you may find yourself surprised at just how many things you can accomplish within a two minute period.

4. Allocate Breaks Strategically

Being a productive worker does not mean you work nonstop for 8-10 hours a day. If anything, people who do that will definitely be less productive than others. If you're
feeling tired from working, having a quick break can make a world of difference to whether or not you finish all your tasks. So if you're ever starting to feel unproductive, have a quick break. This could be walking away from your desk, getting a drink, going to the toilet or having a short conversation with a colleague.

5. Don't Multitask

Even though there are those that think of the ability to multitask as an important skill to have that helps us finish tasks sooner, it can actually result in the opposite! Make sure you commit yourself to finishing a single task before moving on to the next assignment.

Dealing With Negative Feedback Online

For many people, receiving negative feedback can be difficult to handle. But those who receive this kind of feedback online are in an especially unfortunate situation.

When dealing with negative feedback from a customer through an email, letter or face-to-face conversation, businesses can save face by addressing the issue or problem behind closed doors. But when any negative feedback is shared online, in a place that is accessible and therefore viewable by everyone, a business's reputation may face more harmful repercussions.

Any negative feedback found on a business's blog, website or social media sites can be quite damaging to the business's reputation. One simple post has the power to deter future prospects and influence current customers to leave the business. But there is a way businesses can turn a negative online incident around, by following just a few simple steps.

  1. Read the comment carefully to determine exactly what the customer's problem is. Then figure out a way to fix the problem. It might also be a good idea to document the message, so you can use it for training purposes if this kind of situation arises again in the future.
  2. Do not delete the comment or message. As tempting as it may be to hit delete so no-one else can see it, deleting messages may show others that you have something to hide. However, there may be times when it is appropriate for businesses to delete comments, such as ones that are derogatory or offensive.
  3. Address the comment as soon as possible. The majority of internet users expect instantaneous responses. Timeliness is key here.
  4. Maintain a calm and collected manner when responding. Keep in mind that this is an online scenario, so your response will be judged by who you're talking to, as well as anyone else who is following you.
  5. When replying, include an apology if required. This is your opportunity to turn a negative incident into a positive one, by showing everyone how well you deal with customer problems.

Co-operative Competition

Traditionally, to be successful meant being better than your competition in every way, shape and form.

But for some businesses, it may just be in their best interest to look into working
collaboratively with their competition.

Times have changed. Business is no longer about working against the competition to gain the upper hand. Instead, some businesses have discovered the benefits of co-opetition, working with competing businesses in order to enhance specific areas of a business or the overall quality of a business.

Co-opetition can result in many beneficial outcomes for businesses. These may include product or service improvements, reputation enhancement, or even gaining a more informed understanding of the industry. 

Businesses who work together can share ideas, resources and generate discussion about the industry. Regularly interacting and exchanging information with one another, means businesses can gain quality advice and insights from other industry experts.

Keeping in regular contact with other businesses is a great way to build strong relationships with competitors, and can be of great assistance when facing industry challenges. These challenges may
include working with difficult customers, adopting new marketing strategies or adapting to any changes to rules and regulations.

Although they may be similar in some areas, each business does have its own strengths and weaknesses, and businesses working collaboratively may find that their strengths and weaknesses compliment each other. Working together can also result in finishing projects and achieving goals in shorter timeframes, which may not have been necessarily possible working independently.

Another positive for businesses working together is the possibility of gaining new customers through referrals. Businesses don't always necessarily target the same audience. By working alongside another business who has a different clientele than you can mean more business without the risk of losing customers.

Small Business Company Tax Rate Cut

Parliament has passed legislation which will implement a 2015 Budget measure to reduce the company tax rate from 30% to 28.5% for companies that are small business entities with an aggregated turnover of less than $2 million. The company tax rate for corporate unit trusts and public trading trusts that are small business entities will also be reduced to 28.5%. For all other companies that are not small business entities, the corporate tax rate will remain at 30%.

Importantly, and also announced in the Budget, the maximum franking credit that can be allocated to a frankable distribution will be unchanged, so the same rate of 30% will continue to apply to all companies.
The amendments will apply for the first income year beginning on or after 1 July 2015 and for subsequent income years.

Accelerated Depreciation Write-Off for SMEs

Legislative amendments to implement a 2015 Budget measure to support small businesses have made their way through Parliament. The legislative amendments will allow a short-term accelerated depreciation write-off up to $20,000 (up from the $1,000 threshold) for assets acquired by small businesses. The increased threshold of $20,000 will apply only to assets first acquired at or after 7.30 pm, legal time in the ACT on 12 May 2015, and first used or installed ready for use on or before 30 June 2017. From 1 July 2017, the threshold will revert to the $1,000 threshold.

The rules around asset eligibility do not change. That is, if an asset was eligible for immediate deductibility under the $1,000 threshold it will continue to be deductible under the new $20,000 threshold.
The ATO has confirmed that both new and old/second-hand assets remain eligible.
If the entity is registered for GST, then the GST exclusive amount is taken to be the cost of the asset. Where the entity is not registered for GST, the GST inclusive amount is taken to be the cost of the asset.

An eligible small business can claim an immediate deduction for any software costing less than $20,000, purchased off the shelf, that is used exclusively in the business. An eligible small business can also claim an immediate deduction for the cost of developing software for use exclusively in its business, where that cost is less than $20,000. An exception applies if the entity has previously chosen to claim deductions for in-house software under the software development pool rules. In this case the costs need to continue to be allocated to that pool.

TIP: Remember to keep records of purchases to substantiate claims. The ATO will monitor the use of the accelerated depreciation. In this regard, the ATO has said, if "small businesses exhibit behaviours that indicate a high level of risk, they can expect a higher level of interaction from the ATO".

The legislative amendments also allow primary producers to claim an immediate deduction for capital expenditure on water facilities and fencing assets, and to deduct capital expenditure on fodder storage assets over three years. The accelerated depreciation write-off for primary producers will apply to assets that an entity starts to hold, or to expenditure an entity incurs, at or after 7:30 pm, by legal time in the ACT, on 12 May 2015.

TIP: The ATO has confirmed that eligible farmers will be able to choose whichever rules benefit them the most, and that this can be decided on an asset-by-asset basis.

R&D Tax Incentive Rate Reduction Back In Spotlight

In the 2015 Budget, the Government reiterated its intention to change the rates of assistance under the R&D tax incentive to 43.5% (down from 45%) for eligible entities with a turnover under $20 million per annum and not controlled by a tax exempt entity, and to 38.5% (down from 40%) for all other eligible entities. This would apply from 1 July 2014. The Government has introduced legislation proposing to make the necessary changes.

Registration is a critical first step in accessing the R&D tax incentive. The deadline for lodging an application for registration is 10 months after the end of a company's income year.
With effect from 1 July 2014, a $100 million threshold applies to the R&D expenditure for which companies can claim a concessional tax offset under the R&D Tax Incentive. For any R&D expenditure amounts above $100 million, companies will still be able to claim a tax offset at the company tax rate.

TIP: The ATO is working closely with AusIndustry to identify taxpayers who may be involved in aggressive R&D tax arrangements. Taxpayers should make sure their claims are attributed to activities consistent with their AusIndustry registrations, and expenses (eg labour costs) were actually incurred on R&D activities.

Age Pension Changes On The Way 

The Government has proposed legislation to give effect to several changes affecting the Age Pension. The assets test free areas will be increased to $250,000 for a single homeowner and $375,000 for a homeowner couple. The assets test threshold for non-homeowners will be increased to $200,000 more than homeowner pensioners, ie $450,000 (single) and $575,000 (couple). However, the assets test taper rate at which the Age Pension begins to phase out will be increased from $1.50 of pension per fortnight to $3.00 of pension for each $1,000 of assets over the relevant assets test threshold. Those whose pension is cancelled will automatically be issued with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) or a Health Care Card. The changes are proposed to take effect from 1 January 2017.

Work-Related And Rental Property Claims On ATO's Watch List

Tax time is in full swing and the ATO has highlighted areas of concern for individuals ahead of tax return lodgment time. High on the ATO's watch list is work-related expense claims that are significantly higher than expected. In particular, the ATO will be paying particular attention to claims that have already been reimbursed by employers and expenses that are, in fact, private. These items are not deductible.

TIP: You are entitled to claim deductions for some expenses that are directly related to earning your income. The expenses must not be private, domestic or capital in nature. If the expense is both private and work-related, you can claim a deduction for the work-related portion.
The ATO will also keep a keen eye on rental property deductions. The ATO will be playing close attention to:

  • excessive deductions claimed for holiday homes;
  • husbands and wives splitting rental income and deductions inappropriately for jointly owned properties;
  • claims for repairs and maintenance shortly after the property was purchased; and
  • interest deductions claimed for the private proportion of loans.

TIP: You can claim expenses relating to your rental property but only for the period your property was rented or available for rent (eg advertised for rent). If part of your property is used to earn rent, you can claim expenses relating to that part of the property. You will need to work out a reasonable basis to apportion the claim. Please contact our office for assistance.

Share-Economy Service Providers Need To Assess Tax Implications

New internet and mobile technologies have allowed people to consider enterprises such as letting a spare room, letting a car space, doing odd jobs or other activities for payment, or driving passengers in a car for a fare. However, the ATO has warned that individuals providing such share-economy services may have tax obligations, which may include declaring income and registering for GST.

TIP: It may be prudent for all share-economy service providers to assess whether they are meeting their tax obligations. Please contact our office for assistance.

The ATO has also confirmed that people who provide ride-sharing services are providing "taxi travel" under the GST law. It said the existing tax law applies and therefore drivers are required to register for GST regardless of their turnover. Affected drivers must also charge GST on the full fare, lodge BASs and report the income in their tax returns.

TIP: Recognising that some taxpayers may need to take corrective actions, the ATO is allowing drivers until 1 August 2015 to obtain an ABN and register for GST. The ATO said it does not intend to apply compliance resources regarding GST obligations for drivers prior to 1 August 2015 – except if there is evidence of fraud, or other significant matters.

 Important Tax Dates

14 August 2015

Due date for lodging the PAYG withholding payment summary annual report for large withholders (annual withholding is greater than $1 million) and payers who have no tax agent or BAS agent involved in preparing the report.

21 August 2015

July 2015 monthly activity statement – due date for lodging and paying

25 August 2015

2014/15 quarter 4 activity statements, due date for lodging and paying, if lodged electronically by a tax agent or BAS agent

28 August 2015

Due date for lodging the Superannuation guarantee charge statement – quarterly, and paying the super guarantee charge for quarter 4, 2014–15, if the employer did not pay enough contributions on time

28 August 2015

Taxable payments annual report – building and construction industry



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