Maintaining productivity is quite a challenge in today’s “plugged in” environment. Most of us have friends, family, co-workers, and have personally experienced the frantic scenario of having to meet a deadline. For most this means
Unavoidable long hours in the office
The possibility of delivering less than quality work due to the time constraints
Unwarranted stress and anxiety that coincides with meeting a deadline
A common problem today is maintaining a high level of productivity amidst the numerous distractions we allow to…well distract us. Whether it’s an email notification, a text message, tweet, blog post shared, or update from any number of apps we check on a regular basis; we tend to be in a perpetual state of distraction and “living in the moment”. Not to mention as a collective, we’re an impatient society, if we want something now we can get it. The same principle seems to pertain with our communication habits; we wait in anticipation for a response and grow more and more frustrated when the response is “delayed”. This sensitivity to time isn’t the only concern, with our constant connectivity to the internet; the prospect of “slacking off” is just a few mouse clicks away. The combination of these common workplace scenarios tends to have an adverse effect on employees allocating appropriate time and prioritizing responsibilities.
Here is a brief synopsis according to a recent Salary.com survey regarding wasting time at work.
- 89% of employees admit to wasting time at work daily
- 31% waste roughly 30 minutes daily
- 31% waste roughly 1 hour daily
- 16% waste roughly 2 hours daily
- 6% waste roughly 3 hours daily
- 2% waste roughly 4 hours daily
- 2% waste 5 or more hours daily
Obviously there is an issue; employees too often deviate from their responsibilities that negatively impacts their performance and their businesses. What can be done to prevent employees from “slacking” and create an atmosphere that allows them to maintain high productivity levels? I’ve noticed a few quick and easy solutions that once employed can assist individuals to focus their attention on their primary responsibilities.
Email filters offer a unique and simple solution to prevent your inbox from overflowing with unread emails. It only takes a few moments to create a filter that will prevent “inbox overload”, which is a scenario that typically “forces” an individual to spend a lot of unwarranted time opening, reading, clicking, and replying to a variety of emails that may or may not be integral to their position.
Two easy filters you can create based on,
- Sender – If you have particular clients, co-workers, or whomever that can be labeled as important and would require an immediate or fast response
- Subject – Set a filter pertaining to certain subjects, such as “Purchase Orders”, or “Office Memos”, as with the sender this should be catered to whatever makes sense for your business.
You can create filters based on whatever you feel is most beneficial to you and your position.
We tend to be creatures of habit. Once we create a routine that yields positive results, we strive to recreate it. Establish guidelines that dictate and automate everyday tasks such as checking email (see filters above), accepting new tasks, delegating tasks, or other day-to-day activities as they arise.
Phone Settings & Placement
Altering the settings of your cell phone is difficult for people to employ, but, try setting your cell phone to silent. Now when you get an update or notification from your phone it will not “chirp” causing you to lose concentration or deviate from your current task. It’s also worth noting that by placing your phone arms reach away; you may be less tempted to check it as often. For those courageous few who will take it further, put your phone in your desk drawer and don’t check it until you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to accomplish.
To Do List
It may sound old-fashion and generic, but, I’ve had a lot of success simply having a “to do list” near me while I am working. A gratifying feeling coincides with crossing items off your list, and, you can easily add items to your agenda. Updating your to-do list makes it easy to appropriate adequate time to complete tasks while not distracting you from your current assignment.
As I said in the title, these are very simple techniques that can offer some success, though there are many more you can employ.
Feel free to comment or add more useful tips in the comments section.