Personal Effectiveness and Responsibility
8 Things You Unknowingly Do That Kills Your Workplace Productivity
Everyone goes to their office to work reasonably diligently and in a calm and steady way for the majority of the time they are there (and some even take their work home with them). However, each individual’s efficiency and productivity while trying to work can be very different and can vary in many ways (in terms of pace and tempo, as well as output at different times of the day). In other words, some individuals have a “high” level of general working productivity while others have a relatively “low” productivity level (or at least for some of the time). This lower productivity can occur for a variety of reasons but often relates to a number of activities that do little or nothing to help people stay focused and get things done. Here are eight of the most common ones:
1. Frequent Breaks
It is okay to take a short breaks at work from time to time – especially as one task/project is completed and before starting the next (and 3 times an eight hour shift is a common habit) particularly if your day is tiring or stressful, but taking a break every 30 minutes or even more frequently is not helpful in keeping your focus on the work you are doing. If you do this, your focus on the particular task is interrupted each time you take a break, and you need to resume the work (reviewing what you’ve done before) again and again. This not only wastes your time and makes the job longer and harder but often drains your energy too.
2. Participation in Office Politics
Getting yourself involved in office politics may sound entertaining but keeping yourself busy with all the gossip and rumors (or just listening to others do it) makes you waste your precious and productive hours at work (and may get you a reputation you do not want). You may not realize it, but becoming a part of a gossiping group at the office can also be unhelpful for your future progress or career. So, be wise and mind your own business when it comes to office gossip and rumors.
Procrastination might work for you at home from time to time but when you are at work, it eats away all your productivity and can help to make you feel much more stressed. The best way to avoid procrastination at work is to set clear targets and deadlines for each day on a prioritized basis (with your important tasks and projects at the top) and try your best to complete as much as you can in the order you should do them by the end of day so that you can get a peaceful night’s sleep at home and start again the next day with a new list of priorities to tackle.
4. Obsession with a Smartphone (or other similar device)
While smartphones are mainly a productivity blessing in today’s corporate world with options of Skyping with clients, meeting with colleagues and in some cases communicating with branch offices from around the country or even the world by text, email and other means, it is also the biggest distraction for employees. The biggest of these is keeping the phone on for text messages, social media notifications and emails and then picking up the phone to review who said what to you every few minutes – once again breaking your concentration. In addition, people who love gaming can often spend time in breaks playing games on the smart device and eat into their non-break hours just to finish the game.
Although it was promoted as a good thing years ago, modern neuro-science research now suggests that multitasking is dangerous for productivity at work. This is because starting multiple tasks and projects at once looks efficient but means lots of switching of your attention during the day (with the same problem we described earlier of having to keep reviewing from what point you now need to pick things up). The solution here is to take only the number of tasks that you can manage (usually only one to three in most cases) and focus on each one by one until you reach a logical break-off point.
6. No Balance Between Social and Professional Life
The key to a successful life is balance between both your professional or working life and your social one – commonly called a “healthy work-life balance”. But these can get out of balance in two ways. The most common is to let work get in the way of home or social life, such as starting work very early and working late and even on weekends (thereby squeezing out your need for relaxation and social activities). Alternatively, a few people let their social life (include late parties for example) spill into their work life (and arrive late, have to go home early) or experience more sickness than they should.
7. Too Much Indecision or Indecisiveness
In order to make the most of your work or office time you should “train” yourself to overcome indecisiveness as much as you are able. This essentially means reviewing the tasks or projects ahead of you and making relatively quick decisions about how they can be best tackled by you, your subordinates if you manage a team or even a colleague when their help would get the job done quicker. By doing this you avoid putting off tasks until tomorrow that you should be doing today.
8. Not Delegating Work
Doing every task and project yourself can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming. If you have a team you can overcome this by delegating to someone who has the skills to assist (and you can give them a clear explanation of what it is you want them to do exactly). But even if you do not have people working for you, you can often delegate some tasks to peers (that they like or are well-equipped to do) and you can return the favor for them when they have task pressure and need some help.
If you are doing any of the above listed things, then know that you are decreasing your productivity level which is not only harmful for your performance but may create a reputation that you are not as efficient and effective as you could be.