Risks of losing efficiency at the workplace are rife and permanent. We must impose a crushing discipline on us and sometimes fight against the others to contain those threats all day long. The best thing to do is probably to tackle them one by one, and measure day by day progress.
To prioritize efforts and maximize results (and therefore efficiency ;)), here are the top 10 enemies of work productivity to supervise :
1- Lack of clear objectives
There is nothing worse than not knowing where you are going, and so not knowing where to go. Without clear goals, it is like moving blindly. The lack of reference and purpose often leads to go in the wrong direction and sometimes end up in a complete deadlock. Besides, in those conditions, the motivation to go forward cannot be much strong.
2- Not setting priorities
Beyond objectives, it is important to establish the list of your priorities according to the importance of each task. This classification allows you to perform tasks in the correct order and concentrate your energy where it’s needed. Otherwise, the risk is to focus on the quantity rather than on the quality, and on the urgency rather than on the importance of the task.
3- Establishing an unattainable to-do list
Unlike the first 2 points, it could be tempting to try to perform too many tasks by overestimating your own capacity. Far from improving the result, this over-ambition would have the effect of stressing you out as well as affecting your concentration on your current activity. Moreover, if the list includes too many priorities, you might reduce its utility since “if everything is important, nothing is important.”
While computers can multitask with no impact on their performance, this is unfortunately not as simple with human being. In fact, according to many studies, doing several things at once reduces (temporarily) IQ by 10 to 15 points ! And the least we can say is that possible distractions abound : writing an email while checking your smartphone while reading a chat while listening to colleagues’ discussion while thinking how fast time goes on…
5- Monitoring your mailbox in real time
A classic case but often a reality. Opening your emails as soon as you get them guarantees you to spend your entire day doing that and, at the same time, overshadow the real importance of requests they contain. You could as well throw your to-do list directly in the trash ! In addition, you might become addicted to this ‘back and forth’ : after answering an email comes automatically the expectation for the next one, and so on…
6. Being regularly interrupted
Friendliness is one of the 1st quality to maintain at work, but it should not be done at the expense of productivity. Each time you are interrupted by a visit, a phone call, a message… even for a short period, you will need an average of 20 minutes to recover your concentration on your current task. If we add the time of interruptions with that required to recover, we quickly reach several hours that are disrupted (if not lost) during the day !
7- Being affected by meeting mania
We spend an average of 2 to 3 hours a day within meetings, that is almost one third of our working time. Given that according to surveys 1 meeting out of 2 is considered as unnecessary, it means that we waste more than 1 hour each day for dispensable meetings. Far more than sick leaves ! For some people, the agenda is nothing but a succession of meetings. And meetings generally calling for other meetings, it is an endless cycle…
8. Becoming a slave of social networks
Social networks have many advantages but they also have a price : they are extremely time consuming. The more you develop your presence in these media, the more attention and intervention they demand on your part what quickly becomes overwhelming. That is the ‘snowball effect’ of social networks. Unfortunately, you must keep up to avoid immediate penalty. Hard to keep the upper hand !
9- Looking for perfection
Productivity requires discipline and rigor, but perfectionism is one of its worst enemies. Indeed, trying to reach perfection might bring you to wreck all your efforts. This might even be counterproductive since, as we all know, “perfect is the enemy of good.” Finally, it does not facilitate delegation, although guarantee of efficiency, for which the perfectionist will naturally show much caution.
10- Forgetting yourself
Last enemy of productivity : not taking care of yourself. Without a healthy lifestyle (exercise, food, sleep), you cannot access to your full potential. The accumulated tiredness inevitably alterates your productivity. On this matter, let us remind that “slow and steady wins the race !”