Work productivity killers – what’s zapping your work productivity? Meetings that run long. A computer bug that takes half a day to resolve. Organizational red tape. We can all recognize snags that sap our work productivity. But do we identify less obvious work productivity suckers that waste time and energy just as easily? “Silent” work productivity killers — such as email spam and even a disorganized desk — may only cause you to lose a couple of minutes each day. But like a leaky faucet left unaddressed, ignoring them can cost you dearly in the long run.
You probably encounter these types of productivity drains every day without giving them much thought. Following are some common problems and what you can do to reclaim the time you’re likely spending on each.
Common work productivity killers
Unfortunately, everyone with an email account knows about spam: those annoying, unsolicited emails that tout everything from herbal remedies to lower mortgage rates. Whether you receive dozens or just a few each day, reading and deleting these messages takes a toll on your time. In fact, a recent report by Nucleus Research Inc. placed the cost of spam at $1,934 per employee per year due to lost productivity.
Your company may have filters to prevent unwanted emails from landing in your inbox, but these measures aren’t perfect. Be extra cautious by deleting suspect emails on sight. Opening them can unleash a potentially destructive computer virus, and responding to them verifies your email address with spam merchants, likely leading to even more messages. Avoid using your professional email address for non-work purposes, such as buying products online or signing up for sweepstakes contests. Instead, set up a private email account to prevent your work address from ending up on spam distribution lists.
Whether due to limited resources, large workloads or a host of other issues, stress is ubiquitous in the workplace. Such strain prevents you from fully concentrating on your responsibilities and also may force you to put in longer hours than you’d like.
When it comes to stress and burnout, what are your options? Many people postpone what they fear will be the most difficult tasks. Take the opposite approach and resist the impulse to take care of less-important duties, such as answering your non-urgent emails, just to “get them out of the way.” Instead, tackle the most critical — and therefore, stress-inducing — activities first. Focus immediately on the month-end report that is due in a few days, for example. If you need help juggling your responsibilities, speak to your manager about the possibility of temporarily reassigning some of your tasks or bringing in project workers during peak periods.
Another good tip: Take some time off. Work-life balance is important, too. You may think you can’t afford to miss work, but in a recent survey commissioned by our company, more than half of executives polled said employees are more productive after returning from vacation.
As surprising at it sounds, your productivity may be hindered by the things that are meant to improve it, like your computer, filing cabinet or address book. A lack of organization and clutter throughout your workspace can cause you to spend valuable time and energy locating resources that should be easy to find.
If your desk is a mountain of papers and empty coffee cups, don’t be intimated; you can start reducing your clutter slowly. Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to do some light organizing, like weeding out old business cards from your Rolodex. Eventually, you can move on to your email inbox, computer files, desk drawers, and briefcase.
Also consider keeping a daily log of your activities to get an idea of how you spend your time. After a couple of weeks, evaluate your notes. You’ll be able to tell which projects are taking longer than they should to complete, what time of the day you are most productive and what tasks can be eliminated.
Because of personality differences in the office, coworker conflicts are inevitable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to prevent these situations from taxing your time, energy and focus.
If you and a colleague are at odds, nip the situation in the bud by suggesting a meeting to clear the air. Often, conflicts are the result of misunderstandings or miscommunication, so try to be as open-minded and conciliatory as possible. In some instances, the source of the conflict may even be your fault, so be prepared to make amends. If, despite these talks, differences still can’t be worked out, ask your supervisor or human resources representative for help resolving the dispute.
No matter how hard you try, it will never be possible to spend 100 percent of your time working on your most important priorities. Unforeseen issues, career setbacks and unpreventable problems will always demand your energy and attention, thereby dragging down your productivity. But identifying the silent productivity killers that affect you most and minimizing their impact will allow you to maximize the hours you spend at work.
OfficeTeam is the world’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals and has more than 300 locations worldwide. For more information, contact www.officeteam.com.
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