For businesses, the bottom line is all about productivity, getting the most from their employees. Companies spend a lot of money trying to learn how to do this. And employees themselves are concerned about productivity because performance reviews, raises and promotions hang in the balance.
There are a number of things that can interfere with productivity, some more significant than others. But there are some minor things that sap productivity that you can do something about without making big changes to your routine.
One speed bump slowing down productivity is email, and more particularly the increasing amounts of spam that clutter up email inboxes. Spam is fast becoming a ubiquitous feature of email, and we are getting more and more of it. It shows up whether you want it or not, and then you have to take the time to clean it all out, time you could be using to do something more productive. A report by Nucleus Research estimates that spam costs businesses almost $2,000 per employee each year in lost productivity.
What can you do about this problem? One thing you can do is install spam filters as part of your IT infrastructure at work. If some happen to make it through the filter, delete them right away, without opening them. Also, you should limit your work email address just for work purposes, nothing else. Set up a private email account for personal use so that your work email address doesn’t find its way onto spam distribution lists.
Another productivity killer is stress. Stress from heavy workloads or not enough time or lack of resources can interfere with you giving your full attention and focus to your job responsibilities and can also lead to longer hours. One way to handle stress is with discipline – tackle the most daunting tasks – the ones that cause the most stress — first, rather than saving them for later. By getting them out of the way first, you help to reduce stress. Another way to combat stress is to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It’s good now and then to just take some time off. Also, as part of your work-life balance, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle – getting plenty of rest and exercise, and eating properly.
Another drain on productivity is office clutter. If you have a mountain of paper on your desk, or you’re not sure where things are because they’re not organized well, you’re going to lose time looking for them. So, the solution to the problem here is to become more organized and reduce clutter. You don’t have to do it all at once. Take a few minutes at the end of each day and go through your papers to weed out the ones that are not needed and to get organized. Eventually, if you stick with it, you should get most of the clutter taken care of.
Keeping an office log is another way to maintain productivity. In the log, record how you spend your time. Then, after a few weeks, evaluate what you have written. What is taking longer than it should, what can be eliminated, when are you most productive?