I am sharing my thoughts here with individuals, enterprises but primarily to Startups, unlike established enterprises they don’t have luxury to afford large manpower to waste time on non-productive tasks, so enterpuner must be very vigilant on the productivity of HR.
If you work in a large enterprise, you will spot the persistent waves of phone calls, visitors, emails, meetings on critical projects and other important appointments that continually fill up your calendar throughout the year. At the time these all activities seems very important and unavoidable but have you ever look back over the last month and evaluate whether they were really that important to meet yours’s assigned KPI, did such activities helped in improving your career or contributed in your Organization’s growth? Were such activities safeguard you from unpredictable disasters? Or they just vanished with the passed days unnoticed?
After being working for last 5 years as C-Level Management within different organizations in addition to mentoring few startups, I recently took some time to recap what has worked and what hasn’t in these organization. When compared to my jobs at large enterprises at C-Level to the Startups grew under my mentor-ship the single biggest difference was productivity gains and that I’m considering one resource of startup being able to achieve more than an entire team in large enterprises. So the questions is How it was made possible?
As per my observation the only key to this productivity was focus. A person is more productive when focused on one task only, the more you engage your resources in Multitasking the mental effort of the brain increase resulting in less productivity. A common use case of this switching is when you are running out of time and preparing a presentation with full concentration, suddenly an so called important email arrive or the phone rang which seizes your attention, and then you find it difficult to refocus on the presentation to complete the presentation? High-level of frustration will be observed. That’s multitasking, switching etc. which results distraction, inefficiency and loosing thoughts.
I can feel you already started thinking, where he is coming from, one can’t control the unexpected phone calls, meeting scheduled by boss or the arrivals of emails…. Yes you are right, and it is improbable to recommend that everyone can avoid distractions completely. The objective should be to avoid or minimize cost impact to such distractions, even few steps can improve productivity, out of mahy few suggestions to get started are as:
- Whenever realized you actually are not required to the scheduled meeting simply avoid going for one by gracefully refusing the participation.
- Try to group meeting back-to-back in either half of the day to secure an ample window of uninterrupted work. After practicing this within few days you will observe that your days are more productive than the time when these meetings were scheduled across the day after gaps.
- If you don’t accept low-quality outcomes, don’t attempt Multi-tasking, focus on one thing at a time. If you are into the multi-tasking belive me the switching costs are very high.
- Don’t feel shy to use legacy tools such as a notepad, believe me no matter how sharp your memory is trying to remember lots of tasks will keep distracting you from your primary task. Just keep writing phone calls or other things to do and remove them from your brain till the primary task is done.
- While you focusing on an important task and a phone rings which sounds not urgent, gracefully request them that you’ll get back, write down on paper (notepad refer #4) and return to your previous task. Always call them back later as we are trying to be productive not rude.
- Make several time slots for email checking in a day but should not be exceeding 25% of your day at max, as keep in mind that anything received through email can wait for few hours if it was urgent you may be receiving call. Check emails only when you are ready to focus on emails exclusively.
- If some important task is there and require your productivity at max, here is a tip to boost productivity is to leave your desk to complete the task. Grab your laptop go to some quitter place i.e. meeting rooms in your office even you may go outside office to some coffee shop, library, park etc.
This topic is very broad and vary from person to person. I am confident the above tips may help you becoming more productive at work. Please share your experience or suggestions on tips worked for you or your organizations in comments.