Advertising
Advertising

5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive

5 Tools We Always Use Which Actually Make Us Unproductive

It’s 2015, and technology has come far enough that we human beings are being more productive than ever!

Well, at least, we wish we were.

Some of the very same technologies that were invented to make us more productive are, as it turns out, actually making us less productive. Is it the reliance on technology? Is it that we cannot be invested in things we barely are able to take part in? Research into the various tools and software that we use to stay productive doesn’t give a single, clear answer, but it does offer some insight into what tools are making us less productive. Take a look at these five:

Advertising

1. Calendar Software

Let’s take calendar software as an example. Sure, it helps keep things nice and orderly. You have the ability to collaborate with others, share it and it will be there on any technological device you have on hand (for the most part). However, there’s a double-edged sword.

Calendars that are built to be shared or on a platform of some kind run the risk of drawing you in to check your invites for ten minutes, or adjusting the tag colors of the meetings, or even run the risk of someone else cancelling and rescheduling an event. Now you have to go and chase down everything once more and then enter it in once again to your specifications. Kelly James-Enger, author of “Six-Figure Freelancing” swears by writing down appointments and notes by hand on old-fashioned calendars to save time and stay productive

While calendar and scheduling software do allow for keeping us informed on the go, they also come with the downside of distracting us more than they actually keep us in order – ironic? Not really. Our modern minds do love to wander when it comes to menial tasks and scheduling an appointment isn’t a far stretch beyond the definition of menial.

Advertising

2. Messengers and communication software

Instant messaging has made things a lot more, well, instant. That means things are super-efficient and fast now, correct? Well, to some degree, sure. However, instant messengers between students or in a workplace have been shown to take the focus off of the actual point of quick communication and inspire a lot more procrastination and gossiping. Quite a few big companies have taken to implement chat software and communication methods that cut down on employees being tempted to look away from their work and chat on how cute the new employee is or commiserate about the boss (a few of you have done it, admit it). In short, instant-messengers have a lot of great uses – they just come at the cost of making us less productive. Sound familiar?

3. Powerpoint

A beloved aid to teacher and student alike, as well as in the corporate world, Powerpoint has proven to be very popular. Popular though it may be, studies have shown that Powerpoint is greatly reducing the amount of productivity, learning and involvement that comes from the people using it. It might be a bit sardonic, but staring blankly at a white sheet with bullet points on it never did feel very productive. That aside, teachers and students still swear by this tool, but those studies have pretty much shown that a big percentage of those lovingly clinging to Powerpoint are probably doing so because of how little effort it invokes in them.

4. Smartphones

That crotchety old man who you see in TV shows that is always yelling about how things were better in his day, and us whipper-snappers were having our brains turned to mush by all of the modern technology we now rely on? Yeah, he’s still someone you should probably ignore, but the problem with smartphones is that they’re working much more smartly than we are.

Advertising

“But I can do so much more work now!” you might protest, “I’ve never been as organized and productive as I am with my smartphone!”. OK, great. That neat little device does carry a lot of things to make us more productive. You know what else it carries? Games, Netflix, text-messaging and plenty of other wonders that are making humans even less productive with them than without. It is in the eye of the user, of course, but studies have shown that smartphone owners tend to waste a significant amount of time getting nothing done while others are being more productive with less.

5. Management software

A few business owners out there just shuddered. Management software is typically a big suite of software that companies bring in to address all of their needs: it has a database, a calendar (oh no), the ability to send out email blasts, and it almost never ends up being a perfect fit. The scenario goes: you find the right suite, buy it, spend the time and money getting it implemented, your workers trained, and dollar signs dance in the distance. However, then employees start tweaking it to better suit their needs, or the patch update messed things up, or so on and so forth.

Many who have gone through this process can attest to how much time was wasted repeatedly trying to get the software to work for everyone, or sometimes at all. A one-size-fits-all solution for a business or individual is a dream come true, but it typically remains a distant dream while we become more and more unproductive trying to work around what is meant to be making us lightning efficient. Poetic irony, I suppose.

Advertising

When it comes down to it, many of the tools we use to be productive today are a double-edged sword. The laptop I am typing this on now has a bunch of games calling my name, and it is almost comical how potent the sting is. Remember: staying productive is in your hands, and there are always workarounds and ways to adjust your attitude, environment and tools to better help you remain productive.

Featured photo credit: giuseppemilo via flickr.com

More by this author

Learn to code Learn Coding For Free With These 10 Sites 4 Ways to Send a Money Transfer Online INDX.guru 8 Powerful Hidden Features in Stock Market Apps You’ve Probably Missed 4 Apps To Turn You Into A Stock Market Pro (You Should Use) “I would be so successful if someone just gave me a shot”, you might think. Why not be the one to give youreself a shot? Many people out there have mindsets and attitudes that set them up for failure. They might answer my question with, “That's a crazy idea!” or “I've already tried that!” but how much of that is just making excuses? When it comes to limiting your own success, there are ten particular mindsets that turn those answers into self-fulfilling prophecy: 1. Loafing You'll write that novel just as soon as you're done with your favorite show. Oh, but now you're hungry. You'll get started after a snack. Oh, but now that snack has made you sleepy – a little nap couldn't hurt, right? One of the hardest parts, and the most obvious, of achieving success is the actual work. Procrastinating, making excuses or tricking yourself into loafing is just going to cement the fact that nothing will ever get done. It might not sound pretty, or even too easy, but the easiest way to get to success is to just jump in and get going (which is exactly how I got started). 2. Blaming It's not your fault you're not successful – the industry is bad, you don't have the money, etc, etc. When it comes down to it, however, who is the one responsible for your success? You. This is the day and age where people are launching successful start-ups in a few months, getting published online and finding their way to success one way or another. Some things might be out of your control, but blaming others is just going to waste the energy and time you need to get going. 3. Sour-grapes Being envious of the success of others is almost as bad as blaming them. All the time and energy you could be putting into your own goals is going towards a person who more than likely has done nothing but show you that the goal is attainable. You don't have to be applauding their success, but being envious and sour about it is a waste of time – let it roll off your shoulders and dig down towards accomplishing your own goals. 4. Minimizing others success Again, you don't have to be cheering and raving about the success of others, but minimizing their accomplishments looks bad on you and on your own goals. If you attained success, would you want others rolling their eyes and treating it like it is not a big deal in the slightest? I highly doubt it. “So they climbed Mount Everest, big whoop. Plenty of people have done it before”. Have you? 5. Talking You're going to do this, you're going to do that – the proof is in the pudding, ultimately. Talking about your goals and what you're going to accomplish is all well and good, but talking time is better spent actually doing. Talking about your goals has actually been shown to make you less likely to reach them, so zip up those chattering lips and dive in. 6. Making assumptions You know what they say about the word ‘assume’, it makes (a word I’ll leave out of this article) out of ‘u’ and ‘me’ . Unsuccessful people are the best at making assumptions without considering other outlets or opportunities. Missed chance after missed chance can put anyone behind or completely ruin something that you poured a lot of hard work into. People are often surprised at what happens if they take a chance instead of listening to that little pessimist inside their heads. ‘Never assume’ is good advice and it is a mindset you should get out of as quickly as possible. 7. Procrastinating This one is obvious, isn't it? It's about the same as loafing, but even worse because it applies to multiple areas of our lives. That big project? Eh, its not due for a week. My dreams? Eh, I'm going to be taking a class to learn how to write in a few months, I can relax until then. Procrastinating isn't the friend of successful people. Many of them had to learn how to either make procrastination work for them or to barrel through it and press on, even with the proverbial sloth demanding you park it on the couch. 8. Naysaying “It will never work. It is impossible, I just can't ...”. That is about when it is time to take a good look at yourself. There are a plethora of people out there that once thought the same thing: you can't get a man into space, you can't find a way for a human to fly, you can't cure a disease. Well, people did what was once considered impossible. If they can defy the entire world, why can't you defy your internal pessimist and get there? Don't tell yourself that it is impossible. In the world we live in today, it seems like impossible is becoming a word that gets weaker every day, and the same is true of your goals. 9. Consuming Fast food, energy drinks, trash TV – your brain is sobbing at the thought. With all the time spent taking in things that are not good for your brain or body, how can anyone expect it to happily balance out and produce the stuff you need to achieve success? Your output should be greater than your input; though you don't have to take the starving artist spiel literally. The point is, your production is where the value is, not the absorption. 10. Quitting “Well, I tried.” Sure, you tried once. That horse is shaking its head and trotting off to find someone who will get back on it. There's nothing necessarily wrong with cutting your losses sometimes. After all, no experience is ever truly wasted, but quitting is the top enemy to successful people. If you believe in something, if you want to find that success, there is no road map. You may very well have to carve your own path through treacherous jungle. If you give up the first time a mosquito bites you then you've doomed yourself already. Success, in large part, is about the human being in the arena. People cheer for them, their struggle and victory, but the person who watches idly and scoffs, having never tried has also never really lived. Mindsets are not set in stone. It is never too late to get started and change your perspective. After all, achieving success is completely up to you – you are the one making excuses and holding yourself back. You are also the one that will decide when it is time to stand up and get back into that arena. 10 Bad Habits That Stop People From Achieving Success

Trending in Productivity

1 We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why? 2 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 3 How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 4 14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress 5 11 Things You Can Do to Increase Employee Productivity

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

Advertising

Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

Advertising

It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

Advertising

Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

    Advertising

    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

    More Productivity Tips

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next