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How to Ensure Employee Productivity in a World Full of Distractions

How to Ensure Employee Productivity in a World  Full of Distractions

From Facebook to Pokemon Go, modern day employees have it pretty tough when it comes to distractions in the workplace. Although technology can also help them achieve their at-work goals more efficiently and effectively, it can also serve as a serious determent when it provides a more entertaining experience than the work they have in front of them.

If you’re an employer struggling to find the balance between offering an enjoyable work environment while also getting the best work out of your employees, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to achieve a workplace culture that fosters independent work, while also inspiring productivity and efficiency. Fortunately, there are several simple steps you can take to become more effective in your efforts to increase employee productivity without cracking down on employee fun.

Here are five ways you can ensure employee productivity, despite the many disruptions your employees face in today’s workplace.

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1. Keep your employees happy

In a recent study conducted by Warwick University, employees surveyed showed a 12 percent spike in productivity when they met criteria that considered them to be “happy” at work. The same study showed that unhappy employees showed a 10 percent decrease in productivity. Moral of the story? You need to make sure your employees enjoy their work environment if you want them to perform to the best of their ability.

A report on the study generated by Go to Meeting explained that some of the key factors involved with employee happiness include the quality of their relationships with coworkers, commute time, how well they get along with their managers, the degree of control they have over their work, and whether or not a natural work environment is accessible.

If you’re looking to increase productivity among your employees, consider each of the areas mentioned by the report, and think about what you’re currently doing to increase your employees’ satisfaction with them. Things like planning a few team building days, investing in ongoing leadership training, and offering spaces for your employees to work on benches outside of your office for part of the day, could really go a long way in keeping your employees happy.

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2. Understand where your employees excel

Few things are worse than attempting to complete a task in a timely manner when it involves skills that are outside of your own expertise. If you’re looking to have your employees work as effectively and efficiently as possible, it’s important that you take notice of their strengths and weaknesses, and assign their roles based on their abilities. Sure, you want to foster growth and encourage learning among your employees, but forcing them to work in an area where they are weaker will only leave them less happy and less productive.

If you’re at a loss when it comes to effectively managing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, I recommend checking out this guide for a little help. It explains a little bit about how you can appropriately assign your employees’ tasks based on their strengths, while also guiding them to grow in areas where their performance could stand to improve.

3. Keep meetings light

We all get annoyed when we’re pulled away from current projects to attend meetings that seem kind of pointless. If you notice that employee productivity is lacking, a surplus of meetings could be the culprit. By scheduling and attending unnecessary meetings, your employees lose a significant amount of time from their days that could be better spent executing the projects they’ve been asked to oversee.

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Start to notice your meeting scheduling habits and consider whether or not you could stand to cut a few out of your daily routine. Once you’ve trimmed down your day a bit, ask your employees to do the same. Ask them to consider whether or not they feel that some meetings could be handled as a simple chat with a smaller group, in order to save some time and resources. You could also share this post from the Moz blog with them as well. It will surely give them a few good tips on scheduling more productive and effective meetings.

4. Consider a project queue platform

There’s something about having a to-do list that magically makes your work seem more organized and constructive. Providing a platform for your employees to create and complete their own to-do lists, will help them organize their work without making them feel like you’re imposing on their desire for autonomy.

An online platform I’ve had the best experience with is Basecamp. This platform allows you to create shared or individual projects, load up to-do lists in your queue, and collaborate with others using a shared file space. Your team could use a platform like this to either organize solo tasks, or facilitate the process of collaborating on group projects.

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5. Help them take ownership of their work

A critical component of productivity is accountability. Employees who take ownership of their work are more likely to work diligently to see it through to completion. Although many employers try to take the route of attempting to make their employees hold themselves accountable for their work, this is rarely effective. They key is to help your employees find projects that they can really call their own, and produce a finished product that they can feel accountable for.

SoapBox HQ offers up an excellent article that explains how you can help your employees take accountability for the work they produce.

Now that you’ve got the tips to get started, it’s time to analyze your current employee productivity efforts, and see how you can implement these concepts to send your employees’ performance through the roof! If you have any questions or additional tips for fellow readers, I’d love to hear them. Let me know in the comments below.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via static.pexels.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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