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10 Things Productive Teams Don’t Do

10 Things Productive Teams Don’t Do

Productive teams are the proverbial golden goose for a work environment. Everyone wants to produce a team that is effective, healthy, and always working at a productive maximum. However, finding this place of productive ‘flow’ can be exceptionally hard to pin down, particularly when you’re dealing with a big team, with conflicting personalities, goals, and roles within the team. It’s no easy task finding that balance between happiness and efficiency.

So, if you want to know what those lucky productive teams do in order to be at their productive, happy best, then check out our guide to what productive teams avoid doing, and see if you can be the change you want to be in your own workplace.

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1. They Don’t Rush Blindly In

One of the best and most important assets of a productive and useful team is that each and every member takes time to think clearly about what they’re doing before rushing blindly into a new situation or task. A solid, productive team has a cool head and a calm manner in approaching new situations. They react, think, and then take proactive actions, all while planning ahead and considering what the best course of action might be. If you’re looking to make your team more productive, then encourage them to stop, think, and then act, rather than rushing in blind.

2. They Don’t Argue Over Responsibilities

One of the biggest productivity drains involved in teamwork is the delegation of responsibilities and the division of labour among an entire team. Yes, everyone has their duties, but a productive team has every single member picking up any slack and handling their own portion of duties without complaining, whining, or negotiating. A productive team works only when every member of that team knows their responsibilities and duties and does them. It’s as simple as that.

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3. They Don’t Inhibit Each Other’s Growth

Is there anything less productive and more destructive than colleagues who hold one another back? Not much. A team needs to be a cohesive unit, but more than that, it needs to be a supportive home for members, in order to help facilitate their own personal growth and development. Being a constrictive force within your own team is not only a patently cruel and selfish thing to do, it’s also a big hurdle to cross over for your whole team. Sitting down with every team member and ensuring that their own personal and professional goals and development are being met, is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page and creating a supportive, buoying environment for everyone on the team.

4. They Don’t Gossip

Let’s face it, gossiping is one of the biggest problems happening daily in the global workplace, It’s destructive, it’s petty, and it’s very unproductive, leading to an unfocused and divided team. A focused, productive team has their bonds and their discussion points, but they never let it derail a day or a meeting, and keep things focused. In fact, they try and save a lot of their socialising for after work, when they get a chance to unwind and relax, away from the stresses of work.

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5. They Don’t Become Obsessed With Email

Email is one of those double-edged swords of the modern workplace. Yes, it’s useful and a wonderful tool and device, but it can also be extremely addictive and time-consuming, checking your email every five minutes rather than knuckling down and getting into that special sweet spot of ‘flow’ that often describes working to your productive peak. Productive teams try and make email something that they check on a semi-regular, and regimented, basis. No aimless flickering around deleting spam here. They clear and sort their emails quickly for later reading, and deal with urgent messages quickly when it’s needed. Cut down on unnecessary email time and your team will soon be humming with productivity.

6. They Don’t Have Too Many Meetings

Meetings can really slow down a team’s productivity, and while it can be nice to catch up and work every single minutiae of every aspect of your work together,having way too many meetings can really slow down on actually getting work done. It’s not that meetings themselves are full of useless chatter or such, it’s more that blocking out a good hour or so per meeting, can really make your day a stop-start affair. You get into the flow of some work, only to find yourself having to go to a string of meetings about unrelated projects or queries that make it that much harder to get back into the swing of things. Productive teams have their meetings, but only when necessary and no more than one or two a day.

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7. They Don’t Neglect Their Needs

The concept of working these days hasn’t moved on much since the 80s- we’re all in a struggle to work harder, faster, and more productively than ever before. However, for a team, working hard all the time can actually stop them from being at their productive peak. Truly productive teams are more aware of their flaws and foibles and take time out of their day in order to take a break and properly rejuvenate. A productive team uses all of their lunch break, takes walks around parks, and does stuff completely unrelated to work in their lunch hour. Taking a break isn’t a weakness for a productive team – it’s a strength.

8. They Don’t Hide Their Concerns

A productive team don’t hide things from one another, particularly when it comes to the important stuff such as when to address an issue, or raising concerns about a potential problem or concern at work. Hiding things helps no one, and if you work in an office that is all about working through specific chains of operations and processes, hiding problems or queries is incredibly detrimental towards the effective and productive working of the team. Keep things open and honest with your work colleagues and teams and you’ll be able to resolve issues quicker and be more productive and happier as a result.

9. They Don’t Take Work Home With Them

One of the most productive things that a team can do is to leave their work behind them in the office and keep the realms of work and home as separate as possible. A productive team socializes after work but they make sure to focus on their other – and many would say vastly more important – aspects of their lives, such as home and love and family and leisure. If you’re fixated on work all the time, it means you are unable to gain perspective and enjoy a full and well-rounded life, which in turns negatively impacts upon your workplace and productivity. Don’t think you’re earning brownie points by working overtime instead of going home and sleeping – chances are you’ll be performing worse over time as a result.

10 They Don’t Fail To Work Hard and Be Kind

The most important thing a team can do in order to be truly successful and productive is to work hard and be kind. It sounds sort of simplistic, but it really does work wonders on even the most unproductive teams. Working hard is key to being part of a successful and productive team, but being kind is equally vital. Being kind helps a team function, allowing team members to rely on one another for reciprocity and for altogether strong team functioning. The old maxim of ‘work hard and be kind’ is more apt than you know, and if you want to transform your team into a productive powerhouse, this lesson is the most important ideal to implement.

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

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