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5 Times When Less Is More At Work

5 Times When Less Is More At Work

How many times do you say ‘I haven’t got enough time’ at work? If you are like me, probably a few times a day at least. The bad news is we are not using our time productively. The good news is with a few hacks, we can say less is more at work.

1. Take a few more breaks

This seems like a contradiction when time is so scarce. But when you think about it, it makes sense because when you are tired, you make more mistakes and are prone to bad decisions. Research shows the more breaks you have the more productive you become. Breaks can be a respite from mental activity such as surfing the web or a more physical one when you stretch, talk a walk outside or have a real coffee break. Watch the video below where, in a few more enlightened companies, the policy is to take, not just a break, but a nap!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t9wKu2s0GQ

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The results are there for all to see. Healthier, more relaxed employees work better and are more productive.

2. Spend less time gossiping

Gossip can be trivial or toxic. When you start wasting time on the toxic stuff, be prepared for this to come back and haunt you. It can spoil relationships and fuel resentment. The statistics on this are shocking as well. According to some Dutch researchers, a whopping 90% of office conversation is gossip. It also creeps into emails where it can take up as much as 15%.

So, while gossip can be useful sometimes in helping to isolate slackers, it is generally best to avoid. The first thing you can do is leave it out of your emails. That is a good start. For the rest, gossip is like weeds in the lawn and your best defense is your right to remain silent, when you feel it is choking the atmosphere. If you have problems in escaping, don’t forget you have an important phone call to make!

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3. Cut out being overly competitive

If you are competitive and trying to get one up on your colleagues all the time, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. According to one UK poll conducted by YouGov, about 33% of workers are very competitive. But almost half of the workers surveyed thought this destroyed team spirit.

Competition can be positive, of course. Most employees want to get up that career ladder. You have to find a good balance, though. If you are always trying to be the best and are always sucking up to the boss, then this will breed mistrust and resentment. You could become very unpopular.

4. Reduce multi-tasking

Reducing multi-tasking can have enormous benefits. With a little bit of better planning, you can get going on projects and keep a laser focus on the important tasks. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

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  • Cut your to-do list to the bare minimum of the top five priorities. This is the recommendation from Laura Vanderkam, who wrote the book, “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.”
  • Stop the knee-jerk reflexes when responding to emails as they come in. Yes, I know some emails require an immediate response but they are in a minority. You can also alert colleagues they cannot expect a reply within a certain time span.
  • Try to do the top priority tasks early in the morning before you get submerged by phone calls and meetings. Make sure this time is not interrupted.
  • Make sure incoming message notifications on all your devices are blocked.
  • Use your smartphone alarms to help you stay on task.

“Email is the world’s most convenient procrastination device.” Julie Morgenstern

5. Spend less time eating at your desk

If you think grabbing a sandwich to eat at your desk is a good idea, think again! This reduces your networking time with colleagues and associates when you could be eating with them. This time is a great investment because you can:

  • Build a more extensive network
  • Concentrate on getting to know other hubs and units
  • Ask for help and advice
  • Share tips on problem-solving
  • Discuss new projects

Think about that sandwich. It saved you 20 minutes but was that a wise investment of your time?

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Try cutting out all the time wasting unproductive stuff we have mentioned above. Go for more laser-focused work and you will be able to leave the office on time, instead of burning the midnight oil. Let us know in the comments how you discovered less is more at work.

Featured photo credit: Time to go home/Alan Cleaver via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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