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!
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!
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.
- 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?
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