Here are some things to avoid in your quest to be more efficient …
1. “Busy work”. This is the stuff you do without really thinking about its value. If the task doesn’t bring value to your role then why are you doing it?
2. Doing without Planning. It doesn’t need to be a major project plan, but you should organise your work to (a) make sure you know what NEEDS doing; (b) to have some idea of what is the most important work; and (c) to fit it into your schedule. ALL before you get going … AND this needs to be revisited periodically.
3. Planning without Doing! Some people spend all of their time planning and never actually get to the work … that isn’t good! Fitting into this category would be recruiters who burn hours looking at resumes … pick up the phone!!! OR salespeople who burn hours “researching’ their prospects … get out and MEET people!!
4. Common distractions:
a. The newsfeed (stocks, sports, “breaking news”, Twitter feeds etc.). These can suck HUGE amounts of time. Like everyone else I’m interested in what is going on in the world but PLAN it into your schedule. You don’t NEED to know the minute someone gets traded from your favorite sports team (for sure someone will let you know within 60 seconds anyway… and you will know what they have been doing!). Check those feeds out for 10 minutes before you start your day, at Noon and end of day!
b. The gossips. You know who they are! They might be fun, interesting cute etc. BUT they will burn 20 minutes before you know it!
c. Re-living the events in your work day! Do NOT get into the habit of discussing EVERY phone call you have, EVERY sales call, close etc. As NIKE says Just Do It … you don’t need to relive it. It takes twice as long to get stuff done if you need to (a) do it and (b) talk about it!!!
d. The “coffee run”. I love my coffee as much as anyone, but making a coffee run once every hour, bringing your friend along and ambling down to Starbucks burns a lot of your productive time! Get your coffee on the way in and at lunch time, drink the office coffee, don’t send teams to get coffee … if you MUST go then make it a solo sprint NOT a team marathon! Note: this applies to smoke runs too!!!
e. Personal “stuff”. Sure take 30 seconds to let your mom know you’re coming for dinner … but DON’T have a 30 minute conversation at the same time. Sure pick up the laundry at lunch, or on your way back from a sales call but make it a 2 minute stop on the way, NOT a shopping marathon for a new wardrobe!
f. Muddling through. Every manager likes employees who are able to handle their job autonomously, BUT if you take twice as long on a task or actually make mistakes, rather than ask, you are not helping your productivity. In fact it takes a lot longer to fix things than to get it right first time out!
What kills your productivity? Give some thought to how you might reduce those time wasters!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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