Keen to learn how to increase productivity? You’re not alone. In an age where multitasking seems to be a prerequisite, many of us are looking for ways to meet demand by increasing our output. Productivity is a focus here at RingCentral and our products are designed to help the individuals and companies who use them be as efficient as possible.
Technology can help with the heavy lifting, but there are other measures that we can take to improve our focus and output. We’ve put together a few ‘watch outs’ for things that can affect productivity in the workplace.
Social media overload
The question of ‘how does technology affect productivity in the workplace?’ doesn’t have a definitive answer. In terms of social media though, this particular piece of tech tends to err on the side of being a productivity killer.
Most of us are clued up on the fact that your favourite networking sites are designed to keep users coming back for that dopamine hit the brain produces when we get a notification. If you find yourself spending more time than you’d like scrolling the various feeds, that’s a red flag and a sign you should think about cutting down. Actually reducing your social media time is where the discipline comes in though:
- Clean up the homepage on your phone and turn off push notifications. It should be essential apps only within easy reach.
- A browser plugin that limits your time might help. Or perhaps one that locks you out of certain sites entirely?
- Keep your work computer for work only. Log yourself out of all social media sites on that machine (and put your phone out of sight if that’s a temptation risk).
- If all else fails, deleting your accounts may be the only solution to getting that headspace required to actually work.
For those whose jobs require the use of social media, we’d recommend limiting your use to normal working hours. More on time management later in this article.
How does the workplace affect productivity? Well, unnecessary meetings are a huge roadblock on getting things done. More than once, you’ve probably been called up for a meeting that has nothing to do with you, unsure if it’s rude to decline the invite or not.
Just ask Atlassian, the company behind time-saving tech like Jira and Trello. According to them, the cost created by pointless meetings to U.S. businesses alone is somewhere around the $37bn mark. According to The Mandarin, here in Australia, the average employee spends 5.6 hours of their week in meetings – and 70% of those surveyed felt they were unproductive.
What can be done about reducing the number of pointless meetings? Quite a lot, actually. Your company might like to try the following:
- Set an agenda ahead of time and make sure everyone sees it. This allows people to graciously bow out if it doesn’t concern them.
- Stick to a time limit. A definitive end point can really work wonders in terms of making progress.
- Scheduling a meeting? Ask yourself; ‘Could this be an email?’
As you’d expect, workplace environment and productivity are closely linked. Especially when it comes to noise. Voices and foot traffic in an open office, or family members encroaching on your home office, are common sources of distraction we encounter. It’s a pretty simple fix – noise cancelling headphones work wonders for concentration in the office. At home, set clear boundaries: working in a dedicated space is ideal; if it’s a shared space, moving your desk to face the wall helps lower potential distractions. And again, headphones. Still no peace? A ‘backup’ workspace (local hotdesk, library, or the peace and quiet of your own home) can be a lifesaver.
Poor time management
Deadline ‘fear’, staying in the office too long, becoming distracted by checking your email, reluctance to prioritise – these are all examples of poor time management that can seriously thwart productivity.
What’s the solution? First decide on your priorities and make a list. Doing this the night before your working day will clear your head and get you feeling organised. You’ll also make a quicker start in the morning. Another tip would be to set deadlines and stick to them – but be kind to yourself if things don’t go to plan. If you’re really struggling with a task, make sure you are as distraction free as possible. Switch off your notifications, close that inbox, and turn off your phone if you have to.
Technology can help with this productivity killer too. Products such as Trello, Monday, and Grammarly to name a few examples. RingCentral Office too. It’s designed to act as your ‘right hand’ in terms of organising workflow, team messaging, and collaboration via HD video. Simply put, it’s a more powerful way to connect – and will help keep you productive without feeling tied to your desk.
Multitasking is overrated. Individuals whose attention is ‘spread too thin’ across different tasks are generally left feeling stressed and like they’re not able to do their job well. Multitasking leaves you open to mistakes and the dreaded possibility of starting over. There’s plenty of research to support this fact. Studies show our brains are not designed to focus on multiple things at once and, actually, multitasking can lead to what psychiatrist Edward Hallowel, M.D. calls Attention Deficit Trait (ADT).
How to break the multitasking cycle though? One simple way to do that is to learn what your natural capacity is and get used to saying ‘no’ to things you can’t handle. Or, better yet, ask for help in doing so. Teamwork and productivity in the workplace go hand in hand, and there’s nothing wrong with sticking to your limits or asking for a little support now and again.
Less sleep means less physical and mental energy to perform at your job. It’s that plain. Some of us can get by on just a couple hours of sleep but most mortals need their full eight hours in order to feel refreshed for the day ahead.
Not getting enough rest can show in more ways than just yawning more often: impaired judgement, poor concentration, decreased communication, and caffeine cravings are all signs of a bad night’s sleep. Getting a good night’s rest is all about ‘sleep hygiene’, i.e. having a set ‘bedtime’ routine that gives your body cues that it’s time to rest. That routine could include measures like switching off devices an hour or so before bed, reading a book, and making sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet.
We’re all prone to the odd cheat meal but keeping a consistently bad diet can negatively affect productivity levels. That mid-afternoon slump that comes after a lunch of junk food is the inevitable comedown that happens when all the sugar and empty carbs leave your bloodstream.
By making sure you’re well hydrated and eating foods that give you a more sustained release of energy you’ll be well set for a productive day. Think high protein foods, like fish, chicken, turkey, chickpeas. Or ‘smart’ carbs like sweet potato, nuts, leafy greens and wholegrains.
There’s no denying that all projects need a certain degree of attention to detail in order to make sure they’re well executed. However, there is a point where fine tuning that piece of work can do more harm than good.
Finding that balance between acceptable standards and actual output is key. ‘Acceptable’ doesn’t mean settling for less either. After all, if you don’t ‘finish’ something how can you learn from it and improve for next time? Embrace your failures as valuable lessons and this way you can keep productivity at an optimum level and standards as high as (humanly) possible.
Getting down to business
Hopefully we’ve offered up some useful information in terms of productivity killers to look out for and ways to remedy them. The benefits of productivity in the workplace might be obvious, but finding that focus and the power that comes with it can be a job in itself.
It’s with that fact in mind that we deliver products such as RingCentral Office. Helpful tech that allows you to make the best use of your time at work. From mapping out a workflow to file sharing, we’ve got a lot of the productivity pitfalls mentioned in this article covered.
Originally published 27 Jan, 2021