Have you ever finished out your day and wondered, what did I get done today? You’re not alone. So, what happened? I’m sure we didn’t squander the time away, I’m sure we did something productive… right? Maybe, on average, we spend 28% of our workweek managing email and other communication and another 20% looking for internal information or finding someone that can help with a task.
You’ll find many articles written about how collaboration tools like slack, teams, and hangouts that are intended to make us more productive have made us less productive. We’ve effectively moved email communication to less meaningful, less searchable and more distracting social media type communication. According to a Microsoft study, it takes an individual 25 minutes to get back to the task they were working on prior to being interrupted.
We’ve become addicted to the new workplace collaboration tools; they’ve become our digital water-cooler. As with any tool, if wielded poorly, it will yield undesired results. In some organisations, the conversations are riddled with emojis and giphy images with topics and channels ranging from what’s for lunch today to the latest gossip. An average slack user sends over two hundred messages per day; that’s a lot of interruptions.
Our newly found and beloved collaboration tools are here to stay. When used appropriately, they can be an effective collaboration tool. We can only hope that the companies making them put more effort into controlling productivity loss.
Until then, if we want to be more productive, we must be cognizant of all workplace distractions. Like email, many of these tools have a mute feature; not everyone needs to know about Bob’s weekend fishing trip.
How can we regain productivity?
- Avoid constant distractions from notification alerts by muting them as these can be detrimental to productivity.
- Carve out times during your day to answer emails and messages.
- Spend 15 minutes each day prioritizing your to-do list.
- Prioritize by return on investment or importance.
- Break down items at the very top to tasks or sub-tasks which can be accomplished in one day.
- Move one days’ worth of tasks to a separate one-day to-do list
- Focus on today’s to-do list. If something “urgent” comes up, prioritize it. Avoid the firefighter trap.
- Note distractions – you may find FAQs which are great candidates to be included in an internal wiki site.