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The Top Productivity Killers and How To Fix Them

Distractions in the workplace are everywhere, and it’s a wonder anything gets done.

CareerBuilder surveyed more than 2,000 human resource managers from a variety of industries and company sizes to identify the worst productivity offenders.

Fifty-two percent say cell phones and texting hamper workflow, 44% say the Internet is a problem, 37% admit that gossip hurts productivity, 36% cite social media, 31% say email gets in the way of work, and talkative coworkers and meaningless meetings round out the bunch at 25% apiece. More than a nuisance, the study found that consequences from these distractions include a compromised quality of work, lower morale for the employees who have to pick up the slack, a negative boss/employee relationship, missed deadlines, and lost revenue.

So how can leaders rid their organizations of the productivity killers—or at least lessen their impact? Company policies help mitigate the problem—such as blocking certain Internet sites and banning cell-phone use while on the job—but management experts say more can be done.

Here are seven things leaders can do personally to model positive behavior that can also boost their own productivity and eliminates distractions in the workplace:

Problem: Not Knowing How Time Is Spent

Cure: Keeping a time journal

Keep a time journal and write down what you do and the percentage of time you spend on various tasks and responsibilities, such as answering emails, conference calls, and putting out proverbial fires. Within that snapshot, analyze when you were most productive, When were you least productive? Of everything you’ve listed, what really matters? Anything that qualifies as ‘noise’ or is extraneous to your company’s mission and core strategies isn’t vital.

If you focus on the vital few and eliminate the trivial many from your daily agenda it will help you be proactive about doing more of what’s essential to your success.

Problem: Being Constantly Interrupted

Cure: Send a clear signal about when you're unavailable

Set up personal systems to stay focused on work. For example, close the door to your office, or if you’re in an open workspace or cubicle, wear headphones to tune out the noise. I have a friend who puts a ‘do not disturb’ sign on her cubicle and wears headphones. The headphones, however, are not hooked up to anything. She believes it sends a strong message to people who are tempted to ignore the sign.

Problem: A constantly dinging smartphone

Cure: Use apps to block notifications

The "do not disturb" feature on an iPhone or Quiet Hours on Windows phones will block calls that interrupt your focus. You can configure the app to let certain people or communications through, or simply silence or set your phone aside to keep it from distracting you.

Problem: So. Much. Email

Cure: Designate blocks of time to wade through your inbox

Instead of checking your inbox constantly, designate blocks of time to work through email. If you're worried about missing an important email, uses filters that route keywords or senders, such as your boss or client, to a specific folder, and check that folder more often.

Problem: Deadlines Keep Flying By

Cure: Create accountability around goals

Project deadlines will keep you and your team on track, especially if individual goals are shared with other members of your team. Accountability breeds responsibility. Competitive employees in particular will thrive with deadlines.

Problem: So. Many. Meetings

Cure: Only meet when there is a clear agenda

Don’t call a meeting if you can meet your objective through other means, such as email, project management software, or an electronic status update. If you do need to hold a meeting, only invite the relevant players and only meet when there has been an agenda published prior to the meeting. If you are invited to a meeting that doesn’t have an agenda, avoid the meeting.

Problem: Coworkers draining your energy

Cure: Surround yourself with positive and productive people

Much like laughter, productivity can be infectious. Stay away from negative people or those who like to waste time; they will drain your energy. Instead, align yourself with the company go-getters. People who view the glass half full not half empty. Watching how others make themselves productive can inspire us to act similarly.

If any of this information has inspired you, I urge you to contact me today for a free 30 minute no obligation consultation to help you develop Abundance in your Company and Significance in your Life!

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