There are so many issues that hinder our efficiency at work ranging from straightforward distractions to incorrect task distribution. They are very rarely addressed. There is now a growing body of research that provides us with loads of insight on how we should organize our workdays, along with our workspaces, in order to achieve better results.
We now know that high-stress levels dramatically reduce the engagement of workers and stimulates absenteeism. Furthermore, given the age that we’re living in, our attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter, which compromises the quality of our work.
So how do we make a collective more productive both in times of high pressure and when there are no pressing deadlines ahead? In this article, we’ve compiled the best solutions to these issues.
Eliminate vagueness from your employees’ to-do lists
You hired your employees because they’re highly-qualified professionals in their fields, and they’re great at what they do. When workers have to deal with irritating tasks that are outside their competence and not really worth their time — irritation starts to build up. It is essential to let your workers perform tasks that best suit their skill set.
“A collective’s productivity is about removing unnecessary barriers. When ten professionals are working on stuff that has nothing to do with their qualifications, the process stalls, which is a problem whether or not you’re dealing with an incoming deadline.” — Amanda Sparks, marketing specialist and founder of Top Down Writer blog.
It is often the case that to-do lists are very poorly structured. The most common issue that generally misrepresents the amount of work an employee has to put in and the number of hours they’ll have to invest is when to-do lists feature projects and not tasks. Tasks are much smaller and more actionable, whereas projects are vague, due to their complexity.
Similarly, a problem that often hinders productivity is when workers aren’t informed about which task is more important, which leads to poor time management, due to the fact that all tasks are treated equally.
Use The Benefits Of Modern Technologies
The cognitive crisis that the world is now going through has motivated a large number of developers, investors, cognitive scientists, and other professionals from a broad spectrum of domains to start working on apps and tools that are designed to improve our attention span.
Brain FM is an excellent example of such tools. It provides its users with recordings that have special sound waves incorporated, which help them become more focused, relaxed, or even improve their meditation. This isn’t a unique service, there are many analogs on the market today that wow their customers with accessibility, variety, and affordability.
Maybe this is what the future of work looks like and perhaps fifty years from now sitting at work without having your brain stimulated is something like a counter-intuitive thing to do. Why would you willfully refrain from being productive?! Anyway, apps like these are definitely worth giving a try, and your employees may find them very useful. Here are a few popular brain auditory beat stimulation apps, along with a few apps aimed at improving logic and focus:
- Fit Brains Trainer
- CogniFit Brain Fitness
- Brain Fitness Pro
- Personal Zen
Experiment With Group Meditation
Meditation has been in the center of attention for quite a while. There is now a growing body of research that suggests that the practice of meditation has great benefits for people that are trying to lead a productive lifestyle. Here are some of them:
Lower stress levels. It’s no secret that frequent meditators are less prone to stress than people who don’t. This suggests that meditation is an incredibly beneficial practice, especially in times of high stress, un the pressure of deadlines. At the same time, however, it is also a great way to stay productive during periods where there isn’t a pressing deadline ahead.
Better working memory. Meditation is proven to increase the capacity of retaining larger amounts of information, which is very useful in a performance-centered environment.
Improved concentration. Meditation considerably reduces mind-wandering, which is essential for productivity.
Focus On One Task At A Time
Multi-tasking is very alluring — getting many things done at the same time when pressured by deadlines. There is even an air of professional prestige around it, but multitasking appears to be more of a trap, than a shortcut.
Multitasking as such causes a lot of stress to the central nervous system. The amount of stress is proportional to the number of things you’re attempting to make, along with their complexity. By focusing your mental resources on one task at a time you’re ensuring that it will be executed with maximum care. Therefore, if there’s no pressing headline ahead, it is better to refrain from multi-tasking at all times.
Besides ensuring better focus, single-tasking means better time management. You may have heard about efficiency and time management techniques like the Pomodoro, which is one of the most popular approaches to time distribution and enhanced focus.
“By eliminating unnecessary distractions from your work environment, you’ll find that you can easily lose the negative sensations associated with work, once your mind is concentrated on one central issue.” — Daniel McCoy, social media manager at Canada Writers.
Propose Standing Desks
Standing desks have become one of the more exciting developments in the corporate world of the last twenty years, and they’ve become quite popular recently. These are now in the center of attention because they are known to increase productivity.
A study executed by NHS has found that the employees who made a shift from what is coined as “relatively sedentary work” and adopted a standing desk, have reported that they engage with their daily tasks much better and have less muscle pain and discomfort. Multiple writing agencies like Get Good Grade and Top Australian Writers have also adopted standing desks and have reported increased productivity from their staff.
Engagement, however, is but one of the benefits of standing desks:
- Standing for longer lowers risk of heart disease
- It improves energy levels and mood
- It decreases blood sugar levels
- It combats obesity
Suggest Employees Leave The Office For Lunch
Stepping out of the office on a regular basis is a great idea to take your mind off work for an hour or so. We often underestimate the importance of changing our setting and environment, and the beneficial effect it has on our psychological well-being.
“Going for a walk and focusing on things other than a computer will have a great impact on your creativity and will strengthen your focus once you return to the office.” — James Daily, content editor and author of Brainished.
It’s not imperative to head to lunch specifically. Simply going out for a walk for 15 minutes once you feel like work is getting the best of you will give a sense of ease and emotional balance.
Don’t Hold Meetings Without An Agenda
The vast majority of the meetings we participate in do feel like bootless errand because it’s what they often are. The main reason behind this issue is that there is no agenda and structure to it. Opt for the following rule: no agenda — no meeting.
This will make meetings more productive and less boring, which is absolutely essential when it comes to maintaining a productive environment. Having an agenda also ensures that the time reserved for the meeting will not bleed into other important work-related activities.
Productivity Needs To Be Empowered
A critical aspect of productivity is that it can’t be enforced to have a long-lasting effect, it needs to be empowered. To achieve this, it is imperative to have a good relationship with your co-workers or employees.
The key to maintaining a productive environment, once you’ve succeeded in establishing one is to recognize and appreciate each of the team members’ contributions to it.
Run Performance Audits Once In A While
There is always room for improvement, this is why it is always important to look into possible improvements to your current workflow, and what things can be slightly tweaked, in order to improve productivity, without sacrificing comfort or too many resources. Here’s a basic structure to your performance audit:
- Identify your objectives and select quantifiable criteria to measure improvement;
- Establish a way to calculate and collect data on performance;
- Make a well-researched conclusion based on your findings;
- Identify domains of potential growth and establish a set of actions that need to be undertaken, in order for improvement to be achieved;
- Work with your team members at implementing the improvements to your current workflow.
Improving the workflow of your team is a very complicated task, simply because you can’t just do it yourself, you need to motivate the team itself to partake in the change. By giving your team more power and control over their own schedule and respecting their time and need for rest, you’ll be able to build a more efficient and productive collective.
It’s that day in age when we’re no longer running after the latest technology, we are rather preoccupied with ensuring the sanity and the wellbeing of the people that operate that technology.