Anyone who has ever had a job knows the irony of just how difficult it can be to actually get work done while at work. People stop by your desk/office with questions, problems, or fires you need to put out, the phone rings, emails require attention, and, often worst of all, you have to go to meetings -- at which, it seems, nothing ever happens. Still, most companies aren't going to go for a totally meeting-free culture. Here's what you can do to make meetings more productive.
Given their druthers, many would prefer to work with a moderately cheerful colleague, instead of someone who tends to see the dark side of a situation, but maybe they should reconsider. Studies suggest that our gloomier colleagues might have a valuable perspective to offer -- one that relentlessly positive types might not be able to duplicate.
Call it corporate hazing: many companies reward workers, either monetarily or with social capital, for working round the clock, both at the office and after hours. Think about the last time you heard someone at your business described as a "good worker" or a "team player." Implicit in the descriptor? "This is a worker who is never off duty." There's just one problem, of course. Studies suggest that working more hours might actually make workers less productive, not more.
Have you ever had to make so many choices in a given day that you just plain burned out your decision-making muscles? If so, congratulations: you are human, with all the intricacies and limitations that implies. Decision fatigue is real, and if you're suffering from it, the last thing you need to do is beat yourself up for "not having more willpower."
Employers tend to organize work around blocks of time: the morning meeting is from 10 to 11, the orientation lunch is from noon to 1, and so on. There's nothing inherently wrong with that -- throw out the schedule entirely, and workers lose the pressure and relief of knowing exactly when their part of a project needs to be completed. But recent research suggests that concentrating on the clock at the expense of the task might make workers less happy and creative in the long run.
Let’s face it: we’re really busy. Between work, family, networking events, and finding time to eat, it seems like there’s never enough time to actually get anything done. We get stuck thinking about how much there is to do, panicking about deadlines and upcoming dentist appointments to the point that today’s projects just keep getting pushed back until tomorrow. But what if there was a way to actually trick yourself into thinking you weren’t actually that busy?
You've likely heard these adages before: "Many hands make light work." "Two heads are better than one." "The more, the merrier." There is truth in all of these sayings, but there are other, paradoxical truths as well. Extroverts may look forward to group meetings and talking about their progress on the group's project. However, all of this togetherness may be holding the introverts in the workplace back. The most productive office allows people the flexibility and autonomy individuals need to get their work done, and done well.
Want to motivate your workers? Let them know they're being watched. This is less creepy than it sounds on the surface: social psychologists have observed that people work harder when they know that their colleagues are paying attention. It's less about being Big Brother, and more about being part of a community. In other words, if you're a manager, simply being engaged with your employees can make a big difference to their productivity.
You have a mountain of work to do, and only a finite amount of time to accomplish it all in -- and the realities of the workplace and personal responsibilities get in the way. Fortunately, there are a myriad of time- and sanity-saving apps that will make your productivity levels skyrocket.