How to improve office productivity: Part 2


Following on the'5 common office distractions that can have a real detrimental effect the office productivity, which included Facebook and even a fish pie cooked in the communal microwave; there are always distractions around that can take the focus away from your growing to-do-list.

Below are another five key distractions that you might be able to identify in yourself or maybe a work colleague.

Let's kick off with something that used to be the bane of my working life.

Office Productivity: 6. Meetings

I used to be in a role where my working day seemed to be an endless stream of meetings, either internally or with external suppliers. When meetings become as frequent as they were for me, it becomes difficult to set aside uninterrupted blocks of time where you can focus solely on projects.

If like me you find yourself coming in early or staying late to catch up with work that you couldn't do because of meetings, then it may be time to review your calendar. Are all the meetings essential? Could you do some of them via telephone or Skype? Try and schedule in as many meetings as you can together so that you can free time to focus on other projects. Block out large sections of your calendar to allocate time to do other things and try and set time limits on meetings.

Office Productivity: 7. Visitors

I've found, especially in larger organisations, that clients or other members of staff will drop by for a chat with a cup of tea and a digestive, often without any prior warning. What tends to happen is that somebody will spark up a conversation with you and then before you know it, five or six people have been distracted and are joining in the chat about the X Factor or something equally mundane.

Try and get to the point quickly and be conscious of the affect the chat is having on other people in the office.

Office Productivity: 8. Expectations

We've all been there ' focused on a project, usually with a looming deadline, and your boss emails or rings demanding that your attention be shifted to something that is more important, but usually only to them. This is where you have to put some time blockers in place so that you can focus on your own-to-do-list.

When you need to return that call or respond to that email, do you need to do so within minutes? In my current role, I put an out-of-office on both my landline and my email if I need to deliver a project within a certain timeframe. I inform people when I will be free, giving them an expectation as to when I will be get back to them.

Remember you can always allow a 'VIP' through your Outlook. This will ensure, for instance, that your boss's email will get through and you can then make a call on their 'urgent' request.

Office Productivity: 9. Hunger Pangs

You've skipped breakfast, either because you fancied an extra 10 minutes in bed or perhaps you are on a mission to lose weight. Then come 10am all you can think of is grabbing that croissant and latte from Starbucks. Skipping breakfast won't aid your dieting; in fact it will probably have the opposite effect with your metabolism kicking into starvation mode. You will then want to snack on anything you can get your hands on and in the meantime you're cognitive skills will probably be found wanting.

Research has found that people who eat a balanced breakfast are far more likely to be able to maintain a healthy weight. And skipping lunch is even worse for your concentration levels. Your body expects to be refuelled at certain times of the day, so substituting your lunch for 14 cups of coffees isn't the greatest strategy. You may have more hours of productivity and you can sycophantically illustrate to your boss that you are the real deal, but the reality is that you will be so lacklustre, that come 3pm, 'all you will be able to concentrate on is Chicken Tikka.

Try arming yourself with fruit and nuts to graze on during the day and ensure that your breakfast and lunch aren't just full of sugars that will give you a quick fix but a long term slump.

Office Productivity: 10. You

All the other nine distractions that I've listed can be managed. But often the biggest distraction is you. We all have our 'off' days where our concentration levels are waning. However, if you are finding these days are becoming all too frequent and that you are struggling to focus on what you are doing at work, then this could be because of one of two main reasons.

The first reason may just be lack of focus in your current role. Try to identify what factors are interfering with your working day and try to make changes that will improve your daily productivity. If you can outline a clear timeline on projects, distractions will always be easier to avoid.

And secondly, to put it bluntly, this may not be the job for you. If you are scrambling around for any excuse not to get on with your day to day work, then really you are doing yourself and the company no favours and it could be time to look for something else.

Thanks for reading and should you require any further assistance with your recruitment strategy or if you are looking for a career move, you can read our 2012 HR Guide here, or don't hesitate to get in touch with me here, or you can join the LinkedIn Response Knowledge Network here.

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