Three “Aha’s” When it Comes to Workplace Productivity

Whether you work in an office or a retail setting, productivity can be a tricky subject. On one end, people often find themselves overwhelmed by productivitylethargic or unmotivated. Both ends of this spectrum leave people desperate for ways to become more productive.

We’ve researched some interesting tricks as well as tried and true methods to boost productivity for yourself or for your employees. Here are three areas to self-check whether you can make improvements.

Merge the Daily Plan with the Two-Minute Rule

Many sources on productivity advise you to create a daily plan. In it, you want to identify the tasks that do the most for your bottom line. In business, typically 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of your results. Experts suggest that you pinpoint the most important things to accomplish in a day or week and focus on that. Some experts also recommend that you stay away from busywork  – those things that keep you occupied but don’t actually affect your bottom line.

However, we found that list bit to be bad advice.

John R Meese is an expert on productivity, self-leadership and influence. In his self-titled blog, he wrote, “How The Two-Minute Rule Saved My Life From Overwhelming Confusion.” The rule is simply this: any time you have a task that you can complete in two minutes or less, do it right away. Respond to emails, organize your space, file your documents, or whatever. This method not only helps you whittle down your to-do list, it gives you momentum to accomplish other tasks for the day.

Furthermore, this “busywork” turns out to be something people like doing. Ilya Pozin wrote for Forbes online, “4 Surprising Truths About Workplace Productivity.” In it, Pozin presented the results from a University of California, Irvine study that revealed employees are happiest when performing rote tasks. Why? These tasks – the ones you can knock off in two minutes – are stress-free and come with a sense of accomplishment when completed.

So you can have a daily plan to help you stay organized, but don’t ditch the busywork. For yourself or your employees, incorporate the 2-minute rule. Start your day with these “mindless” items, and you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted without stressing out over the task at hand. Additionally, it will put you in the mood to continue being productive. If appropriate, continue to follow the 2-minute rule throughout the day for an ongoing sense of accomplishment and motivation.

Let in the Social Media

While there is a risk that employees will waste time on social media, the right tools and responsible employees will actually boost productivity on the job. Pozin cited a study by Microsoft, which found that “46 percent of workers say their productivity has improved thanks to social media and social media tools. A further 37 percent wish their organization’s management would embrace social media tools in the workplace in order to increase productivity.”

In some cases, the productivity tools are those designed to help you do more in less time when managing your business’ social media accounts. This obviously results in more productivity. However, allowing people to graze social media sites every once in a while improves mood. If you haven’t already figured it out, happy employees are productive employees.

It doesn’t stop there. Great managers know that happy employees are those who feel like they make a difference. People can find a lot of leads, information, and ideas from and about social media. Let your team use these channels to get their creative juices flowing. Listen when they share new ideas, and implement the good ones. Reward and recognize the people who contribute to these positive changes.

Time and Temperature Make a Big Difference

You may have noticed how productivity slows in the summer, and it isn’t just your imagination.  People simply aren’t as productive in the warmer months. Temperature extends beyond the seasons, though. The indoor temp of a building has a direct effect on productivity. If it’s too cold, people experience feelings of sadness and loneliness. On the flip side, too much heat causes sluggishness. “The Substitutability of Physical and Social Warmth in Daily Life” by John A. Bargh and Idit Shalev published here states that the ideal working temperature is 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Productivity also fluctuates throughout the day. For a regular “9 to 5” job, productivity rises around 11 am and peaks between 2 and 3 pm. This is especially important to consider when scheduling meetings. Planning a meeting after 3 pm will likely get you the poorest results.

When it comes to meetings, in fact, you may want to scale them back. Neil Jones, head of marketing for eMobile Scan, wrote, “12 Ways To Improve Productivity At The Workplace.” In it, he suggests managers spend more time on action and less on meetings. When you need to have a meeting, begin on time, stay on track, be clear about its purpose, and allow employees time to show results.

The productivity “sweet spot” will differ for individuals, but there are some rules of thumb that will help you get more work done.

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