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Pardon the Interruption…Get Back to Work!

by Hallie Frair

571 new websites created. 100,000 tweets. 204,166,667 email messages. 47,000 app downloads. These are all rough statistics of how much data is generated every minute. With access to that much data, many employees are finding themselves less attentive at work, and who can blame them? Whether we’d like to admit it or not, it’s nearly impossible to be productive 100% of the time while at work; and I’m willing to bet the majority of employees give themselves somewhat of a break on a daily basis (perhaps even by taking time to read this article!). However, before you get too down on yourself, know you’re not alone…and there are ways to fight the “afternoon slump” and improve productivity levels!

According to a recent survey conducted by Forbes, 71% of the nearly 3,200 workers surveyed admitted to taking short breaks throughout the day; which many believe help to improve productivity levels. But how much is too much?   The amount of on the clock time wasted on non-work related websites ranges significantly from 1-2 hours (29% of those surveyed) to 10+ hours (3%) a week. Of those that waste time, social media is the biggest distraction (14%), followed by online shopping (12%), entertainment (8%) and sports (3%).  Just imagine – if an average employee works 40 hours per week (2,080 hours per year) and is in the top tier of time wasters, that’s 520 hours a year of lost productivity, or 25% of that employee’s total hours “worked”! Further, according to the Center for Internet Additions, employers lose nearly $4 billion dollars each year to internet misuse.

You may be asking yourself, why would anyone waste that much time at work? Well, among the most popular justifications for time wasted are that employees are unsatisfied or don’t feel challenged with their work, they work too long, there’s no incentive to work harder or they’re just plain bored.

No matter where you place the blame, there are still many opportunities to pick up the slack and improve your morale at work. I’ve outlined some suggestions below:

  • Batch together similar tasks – for example considering making all phone calls one after another, or draft and send emails together.  Further, you could limit the number of times you look at your email to once every couple of hours so you’re not constantly distracted by the barrage of emails we all get every day.
  • Understand your body’s timetable – give yourselves breaks as necessary and understand when you’re most productive. If you find that you’re often unproductive during the afternoon, perhaps it’d benefit you (and your company) to get in early and leave a bit early. Also, coworkers are often one of the biggest distractions, so decreasing the number of people surrounding you may help.
  • Establish routines and set priorities – this may mean spending a few minutes each night preparing for the next day.
  • Think long-term – set long-term goals for yourself and post them in a visible place. Revisit these on a recurring basis and develop or change your goals as necessary. You should also make sure to reward yourself for progress towards these goals.
  • Don’t multi task - it’s been found that your brain serves you better if you only focus on one thing at a time. So block out time to do certain tasks, and don’t switch from one activity to another.

Regardless of what position you hold with your company, you should take a few minutes to figure out how the steps above could apply to your own personal work style. But, enough about that…get back to work!

*Thank you to Jessie Hale, Assurance Senior, for her contributions to this post.

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