As initiatives get bigger and headcounts get smaller at large organizations, business leaders are challenged to do more with less. Despite their best efforts, it’s easy for productivity to tank when time-wasting workplace conventions and habits continue.
Common unproductive tasks can lead workers to spend less than half of their time on their main jobs. One survey found that U.S. employees at enterprise companies of 1000 or more employees only spend 45% of their time on primary job duties. The other 55% is spent on email, meetings, administrative tasks, and interruptions.
Here’s a look at five time-wasters that are draining your team’s productivity and taking time away from creative and innovative work, and what you can do to help them get more of the important stuff done.
1. Constantly Checking Email
Is your team spending more time than you think on email? Last year, Inc. reported that email takes up 23% of the average employee's workday, and that average employee checks his or her email 36 times an hour.
Still, email doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. According to the 2017 State of Enterprise Collaboration report, despite the rapid adoption of collaboration tools, 58% of IT decision makers had seen increased email usage at their companies.
It’s unlikely your team is trying to waste their time in email. Maybe they’re worried that someone might need something from them and they don’t want to leave anyone in the lurch. Or they are waiting for information from someone else, so they keep checking back. Or perhaps you’ve set the expectation that you can get immediately get ahold of them through email.
Collaborative work management (CWM) platforms can help reduce the reliance on email to manage projects by giving teams a space to organize and manage their work outside of their inbox. According to The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Collaborative Work Management, Q4 2016, the CWM market “provides solutions that enable teams to have a centralized location to work collectively.”
2. Attending Status Update Meetings
How much time does your team spend in ineffective status update meetings? You know the kind. Everyone gets into a room to discuss what they’ve been working on, where they are on a project, and what they’re going to work on next — while taking time away from actually doing the work.
If you’re having your team spend an hour getting updates on things that may or may not be relevant to the work they’re doing, it’s time to reconsider your approach. A work management platform like Smartsheet can help show the status of every element of the project in one place, without gathering everyone for a stand up.
Not only that, but with Smartsheet you can also easily request status updates through the platform, so they immediately know what information you’re looking for and where to put it. You can also create a status report that’s automatically sent out to key stakeholders each week to show them that your projects are on track.
3. Reminding People of Deadlines
Are you or your team members spending time reminding people of upcoming deadlines and checking in to make sure work is on track? Not only does this contribute to the volume of unproductive email, it’s not a very productive use of your time.
There is a way to help your team and cross-functional collaborators stay on top of their deadlines. You can create automated reminders in Smartsheet based on the milestones or due dates laid out in your project plan and schedule, content marketing calendar, product launch plan, etc. For example, you can have Smartsheet automatically send a reminder to those responsible and accountable for a task three days before it’s due, and another on the day it’s due.
4. Searching for Information
Searching for the information they need to get their work done can be a significant time-waster for your team. According to a study by IDC, 36% of a typical knowledge worker’s day is spent “looking for and consolidating information spread across a variety of systems.”
There is a way to get all of the information everyone needs to complete a project or manage a process in one place. According to The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Collaborative Work Management, Q4 2016, CWM platforms “[reduce] the need to search through email threads to find related communications.” CWM platforms also integrate with content management solutions such as Box, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive for Business, so updated content is associated with the designated workspace or task and easily available to the entire team. This further helps to reduce time wasted searching for attachments in email.
5. Reacting to Interruptions
According to the American Psychological Association, “even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone's productive time.” Some of these interruptions might be of a more social nature, but they often take place in the form of a search for information, project status update request, or an attempt to track down approvals to keep a project moving forward.
By automating approval requests and update requests, your team can help cut down on those interruptions. People can respond when they have a moment, without being actively interrupted. You may also want to establish and communicate “interruption-free” blocks of time with your team, so they can have some time that’s free from interruptions for deep work.
Create More Time for High-Value Work
Take a look at the time wasters your team is facing, and see what solutions you can implement to help them take back the time for high-value work. Not only will your team be happier, they’ll also be more impactful.