07 Oct The 10 Largest Efficiency Killers At The Office
How Many Efficiency Killers Are In Yours?
Do you ever find yourself wondering what the heck have you done all day? You know you’ve been working hard all day, you’ve been rushing about and you barely took a break. You knew exactly what you wanted or needed to get done yet you are left feeling frustrated, disappointed and even annoyed with yourself that you just didn’t. Your intentions this morning were great, so what went wrong? Somehow, you barely scratched off anything off of your to-do list and even worse many times our lists instead of getting shorter end up even longer.
Well, let me tell you, you are not alone and most of the time it’s not even your fault!!! Turns out, after talking with many small business owners, busy entrepreneurs just like yourselves and office workers that it’s always the same things that seem to hinder any kind of progress at work and getting things done at the office. So without further ado, let me share with you the 10 largest culprits / efficiency killers at the office.
Efficiency – Killer #1: Chaotic Workspace
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you too will have noticed that we live in the age of digitization. It’s all about the “Cloud” and “The Next Big Thing” when it comes to technology, you hear buzzwords like the “Paperless Office” everywhere and yet, when you take a good look around the “All American Office” it all sounds more like wishful thinking. The reality looks very different: Our computers and other devices designed to make our lives easier are getting smaller and smaller yet in stark contrast the mountains of papers on our desks and inside our offices seem to be getting bigger and bigger.
Stacks and stacks of papers on everyone’s desks, side boards and even on the floor. All important documents, research papers, printed emails, to-do lists, sticky notes, half-used notepads, letters, reminder notes, magazines, receipts, invoices, how-to manuals and on and on.
It’s not hard to imagine why you no longer can find what you are looking for or at the very least waste a lot of time searching in all that chaos. Everyone understands that this is a problem and recent studies support that knowledge! Office workers / employees estimate that they could save at least 20% of time if not more simply by not having to search for things and the ability to work more efficiently (not only faster but also produce more quality work) if their workspaces were organized.
Efficiency – Killer #2: Workplace Distractions
Did you know it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the prior state of concentration after being interrupted? Unfortunately, office workers get interrupted constantly at the office whether it’s the phone ringing, the email dinging, a customer / client needing immediate help, unscheduled meeting requests, social media updates you name it there are enough distractions to go around to even make the best of us crazy or loose control.
On average, office workers are interrupted every 11 minutes while at work – that is approximately 5 times an hour. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that under these circumstances it’s just a matter of time that the quality of your work will suffer and the things you had the best intentions to get done simply just don’t get done. But there is hope and working efficiently is possible…
Efficiency – Killer #3: Chatty Colleagues
Did you know that approximately 90% of employees are being interrupted by chatty colleagues at least once an hour while working? It’s a wonderful thing when everyone gets along at the office but concentration, productivity and getting things done should not suffer under these circumstances.
“Chatty colleagues”, you know the ones always stopping by your desk for a little chit-chat wanting to talk about the latest football scores, what happened over the weekend or simply wanting to discuss their frustrations at work. We all need the occasional little break, nothing wrong with that but once this becomes a pattern and we frequently get interrupted by our “chatty neighbors” then it becomes clear very quickly what a real efficiency killer – chatty colleagues can be.
Estimations and recent studies show that 90% of office workers get interrupted at least once an hour by a colleague at the office. So it’s no wonder, people want to work from home, at a coffee shop or little quiet rooms to simply get away from it all! We want to be friendly and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but if we really want to get things done, we must point out with conviction that we are busy at the moment. Or simply put up a sign that let’s them know to come back at a later more convenient time for you.
Efficiency-Killer #4 Useless Activities
Participants in a study recently indicated that they roughly spend 11.5% of their working time on things that they themselves find a waste of time. That is nearly an hour a day. No wonder, that there is no time left for the important things to get done. Just for a moment think of all of the things you always do just because that’s just how it’s always been? Have you ever taken the time and thought to yourself why am I even doing this? There must be an easier way, a better way or does it even have to be done?
Whether the issue here lies within management, our bosses just want it that way or we simply don’t know better – fact is, that many employees waste their important time with things that simply are redundant.
Sitting in meetings, talking about the same things over and over without ever coming to a conclusion or writing page long meeting notes that no one ever will read due to the very fact that at the end no decisions have been made, no further steps have been assigned or simply having a meeting that shouldn’t have taken place in the first place just because that’s how it’s always been done.
Efficiency – Killer #5: No Filing – “Rules”
Filing – “Rules” ??? To this day, having actual rules (written down, easily found and/or shared, known and followed by everyone and taught to each new employee) that define specifically where an exact piece of paper at any given time should be filed still seems to be a very foreign concept in offices all across America.
From what I know there are about 72% of businesses that actually do have rules yet hardly anyone seems to follow them or sadly enough employees aren’t fully aware of them. With the result that each and everyday the big search for documents starts again each and every day. Whether you work in a large office, you work from home or you own your own business it really doesn’t matter but for as long as you don’t define rules and systematically follow them the search and waste of your time will continue. A costly mistake and a real efficiency – killer!
Efficiency – Killer #6: Unclear or Inaccurate Instructions
Whether you are a small business owner and only need to discuss things with your assistant or you run a large operation with many employees, open and clear communication at the office is a MUST. Does the right hand in your business know what the left hand does???
Everyone’s time and energy gets wasted through vague instructions, unclear responsibilities and lack of resources count as the core problem of office workers. Here above all, good management that ensures deadlines are known, tasks are clearly distributed, communicated and understood by everyone is of utmost importance. Otherwise tasks will get done twice, inaccurately or sometimes not at all.
Efficiency – Killer #7: Insufficient Training / Knowledge
When it comes to technology at the office, many describe their knowledge as ok, not so great and sometimes even poor. On top of that many have no desire, lack the training or simply refuse to dealing with it and sticking to: “This is how I’ve always done this attitude.” as until now now things have worked out just fine . . . True but just because something works doesn’t always mean it works well and/or efficient. If they knew how much time they could save or how less stressful their days would be simply by consistently using programs to their advantage, programs such as Evernote, Outlook, and task managers such as Asana or OmniFocus to their advantage they’d be thinking about this much differently.
We now live in a world where due a global market and increasing competition that time and efficiency are everything. And it’s not too late, if you want to stay competitive you can easily change your circumstance. It can be intimidating for sure but if you take the time and invest in yourself, your business and your employees to learn how to use these programs then that will be time well spent and saved in the long run.
Evernote is a great tool for storing reference material and what I use to stay organized and on top of things in my business and my personal life. It’s free with a paid upgrade for additional features and more storage. I can no longer imagine my life without it. Here is a step by step setup guide I’ve prepared a FREE DOWLOAD – The Ultimate Guide To Getting Started With Evernote if you wish to learn more. Investing the time will immediately make your work at the office easier!
Effiziciency – Killer #8: Too Many To-Do Lists
If getting things done and staying on top of things is important to you then having a To-Do list is not only a good idea but a MUST. What is the due date? When do I have to present interim results? Who in the company do I ask for the specific information I need? Unfortunately, many people are unable to answer such questions quickly as all too often they have to check different lists first.
In fact, a recent survey showed that 27% of respondents said that they are working with different list. Important information is spread around on sticky notes, different notepads and notebooks, in Excel spreadsheets, in an email, in Word documents or possibly somewhere on the phone. The same study also says that almost 29% are working with no list at all or very inconsistently.
Clearly, there is a lot of potential when it comes to efficiency and getting things done and therefore, I suggest: From now on only work with ONE LIST and make use of tools such as Outlook or Evernote giving you access to all of your information and documentation at exactly the time that you need it. It won’t be long before you no longer waste time searching for important reminders and life will become increasingly less stressful as at any given time you know what to do and where to find or store necessary information.
Start today with a little dose of reality! How many lists are you currently using? How has this worked out for you, are you forgetting things, loose track of items and miss important reminders and/or deadlines? Grab a sheet of paper and give this some thought.
Efficiency-Killer #9: Bad Memory
How often do you find yourself retrieving / re-researching information due to the simple fact that you previously have not written said information down? Would you be surprised if I tell you that at least 10% of the time at work gets wasted doing just that? That is almost an hour a day!
Let’s face it in today’s busy world and the ultimate chaos at the office it’s not only easy but highly likely that we quickly forget something. We can no longer trust that we’ll just remember. Business owners, team members, assistants and office employees alike waste roughly 10% of their actual work time with things such as asking the same questions again, asking for and/or giving instructions more than once as well as reminding others of appointments and things to be done only because things didn’t get written down / notated in the first place.
It’s easy to see how much time gets wasted over the span of a day. Thus one of the very utmost important things you can do for yourself is that you must write things down as they happen. I can only recommend to using your calendar, ONE To-Do List and programs such as Evernote to your advantage. and consistently. Programs such as Evernote provide you with valuable tools such as reminder functions so you never have to forget anything again. If you want to learn more about Evernote – Here is my FREE – Ultimate Guide To Getting Started With Evernote.
Effiziency – Killer #10: File Search On Computer / Cloud etc.
The 10th Efficiency Killer is the very annoying and never-ending story of searching for files and documents on not just your own desk but many times also on your desktop, shared company drives and folders costing everyone valuable time. Thus employees, business owners and pretty much everyone spends approximately a whopping 55 minutes simply searching for files on their computers each and every day.
It’s about high time to not only organize the office, your desk but also your virtual desktop thoroughly and once and for all. And not only for yourself but ultimately so that you and everyone else such as your team, employees and/or (virtual) assistants know immediately where information, data, files etc. are located.
Leading us right back to Efficiency Killer #5 – No Filing – “Rules”, once established and everyone sticking to them can save everyone in your team almost an entire hour of the day, which then can be used for the real important activities such as building your business, creating products and taking care of your customers!
So? How many EFFICIENCY KILLERS are lurking in your office?
I would love to hear what kind of experience you have made, what you are struggling with or what is no problem at all and really working for you. Everyone always loves to hear some inspiration and sometimes it can also help knowing that they are not alone and others are struggling as well.
Please share with us your experiences below in the comments. I am here to help! Ask away! I’d love to give advice and set you up for success and organization and efficiency in the long run.