Partner of ActionCOACH Spain, mentoring and business consulting expert.
From the Industrial Revolution to the present, our society has undergone more transformation to everyday life than in the thousands of years prior. In recent years, the technological revolution has led to drastically exponential changes, resulting in profound improvements to people’s lives and helping companies achieve productivity that was previously unimaginable.
However, all these magnificent advances in productivity and efficiency have brought practices that generate enormous inefficiencies in companies. In my experience working on time management with hundreds of entrepreneurs, executives and employees, I’ve concluded that more than 90% of people waste between 15%-40% of their workday as a result of technologies created in the digital revolution. This means that most employees miss 2-5 months of work a year. It begs the question: Despite the great advances brought on by the technological revolution, can we also navigate the enormous dysfunctions to our productivity that come with it?
Here are three:
A tool of enormous utility, email can also be an enormous time-waster.
With computers and mobile phones announcing the arrival of every new email, it’s inevitable to leave the current task you’re working on in order to read it. These interruptions move us away from focusing on what’s important. It generates distraction, dispersion and stress.
Then there are emails that are sent to every person in a given company even though many of those individuals don’t need to be included. Another way people are spending time on unnecessary tasks, especially when they are followed by long replies and courtesy responses.
2. Messaging Apps
Texting and messaging apps like What’sApp are another source of distraction. When large group chats are created to communicate within the company, in many cases, the information being shared isn’t relevant to most of the group. The devices emit sounds and warning signals that interrupt our workflow, generating once again distractions and inefficiencies. Top that with messages being sent after work hours, and these apps now prevent the disconnection from work that’s necessary to oxygenate the mind.
3. Lectures And Teleconferences
Employees will often excessively communicate with each other over phone calls or digital tools such as Zoom or Skype. It’s the result of a lack of definition of the responsibilities and functions of each job and department and leads to multiple queries and interruptions. These disruptions mean a loss of productivity that can be alarming for business.
Preventing The Misuse Of Time
The consequence of all these inefficiencies presents itself in what we call “hour 6 of the afternoon.” Many workers remain on-premises after 6:00 or the end of the workday because it’s the only time when they have no interruptions and distractions. This is the most evident result of the inefficiencies caused by the misuse of time, which are, in turn, caused by the misuse of digital tools, among other causes.
For this reason, I often propose the following measures.
1. Instead of reading mail at any time of the day, create time slots (at the start of each morning, perhaps around lunch, or at the end of the day) to allow for more efficient time management. Have your staff propose specific time slots as well to send emails and messages.
2. Avoid excessively long emails by imposing a character count and only send to those directly involved.
3. Remove popups and acoustic and luminous signals from your devices to avoid checking emails and messages outside of designated time slots. Encourage your people to instead focus on what’s important for their job and to add value to the company.
4. Get out of all groups that are not necessary, or ask third parties who send unwanted messages to stop.
5. To prevent excessive communication between people, the key is to correctly define jobs and responsibilities, accompanied by key performance indicators to know the degree of performance of each person. All this should be accompanied by the corresponding accountability process.
Once corrective measures are put in place to prevent these productivity losses, companies will see tremendous progress and employees will begin to enjoy stress reduction and increased motivation.
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