Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. How to stay motivated when everyone else is on vacation
If you’re sitting in a half-empty office right now because most of your coworkers are off on vacation, it might feel like you can’t move forward on projects until people get back because no one is around to give input or sign off on work. But there are ways to make the most of times when you’re the only one around, writes Dorie Clark in the Harvard Business Review. She suggests embracing “deep work” – the projects that require significant blocks of time to think through and really dive into. “When everyone else is on vacation,” she notes, “the level of inbound messages drops dramatically. That gives you more freedom to schedule uninterrupted blocks of time to tackle important projects you’ve been putting off, but which could significantly benefit your career.” She also suggests devoting a day to cleaning up minor tasks that never get a chance to reach the top of your to-do list (like cleaning off your desk or dealing with expense reports) and taking advantage of the extra time to connect with colleagues who are still around.
2. You and your staff might have different ideas about what it takes to be productive
When it comes to designing offices that keep people happy, focused, and productive, it turns out that workers have very different opinions than their companies’ leadership does, writes Andre Lavoie in Entrepreneur. In fact, one study found that 63 percent of executives surveyed said that their employees had the tools needed to filter out distractions, while only 41 percent of employees agreed. Among other recommendations, Lovoie suggests that managers ask employees for feedback about what’s causing distractions; offer private work spaces (and move away from the open space offices that have been gaining such popularity in recent years), including providing quiet rooms throughout the office that aren’t right next to phones and spaces used for collaboration and using white noise for “sound masking;” and supply people with noise-cancelling headphones.
3. Ask yourself these questions each day
“One of the big reasons people don't get as much done in their job is because they work on the wrong tasks for too long,” says John Brandon in Inc., writing about the importance of looking closely at what you’ll do each day and why. He suggests asking yourself eight questions every morning before you do any work, including: What do I really need to accomplish today? Is this work going to be valuable to me and the organization? Am I finishing this work because I like to finish things or because it needs to be done? What happens if this work is not completed? Are there tasks I need to do but that can wait until tomorrow? “You might decide to focus on other things or to abandon a project altogether, and that's OK,” he says. “Eliminating a few tasks will help you finish the work that needs to be done, and you might end up working fewer hours. That's the ultimate win.”