Being productive at work is key to both your company’s success and your career success. Yet, despite the positive payoff, many workers have trouble maintaining high productivity levels throughout the work day — mostly due to factors outside of their control.
The 2015 work management report revealed the following top three productivity mistakes:
1. Working on too many things at once
Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike, tells Business Insider that multitasking hurts productivity because the brain cannot give its full attention to more than one task at a time — it’s why texting while driving is so dangerous.
Filev gives an example to illustrate the harm in multitasking at work: Imagine you have to do thing one, which takes five days to complete, and thing two, which also takes five days to complete. If you do thing one and thing two simultaneously, then you will have both things done in 10 days.
But if you prioritize and do thing one first and then thing two, then you will have thing one done in five days and can go ahead and start reaping its business value five days earlier.
“Under the stress of work we often forget about this example and start working on five things at once, and it ends up taking us five times as long to get the actual result,” Filev says.
While multitasking is harmful to productivity, Filev says it’s a reality of life that workers must learn to work around by forcing prioritization and doing thing one before thing two.
2. Waiting for other people to act
Not being able to work on a project because somebody else hasn’t done their part yet is frustrating. But the solution is simple: Make sure the whole team is on the same page.
The project, whether it’s a logo redesign or a new business plan, should be located online, where any team member can view its progress and see who is holding the team up. Make sure that everyone on the team knows both where you and the project stand — what’s been done, what’s being done, and what still needs to be done.
3. Responding to emails
Email is a 40-year-old technology, so if you’re using it for more than 30% of your day, then something is definitely wrong, Filev says.
While you may think you’re being productive by responding to every email right when it dings in your inbox, Filev says you are actually contributing to the problem by then creating another unanswered email in someone else’s inbox.
What’s more, only the respondent and recipient receive the information, while the rest of the team sits in the dark.
A better solution is to use an instant messaging communication tool (Business Insider uses Slack, for example) where all team members can be in on the conversation, yet no one feels pressured to respond.
Filev says this team communication and cooperation is key to increasing productivity for the future.
“A lot of opportunity to improve productivity lies not just with one person, but more with the team,” Filev says. “I’ve seen teams change their processes and become literally twice as fast as they were before.”