Last week we looked at ways we can change our habits in order to enjoy work more in 2016. This week we’re going look at how we can optimise our time in order to boost our productivity, work more efficiently and see better results.
The time we have at work is finite and once we subtract the time taken up by meetings, emails, phone calls and interruptions, the time we have to be productive is much smaller than we might imagine.
Parkinson’s Law, coined by British political analyst Cyril Parkinson in 1955, says ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’ and the larger the organisation, the more internal work is generated creating an illusion of ‘being busy’ without necessarily delivering any kind of results.
On average, office workers are disrupted every 3 minutes from the task they’re trying to complete. This is compounded by the time it then takes them to reconnect with the task. These interruptions soon add up and it’s easy to see where Parkinson’s illusion of being busy comes from.
For many, the solution is to work longer hours. However, this only makes the problem worse, especially in companies where staff are paid overtime and costs can spiral out of control. It also leads to more cases of employees burning out.
In an interview with TED, Yoshie Komuro, CEO of Work Life Balance Co. in Tokyo, says it’s a fallacy to assume the longer employees work the more they’ll produce. With the brain only being able to concentrate for 13 hours after waking, Komuro says overworked employees make poor decisions, more mistakes and have fewer good ideas.
At work, time is our most valuable resource. So to get the most from it, we have to optimise the way we use it. Here are different ways you can optimise your time...
Embrace software and technology. Saving time can be as simple as changing the way you work. Just because you’ve always done something in one particular way, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways of doing it better. We see this time and again at Quinyx. We’re helping business throughout Europe get their time back by using software to carry out complex functions which were ordinarily carried out by managers, like time management and scheduling. The result is most businesses reporting they save as much as a day a week by using Quinyx, allowing them to refocus their efforts on making their business even more successful.
There are even simpler ways to embrace technology. Apps like Trello, Evernote and Harvest help you manage your workflow more effectively. And, like Quinyx, they’re all cloud based meaning they can be accessed anywhere, at any time, from any device.
The cloud is also revolutionising the way smaller businesses work. By providing secure and reliable file storage, tools like Google Drive and Dropbox mean business don’t have to invest in onsite servers which are an extra cost as well as taking time to set up and maintain.
Have better meetings. Week after week, senior managers in most companies will be faced with a diary full of meetings. Some meetings are avoidable but most aren’t. The secret is to have better meetings. Stand meetings are great, as are meetings away from distractions like phones and computers. Always have an agenda, always leave with actions and always make sure meetings run to time.
It’s also fundamental to make sure you have enough time in the margins between meetings. It’s not sustainable to operate to a schedule back to back with meetings. Give yourself time in between them where you can digest the previous meeting before preparing for the next one.
Leave the guilt at the door when it comes to breaks. Skipping lunch is a common theme in busy offices and employees are often struck by guilt when they take allocated breaks as it is time not spent working. To work better we have to ditch this guilt. We know how important it is to enjoy work, but it’s also important to enjoy the time we don’t spend working. Our brains can’t function at maximum capacity for 8 hours straight; like other muscles, our brains get tired and fatigued. So whether it’s increasing your physical activity, practicing one minute meditation or simply getting out of the office for lunch and talking with a friend, you’ll find the time spent doing this will help you achieve more in less time in the office.
We know the importance of optimising time throughout different businesses and industries, the results we see, from increased productivity and moral to better HR and financial management, are proof of what can be achieved when time is spent wisely. We’d love to help you do the same.