Everyone is feeling busy, but the important things are not getting done. Why? More of your team’s workday is being eaten up by distractions than ever before. We look at the major causes and ask: Can the right software protect your team against “micro procrastination”?
Busyness and Distraction
According to many experts, two major factors contribute most to loss of worker productivity: busyness and distraction. Combined, these two forces create a spiral of inefficient behaviors that undermine getting important things done despite the feeling of being busy all the time. We call this “micro procrastination”.Recently, Dr. Rick Hanson in his Just One Thing newsletter described an American workplace culture where busyness and stature are (counter productively) correlated–and that’s not good for business. Dr. Hanson sees the general psychology of the American workplace as: “If you’re not busy, you must not be important. If you don’t have a lot on your mind, you must be underperforming.” “Busyness” also has it’s co-conspirator: “Distraction”. Jessica Stillman, contributor to Inc.com, observes how the technology centric workplace is suffering from what she calls a “Distraction Epidemic”. Stillman says: “Technology makes it harder to concentrate–with a world of distractions just a click away, getting down to that necessary but less-than-exciting task can feel nearly impossible.”It might seem that these two notions are distinct, but they are by-products of the same problem. We tend to overcomplicate our workload because of the cultural pressure to be busy. Then we fall prey to distraction in pursuit of the little tasks that keep us feeling busy (and falsely productive). So how can you be more focused and get your most important work done?
Finding Your Focus
There are numerous ways to find your focus. Stillman not only breaks down Hanson’s newsletter with 5 Ways to Stop Feeling So Scattered, but also suggests numerous “distraction-killing tools” to help with productivity. Hanson’s method focuses on the physical and mental well being of busy workers. He encourages physical activities and urges workers to allow themselves to feel suitably rewarded for work well done, as well as urging workers to enjoy natural settings and to appreciate art.Stillman’s approach against the Distraction Epidemic is to integrate apps that remove distractions from our workflow. These apps predominantly block social media and put a clean, distraction-free focus on your computer’s interface.For instance, apps such as FocusWriter or Write! provide distraction-free interfaces on your computer. These apps are essentially functional and elegant versions of full-screened Word documents billed as clutter-free environments, and the simple act of hiding a taskbar or minimising the capacity to quickly open up a web browser does have its merits. Another productivity app is Focus, the successor to ‘Concentrate’ mentioned in the Stillman article. A menu-bar app for Mac users, Focus actively blocks apps and certain websites for working periods, meaning that you really do ‘focus’ up on the tasks at hand, Surely between the right mindset and the right software, everything is covered? For the most part, yes. The lifestyle changes and apps described are certainly great ways of keeping your team focused on the task at hand and putting an end to the sense of being scattered.So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Email.
Email is Not Going Anywhere
In a 2016 survey commissioned by Kristin Naragon of Adobe Systems Inc, data showed that 90% of workers check their personal emails at work, and 87% check their work emails at home.“Email is and will remain a cornerstone of the workplace culture,” Naragon said of the findings. “Lots of companies are trying to break into that space with productivity tools, but email is not going anywhere.”Email is integral to the way your team works, but between scrolling through massive email chains and having to keep on top of the mounting notifications of their inbox, workers lose a staggering amount of time to emails. In fact, the constant monitoring of their inbox can consume an astounding 6.3 hours of their workday.Even daily aerobics and productivity apps won’t keep you from your inbox. It’s the way that the majority of workflow is distributed amongst American workers, unchanged by your attempts to deter from distraction.
The Distraction-Free Workflow
At TeamworkIQ, we’ve put a lot of time and effort considering the place of email with productivity-driven businesses. We believe that effective email management is very important, especially for finding the focus out of the fog of busyness and distraction. TeamworkIQ provides the kind of distraction-free, uncluttered interface that Stillman prizes in her list of solutions. TeamworkIQ presents a streamlined priority list and gives focus to your distributed tasks that comes fully integrated with your email.With all that we’ve looked at, we believe that the way we use our inbox is the final frontier in a completely fluid workplace. Making sure that our inbox is kept smart and uncluttered means that we’ll have fully protected our workforce from procrastination.
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