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January 2, 2018

Plug Productivity Drains

Have you left work at the end of the day and wondered where the time went? Do you ever feel exhausted even though you haven’t accomplished anything? If so, your productivity is leaking away. Let’s look at some common areas of productivity drain and what you can do to plug them!exhausted

Email Drains

How many emails do you get daily? If you’re like most people, you’re averaging 121 emails a day, and that number is going up. Most workers spend more than 11 hours a week on email alone. It is not surprising that it’s a huge drain on your productivity. Here are some tips from my Writing and Managing Email class to make the job easier.

  • Unless it’s your job to answer emails when they arrive. Stop. Set specific times during the day to open and respond to them. You’ll save time and get more done than you would by answering emails as they arrive.
  • Use rules to pre-sort emails from key people and on key projects; you save time not having to look for them. See my blog post Use Rules to Manage Email.
  • Set up folders to easily file completed emails and implement a follow-up system to keep track of incomplete ones. See my blog post Don’t Let Someone Hold You Up for information.

Meeting Drains

Approximately 33 percent of your time is spent at meetings. The key to plugging this drain on your productivity is to vet each meeting before agreeing to attend. Find out what decisions need to be made at the meeting and what part you are expected to play. If you can delegate attendance to a member of your team, do so. See my blog post Don’t Let Meetings Run Your Day for more information.


Interruptions are another productivity drain. It can take up to 20 minutes to regain your focus when you are interrupted. The key is to take control of your time! Be assertive about telling people you can’t talk right now, but will call them later. Close your door if you have one; otherwise, remove your guest chair or pile stuff on it so visitors cannot sit. See my blog post Take Charge of Interruptions.

Is your productivity leaking? If so, be more positively productive by implementing these tips and plug those productivity drains.



January 8

Delegate to Be More Positively Productive


Delegation is one of the most productive skills you can master. It not only helps you leverage your time, it helps you develop the leadership skills of your team. When you skillfully delegate, you turn over the execution of an assignment or task to someone you trust to deliver the results you need. Here are some tips to make delegation successful.

  • Generally, any activity that can be done by someone on your team rather than by you is a likely task to be delegated. Don’t spend your time doing things you don’t have to do.
  • Match an employee’s skills with the skills needed to succeed, but provide the employee with an opportunity to grow and develop.
  • Set up the employee for success. Meet and explain the importance of the assignment, your expectations for deliverables, any deadlines, and their level of authority to make decisions.
  • Be available during the assignment to answer questions and give feedback.
  • Avoid micromanaging, but have an open door for questions and guidance. Trust your employees to deliver!

Remember, the more you develop your staff, the more you and your team will be positively productive, and delegation is one of the best ways to do this. See my blog post Avoid These Delegation Pitfalls for more information.

January 15

Does Your Workplace Stress Your Team?


Workplace stress is epidemic, and just about everyone experiences a level of stress every day. According to a survey on workplace stress from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of respondents stated that their jobs were very or extremely stressful! The report sites these contributing factors that lead to stress: “Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours and shiftwork; hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control.”

Here are some tools to help you identify and reduce work-related stress in your department.

  • Check ergonomics. Poorly positioned computers, badly designed office chairs, inadequate lighting, and offensive noises and odors are just some environmental factors that create stress. Check with your company’s environmental safety unit for solutions that are easily implemented.
  • Require everyone to take short stretch breaks every 60 to 90 minutes. Sitting for too long is physically debilitating and detrimental to health, and focusing for more than 60 or 90 minutes reduces productivity. A short break is necessary to relive physical and mental stress.
  • Make sure every team member understands your expectations about deliverables, deadlines, and performance measures. Stress can mount when employees are unsure of themselves or their roles in your organization.
  • Provide opportunities for employees to take training and learn new skills. This shows that you appreciate them and are willing to invest in their development. Raising morale and improving motivation are stress-busters.
  • Lighten up! Laughter in the workplace relieves tension and stress. See my blog post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference?

As a manager, you need to evaluate if your work environment is negatively stressing your team and take steps to create a stress-free workplace. See my blog posts Take Action to Manage Stress and Stress Busters for more information.

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