Business can be tricky sometimes. You use what seems to be great solutions – Meetings, Email, and Multitasking – only to learn that they are actually hurting your performance. Be empowered to take your time and productivity back by managing the following 3 common daily practices better.
Meetings are a huge cause of inefficiency and excess spending in the workplace. Unnecessary meetings cost $37 Billion for U.S business. How crazy is that! Additionally…
- 91% of meeting goers have daydreamed during meetings
- 39% of meeting goers have slept during a meeting
- 73% of meeting goers have done other work during a meeting
- 45% of meeting goers have felt overwhelmed by the number of meetings they attend
The New York Times recently wrote an article called The Modern Meeting: Call In, Turn Off, Tune Out. This article magnifies the truth that often meetings are done poorly, resulting in inefficient time-sucks. Dr. Halamka, chief information officer of the Beth Israel Deaconess health system in Boston admits, “In reality, I could have read a two-paragraph briefing instead of sitting on the phone for an hour,” he said. What’s worse, he shares he spends 6 hours a week in these meetings. That is (theoretically) 15% of his time – wasted – that could’ve been covered in a quick email.
If it makes sense, cut out the meetings when you can. Try to resolve issues quickly over the phone or in an email.
# 2 Email
Speaking of email…Another “productive” way for employees to disengage. Take a look at some of these stats:
- The average employee checks their email 36 times an hour
- The annual productivity cost per employee includes $1,800 in unnecessary emails and $2100-$4,100 in poorly written communications.
- It takes 16 minutes to refocus after handling incoming email
The NY Times article mentioned above references this disengagement as well:
“Susan Kostal, who lives in San Francisco and works as a marketing consultant to law firms, said she found it hard to resist emails and Twitter while on a conference call…When she hears her name, she snaps to attention and chimes in with a response to someone’s remark. ‘I end up sounding intelligent,’ she said, ‘but I go back and think, I don’t really know what that person said.’”
People are so busy managing an inbox, they aren’t spending that time paying attention in meetings or doing productive work. Tim Ferris has tons of useful tips you can find in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, as well as on his blog and podcasts. One of my favorites is using email autoresponses to manage your inbox to free up your time.
Not only is emailing an issue, but it also encourages multitasking (which we all know isn’t actually a thing). In a 2009 study Stanford researcher Clifford Nass concludes:
“The average professional spends about 23 percent of the day emailing, studies show. Inspired by that statistic, Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, and her colleague Stephen Voida infiltrated an office, cut 13 employees off from email for five days, strapped heart monitors to their chests, and tracked their computer use. Not surprisingly, the employees were less stressed when cut off from email. They focused on one task for longer periods of time and switched screens less often, thereby minimizing multitasking.”
And it is only going to get worse. The next generation is the first to grow up not knowing life before the internet. Their ability to “multitask” gives them false confidence in their ability to pay attention. They are either disengaged because they’re posting the latest on social media, or because they think they can do 5 things at once. Nikki Sun talks to this point in her article, Move Aside Millennials: Let’s Talk Gen Z. She writes:
“Gen Z’s are radically different from previous generations because they were born into an age of technology and only know a life with the internet. While Millennials share their lives on social media, Gen Z’s live and breathe through social media, often saying “if you didn’t post it, it didn’t happen.” They are constantly connected to the digital world, digesting content every minute of the day and aware of every move that their friends make. With multiple mobile devices, Gen Z’s have mastered the art of multi-tasking…”
There is so much literature on the inefficiencies of multitasking. If you don’t take my word for it, here are a few that can get you started:
- Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work
- Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again
- 8 Startling Truths about Multitasking and Productivity
Tools can be helpful – Meetings and Email specifically – but only if you manage them well. Don’t fall into traps and let your success be hampered by your ineffectiveness.
What are some ways you battle meetings, your inbox, and “multitasking?” Let me know in the comments below.