Thursday, October 30, 2008

Distracted employees, tips on how to stay focused at work

More than 70 percent of human resource professionals in the Northeast believe that their employees are too distracted and overloaded at work, according to a recent e-survey by the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA).

The biggest distraction at work - e-mail.

While the survey found e-mail to be the most common off-task culprit, NEHRA also discovered that an overwhelming majority of companies (88%) have no policy for checking e-mail.

“You have to be able to establish some trust between your co-workers. Trails of e-mail filling everyone in on everything you are doing are often unnecessary,” Deborah Hicks, vice president of HR at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Chair of NEHRA, told SHRM Online. “Most of the time a 10-minute conference call to say what you want to say is more productive than shooting e-mails back and forth.”


Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Workweek and nominated one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People of 2007,” regularly shares no-nonsense advice on how to be more productive at work and in life.

In a blog post titled: “The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now,” Ferriss outlines stressful and common habits office workers should eliminate to improve their work-day. Here are just three of his work-related productivity tips:

Stop checking e-mail constantly. Instead, “batch” and check during set times of the day. Most of the emails you receive do not require an immediate response. Ferriss suggests setting up a strategic auto-responder or sending out a mass e-mail to contacts explaining your motives. Here’s an example of an effective auto-response:

“Thank you for your email! Due to my current workload I am only checking email at 11am and 4pm. If you need anything immediately please call me on my cell so that I can address this important matter with you. Thank you and have a great day!”


Don’t make e-mail the first or last part of your day. “The former scrambles your priorities and plans for the day, and the latter just gives you insomnia.” Hold off on your morning e-mails until after finishing at least one critical to-do item.

Prioritize daily tasks. Without prioritizing your to-do list, everything may seem urgent and important, leaving you stressed about where to start. Start each day by defining the single most important task for each day. “The answer to overwhelm is not spinning more plates — or doing more — it’s defining the few things that can really fundamentally change your business and life.”

Check out Ferriss’ full “Not-To-Do List” for more ways to improve your productivity at work and in life.

“It’s hip to focus on getting things done, but it’s only possible once we remove the constant static and distraction. If you have trouble deciding what to do, just focus on not doing. Different means, same end.”


We want to know - what’s your biggest distraction at work and how do you stay focused?

1 comment:

Totally Consumed said...

Flies - those pesky little critters that are attracted to the glow of my computer screen. Very distracting.


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