For most of us, our work day is full of productivity pain points. And, if you’re like most of my clients, your list of priorities is longer than the day … is long. 🙂 It can be incredibly frustrating when we find ourselves unable to accomplish our goals and complete important tasks. It leaves us feeling unproductive and inadequate. The only way to make time for our most important priorities is to cut wasted time somewhere else.
But where to start? There are lots of productivity tools like, software to help with scheduling and apps with timers to help you work a little faster and smarter. While many are useful, they do not address the biggest time waster of all: communication.
Productivity Begins With Communication
Communications skills and productivity are inextricably linked. Consider these statistics:
* A study by Atlassian showed that, on average, employees attend 62 meetings per month, for a total of 31 hours/month. The same study found that almost half of employees believed meeting to be the number one time-waster at the office.
* The average worker spends 13 hours a week on emails alone, which means 28% of the workweek is taken up by email (Source: Attentiv)
* A business with 100 employees spends an average downtime of 17 hours a week clarifying communication, translating to an annual cost of $528,443. (Source: Siemens)
* In a recent survey of employers, 93% of respondents agreed, “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.”
It would be great if everyone in your company realized or believed that long emails, endless meetings and 50-slide presentation decks was killing time and morale. But, you don’t need to wait for others — begin with improving your own communication skills.
Here are three productivity killers and a few simple steps to address them — and boost your productivity — right away.
1. Email: Clients tell me all the time that never ending email chains are the most frustrating part of their day. One of the biggest issues with email is that we try to cram too much into one email causing a lot of back and forth to clarify. Start by ensuring that every email covers only a single topic and phrase all questions to be answered directly and quickly. Keep your email brief (3-4 sentences) so that it can easily be read on a mobile device.
2. Meetings: “We have meetings just to talk about meetings.” I just heard this the other day. If you’re running the meeting, prepare and distribute an agenda in advance, and invite only the people who actually need to be in the room. If you’re attending a meeting, prepare a list of questions or concerns that apply only to the meeting agenda so you don’t pull everyone else off-topic.
3. Status Reports: Sometimes we feel like we have to report something, so we find a way to fill the time given. And it often takes us way too long to get to the point. We tend to bury the headline so our recipient has to go digging. In status reports, include only updates that relate to business objectives; ditch anything that simply highlights an activity and bring your main point to the very front.
When you get to the point, others can respond quickly and take action. And that is where productivity begins. You and those around you start to feel less frustrated because what you say leads to quicker results leaving you with more time to accomplish important priorities. Productivity starts with communication.
If you or your team want to take the initiative and learn how to increase productivity with better communication, sign up for our free BRIEF webinar happening Sept. 8th at 1:30 CT with Charley Thornton, lead facilitator. We’re going to teach you and your team to give efficient team updates and status reports that save you time. It’s the same methodology we teach to elite special operation units like the Navy Seals and fortune 500 leadership teams.
About the author: Joe McCormack is on a mission to help progressive organizations master concise communication. Joe works with Fortune 500 companies and elite special operations units, is the founder of The Brief Lab and author of Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less. Follow us on Twitter @TheBriefLab