Jeremy Goldstein, lawyer in New York, provides advice on simple ways to increase workplace productivity right now. The process he offers can be useful for every type of business in any sector, too. Leaders dream of finding that perfect technique to encourage more efficient productivity, but few actually achieve it.

Productive person working

What Impacts Productivity?

The lure of social media, for one thing. An estimated 90 percent of adults in this country spend the equivalent of two full workdays on Facebook — that’s per person.

The weather has an impact, as well. A 2012 study by Captivate Network found that lovely summer days take about 20 percent of productivity. Attendance drops during this time of year by 19 percent, too.

It is easy to think that low productivity is about the employee lacking motivation. The environment is often the perpetrator, though. For example, 53 percent of employees surveyed by CareerBuilder state that a space that is too cold makes them less productive.

Other potential factors include an open office floorplan, which, according to once study, decreases production by as much as 15 percent. Also, people become disengaged from their jobs, states Gallup, and that leads to 7 trillion dollars in lost productivity.

To see an improvement, you must first understand what factors empower productivity and how to take advantage of them.

What Empowers Productivity?

So, what motivates people to work? It rarely is just one thing. Leaders looking to increase productivity need small, strategic moves that create a more communal environment, such as recognizing a standout individual for their accomplishments in a way that everyone else will notice.

Consider other rewarding behaviors, too, like ordering lunch for everyone at the end of the week or doing Happy Hour on Hump Day to give them a chance to unwind. The key is to take small steps that don’t cost much but make them feel recognized for the work they do.

Improving Personal Productivity

Even if you are not a company leader, you can still impact your productivity. If you feel disengaged from your work, respectfully discuss why with an employer even if it involves constructive criticism. If the workspace is too cold and that’s making it hard to concentrate, it’s okay to say something politely. These are the conversations that promote change.

Busy businesswoman with her gadgets

How Technology Fits Into the Mix

Technology overall makes things better, but that comes at a cost. Emails and push notifications take a bite out of anybody’s day, even though they do it a few seconds at a time. In 2015, the average person got 64 push notifications each day, and that number has likely increased.

When you want to work, removing these things from the equation. Disable push notifications during work sessions using the Do Not Disturb feature that most phones offer, for instance. You can leave emergency messages from spouses or children on so you are not cut off completely.

When it comes to technology, you have to find a way to limit it’s access to you as much as possible. You have to be able to see technology as something that may support your work but keep its distracting influence from hurting your productivity.

Develop a Productivity Plan and Make it Work

Both those in the workforce and those in charge of it need to take this step. Take a day or two to create a plan that works for you. Keep in mind, too, that what is useful for you might not work for someone else, so each person needs to develop this own strategy.

Spend a few days taking notes to see what distracts you the most. Is it:

  • Emails
  • Push notifications
  • Texts
  • Are you uncomfortable in some way? Seating, room temperature?
  • How much time do you spend on social media each day or on apps?

Also, what time during the day are you most productive? Do you slow down in the late afternoon? Are you most energetic mid-morning?

Use this combination of data to create a plan. If you find you work best in the morning, cut social media out during that time. Save your social media exploration for when your energy is at its lowest. If you spend a lot of time answering emails in the morning when you are most energetic, push that job to the early afternoon when you need a break.

The Two-Minute Rule

Steve Olenski, a professional writer for more than two decades and a significant contributor to Forbes, Ad Age, Ad Week, Business Insider, and many more publications, came up with the Two-Minute Rule concept. It states if you see a task that you can finish in two minutes or less, then do it. The theory is that it takes less time to complete the task immediately than it would to come back to it later in the day.

If you do it right away, it is off your mind. If you mentally decide to push it off, it remains there, taking up space and focus. The more tasks you finish this way, the better the return. It will start to add up to time savings.

Business team having a meeting at a comfortable office space

About Meetings

One study states that, on average, employees spend what amounts to an hour a day sitting in meetings. That adds up to 31 hours a month. That same study found that 50 percent of employees consider meetings their number one waste of time.

Sometimes, meetings are necessary to:

  • Get people on the same page
  • Check the status of a project
  • Answer questions that concern a large group

They are not as essential as most people think, though. Ask yourself a few questions before deciding to call a meeting:

  • What information do you plan to share in the session?
  • How valuable is that information?
  • Is it worth the time it will take for a meeting?
  • Is the meeting justified?
  • Can you do the same thing another way, such as with a memo?

For employees getting an invitation to a meeting, ask whether you can afford to give up that time. If the answer is no, you can respectfully say so. Talk about what is going on that day and ask to reschedule. If you have a genuine reason, most leaders will accept that and look for a solution.

Another answer might be to consider a unified phone system (or a UG). It’s an approach that improves workplace productivity by 52 percent, with a 25 percent increase in operating profit. Practical business communication is always an asset when it comes to workplace productivity.

If you want to improve workplace productivity for yourself or your employees, Jeremy Goldstein, attorney, suggests you figure out what impacts it in the first place. Also, look for ways to use time in your favor, like leaving tasks such as answering emails or cruising social media to when you need a break from your regular work. Use your high energy periods throughout the day for more extended functions.

Finally, leaders should always be looking for ways to improve personal and business productivity. It’s stuff like rewarding the staff that matters when it comes to job engagement. Administrators should consider how they might be impacting employee time usage, too, like holding regular meetings that don’t serve much of a purpose.

When you look at the situation comprehensively, you’ll see that the little things add up. You have the opportunity to make changes that create a more efficient workplace, so can you afford to continue to ignore them?