The quest to improve productivity of employees at work is probably about as old as the idea of a company. Over the years, managers of businesses of all shapes and sizes have joined in this pursuit and, as a result, we have nearly innumerable different tactics and tips on how to get your employees to be more efficient and use their office time in the most productive way possible.
Ideas range from organizing their tasks in a particular way, to changing the way your office space is laid out or equipped, all the way to buying a software to keep track of time spent on projects. All this in order to boost productivity.
Unfortunately, however, over this course of trying to find the answer, some misconceptions about workplace productivity have emerged and, worst of all, stuck around.
This article is here to bust six very common productivity myths that are harmful to progress and improvement, and can very often actually end up being totally counterproductive.
1. Working Every Minute of Office Time Is Possible
There’s hardly anything more damaging to employee satisfaction and long-term results than trying to obtain this idealistic picture of a perfect employee - being productive every single minute of their working hours.
The first point to make, and the reason why this claim is on our list, is that working for this long at a time is simply not possible. Our attention and focus last up to two hours at best. It’s all downhill from there.
Actually, you can see this trend pretty clearly if you’re using a time tracker. Just a couple of days after the time tracking software download, the trajectory should reveal itself - a bit of warm-up at the beginning, productivity peak, lunch break, another productivity peak and then just a long trailing downward slope until the end of the working day. And trackwork data doesn’t lie.
Now, don’t get this the wrong way, you should absolutely try to get employees to be as productive as possible, but just keep in mind that this is never going to be eight hours a day. At least not for long.
2. Multitasking Is Your Best Friend…
Surely, getting employees to do ten things at once is the best shortcut to improved efficiency. Wrong! In fact, only about 2% of people are capable of what we like to term multitasking, the other overwhelming majority just end up switching from one task to another and wasting time and energy in between.
As it turns out, maybe slightly counterintuitively so, multitasking is actually making your employees less productive. Instead, it’s way better to let them focus on a single task for as long as they naturally can. Work time tracker is a great tool for avoiding multitasking. It can show you what your employees are doing at any moment so that you can refrain from disturbing them during their flow. Any additional task can wait its turn.
Using work time control software in this way to eliminate the chances for task overlapping will make work distribution much more conducive to productivity.
3. ...And Breaks Are Your Enemy
As we’ve said earlier, you can’t expect employees to work non-stop, that’s not how productivity works. And seeing that downward trend in your job time tracking app should be enough to make you realize that breaks are indeed necessary for normal daily functioning.
Make sure your employees get regular breaks throughout the day. This will ensure that they come back to work refreshed and with a regained focus. Think about it this way: nobody can work effectively when they’re tired, right? And it won’t take long for employees to go back to being productive. It’s time well invested.
So use project management time tracking data to figure out when your employees need a break and let them relax for a couple of minutes.
4. Tracking Tasks Is a Waste of Time
We’ve mentioned the usefulness of a company tracking employees’ time in all of the previous points so far. So, by now, it should be obvious that this business practice isn’t a useless waste of time and money. It can measure your employees’ productivity and map out their natural rhythm. It can do the same for entire teams. Based on this data, you can detect and address distractions, pinpoint weaknesses, find out what areas or employees’ performance can be improved and much more.
You don’t have to look for the best time tracking software for nonprofits or the perfect CPA time tracking software. Having the basic functionalities can be enough to get you started on improving productivity. And don’t forget to test it out - explore the different features and reports, adjust your way of work and see if you can track it with the platform, reevaluate the results of using it and, if you don’t want to commit right away, make good use of productivity monitoring software free trial period.
5. Only Lazy People Procrastinate
Procrastination has long been viewed as a very undesirable quality in an employee. If they come to work and don’t start being productive straight away, they’re considered lazy and disinterested. The truth is, in fact, that most people are prone to procrastination.
It turns out that getting started with the work is a bit harder than it seems. Our brains need to adjust to the fact that there’s this long task ahead. And there’s not much employees can do about this and it certainly doesn’t mean that they’re generally lazy. Tendency to procrastinate doesn’t choose its victims. However, the length of this period can be a good indication of which employees are more productive than others.
One way to combat procrastination is to assign short simple tasks for the beginning of each day. That way, employees are going to be more willing to dig in and get it over with.
6. Productivity Can’t Be Trained
Finally, one of the most damaging misconceptions is that productivity is something that can’t be learned - employees are either naturally productive or they’re not, and you should use the maximum of the ones that are, while there’s really nothing you can do about the ones that are not. This attitude breeds unfairness in work distribution and is generally wrong.
There’s actually a lot you can do to improve your employees’ productivity. We’ve mentioned a couple of things throughout this article, but there are many more resources that could give you some ideas.
One of the tricks you can use is tracking productivity with a time tracker app. This data will give you ideas on what you can improve. Which distractions can you limit? When is the best time of day for demanding tasks? When should you assign breaks? Who should do what? How can you divide projects into tasks? Which deadlines should you set? These time management windows of opportunity can be a great basis for productivity improvements. Just don’t forget to track your results and adjust your strategy as needed.
Improving productivity is an important business goal, which is why you should steer clear of quick judgements. Hopefully, we’ve managed to bust a couple of the most widespread myths about workplace productivity and bring you closer to improving your team’s efficiency.