Increase Team Productivity By Understanding Velocity

leadership personal development time management May 30, 2019

If someone were to drive from Santa Barbara to San Francisco, it would take around 6 hours if they drove on the freeway non-stop. However, if they had to take every single exit ramp along the way, their 6-hour drive would become a not-so-fun road trip lasting well over 20 hours. Taking occasional detours may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but these brief interruptions can add up quickly if you’re not careful.

In the business world, it’s the same concept; if you focus on a single project without being interrupted, your work velocity will remain consistent and productivity will improve. By implementing a few basic time management strategies, you can accomplish more tasks throughout the day and improve the overall efficiency of your team.

Effects of Interruptions

Even if you consider yourself a good multi-tasker and don’t believe that distractions affect you very much, you’re likely still being impacted by daily interruptions in your routine. In fact, an MIT study concluded that it takes at least 13 minutes to get refocused on a task after being interrupted. For example, if someone asks you a question while you’re trying to read a book, you might have to go back a page or two to actually absorb the material, even if the conversation only took up a few minutes of your time.

In the workplace, interruptions and distractions happen all the time. In a study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, the results showed that an average office worker has just 11 minutes in between various distractions throughout the day. In other words, most people don’t have the chance to achieve maximum productivity at work.

Take Note of Little Distractions

Author Jonathan Spira estimates that unwanted and unnecessary interruptions in the workplace take up 40-60% of people’s time, which translates to about 28 billion wasted hours per year. If you don’t believe this statistic, think about your typical work schedule and habits. According to a study from CareerBuilder, there are 10 common distractions that cost employees a significant amount of their time. Be honest and ask yourself if any of the following items interrupt your concentration on most days: 

  1. Checking your phone.
  2. Browsing the internet.
  3. Gossipping with coworkers
  4. Scrolling through social media
  5. Checking emails.
  6. Going to meetings.
  7. Coworkers dropping by your workspace.
  8. Taking smoke breaks or snack breaks.
  9. Dealing with noisy coworkers.
  10. Having to sit in a cubicle.

Once you start to realize the number of interruptions you have to manage from day to day, you can take steps to prevent them or learn how to ignore things beyond your control (like loud coworkers). One useful strategy that HR officer Rosemary Haefner suggests is to take scheduled breaks during your day. She states that, “Taking breaks from work throughout the day can actually be good for productivity, enabling the mind to take a break from the job at hand and re-energize you. The trick is finding the right activities that promote, rather than deplete energy.”

3 Rules for Efficiently Managing Emails

Looking at a cluttered inbox full of unopened emails can be a major source of stress for mortgage loan officers. In order to cut down on the time you spend sorting, reading, and responding to emails, there are 3 pieces of advice that Tim suggests:

  1. Create a file folder. Opening your email to see a long list of status updates from clients can look overwhelming, but these don’t require immediate attention. The solution? Simply create a file folder designated for these types of messages. One loan officer who tried this saw a 40% reduction in his inbox!
  2. Politely ask to be removed from group emails. Everyone has been stuck in an annoying group chat where everyone chooses to hit “Reply All” to voice their opinions and concerns. If the constant updates are filling up your inbox and distracting you from work, have the confidence to request the sender to remove you from the correspondence.
  3. Review your communication habits with your team. Whenever you sit down to write an email to a coworker or colleague, get in the habit of asking yourself this question: “Is this issue time-sensitive, or can it wait until we can meet face-to-face?” In most cases, you’ll realize that email messages are entirely unnecessary… as long as you remember to bring up the topic in person on a later date!

If emails continue to be a major source of distraction, suggest meeting more frequently with your team in person. For example, instead of meeting for an hour once a week, ask if they would like to meet for 15-20 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Having more chances to communicate face-to-face will help prevent interruptions throughout your week, and you can expect to see your team’s productivity improve in no time.

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