distracted worker

Is productivity an issue at your company? Certainly, you can’t blame the World Cup for every minute lost. Business owners should consider how to improve productivity without being tyrannical. One of the best ways to do this is by setting a good example.

According to Kelli Grant from NBC News, for most major sporting events, there’s analysis pointing to work-hours lost from employees who watch during office hours. During this year’s March Madness, potential losses were estimated at almost $1.22 billion for each unproductive work hour in the tournament’s first week. Researchers have yet to release any estimate on U.S. productivity loss during this World Cup, but during the last tournament in 2010, the U.S. economy lost $121.7 million, due to 21 million Americans watching for 10 work-minutes a day.

Such calculations don’t quite jive with how most employees work, said Stan Veuger, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute. “They assume people don’t plan around this and just actively stop work to watch,” he said. “There’s no accounting for fans who anticipate game-day distraction, and so schedule their days accordingly.”

“People throw a lot of blame at World Cup,” said Jim Belosic, chief executive at marketing firm ShortStackLab. “But in reality, YouTube, email and texting costs billions of more in lost productivity than World Cup could ever hope.”

For an SMB owner, if you only have a few employees, productivity can be a huge issue. Forbes.com offers 12 tips for increasing productivity.

1. Seek help and delegate tasks accordingly —Everybody needs help and should never take on large tasks alone.

2. Do not get sucked into unnecessary meetings — While it may be tempting to meet with as many people for the benefit of networking, the time you get at your desk is extremely valuable. Knowing what meetings to refuse is very important.

3. Create to-do lists — One of the most satisfying aspects of creating a to-do list is crossing off things when they are done. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and gives you a visualization of progress.

4. Take breaks — If you spend more than 8-10 hours at a desk and without moving around much, then you will notice that you have less energy. Productivity is not measured by the number of hours you sit at a desk. It is measured by how much you get done without sacrificing your health.

5. Weed out distractions— If you find that you are really falling behind on your work, then you should consider uninstalling the Facebook and Twitter app from your smartphone.

6. Stop watching so much TV — The quality of TV shows is increasing, but it is important to remember that empires don’t get built on couches.

7. Set ambitious, yet realistic goals— One of the major reasons why people fail a goals is because they did not set a deadline. Goals have to be very specific and they should be written down.

8. Designate times to handle e-mail — Everyday there is a good amount of time spent writing e-mail replies in a timely manner. If you are constantly checking your e-mail, this could mean you have too much free time on your hands and need to work on other tasks.

9. Reward yourself for motivation — This could be in the form of a material possession or certain type of food.

10. Constantly ask yourself if you what are doing presently is productive — When I realize that I am not working on something productive, I mentally scold myself and get back to the grind.

11. Spend a few minutes preparing for the next day — Mornings can be chaotic and the less you have to do before heading out the door, the more smooth your day will be.

12. Sleep early and get up early — Sleeping late and waking up early can be detrimental to your productivity the next day. If you are half-awake at work, then the odds are that your quality of work will suffer.