Time is money, and that’s a fact in business.

According to research, $37 billion is lost annually to unproductive meetings. Another study found that employees surveyed put in 50 percent or less effort at work.

Of course, you can’t give your 100% effort at work all the time. Sometimes you’re having a rough day. You may feel burnout or you might need to take a short break. Realistically, you can’t always be productive, but you can make sure that your time is spent wisely.

All you need to do is identify and diminish mental blocks that can take can take control of your day. How do you get started? Here’s what you need to do:

1.Recognize Your Own Blockers

You can’t provide a good solution if you can’t accurately identify the problem. So, follow these steps to identify your blockers:

  • Choose a task related to your current project.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes.
  • Work on the assigned task. Each time you slow down, take a break or get distracted, think about what led you to engage in a non-work related behavior and notice the patterns.
  • Write down your experience of trying to finish your work. How do you feel when you’re about to encounter a block? What does your internal monologue tell you to get you to stop working? The answers to these questions will help reveal your mental blocks.

Once you’ve identified your mental blocks, it’s time to take action.

Repeat the phrase “Not right now” whenever you’re tempted to take a break or each time you think you’re at your limit. Identify the triggers and schedule breaks to avoid burnouts.

2. Make Blockers Surface in Daily Scrums

Once you and your team members recognize your own productivity blockers, you’ll need to set up what is known as a Daily Scrum.

A Daily Scrum is a meeting where teams discuss their progress towards the goals. Here, team members can also identify obstacles which impede their ability to complete their tasks. This is crucial because low productivity may lead to missed deadlines and poor performance.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

Free-Photos / Pixabay

Here are some guide questions to help you jumpstart your discussion:

  • While you were in the middle of completing a task, what were the reasons why you hesitated, slowed down, or otherwise engaged in a non-work related behavior?
  • How did the distraction impact your productivity?
  • How long did it take you to return to the task?
  • How might we prevent this productivity blocker from affecting our work, in the future?

Next, teams should discuss possible solutions for these obstacles and update their plans.

3. Assign Someone to Keep Members Accountable

Another way to prevent blockers is to check inboxes for projects, backlogs, and queues. Put an owner for each who’s in charge of ensuring that members have access to the information or resources required to finish their tasks.

For example, a developer may not be able to create a web page until they receive the necessary files from the designer.

Having someone who keeps an eye on tasks and inboxes ensures that work flows smoothly and no member is blocked from finishing their tasks.

4. Remove Manual Processes

When trying to finish a task, company processes can get in the way. Team members may need to wait for approval from higher-ups before they can begin. They might also need to discuss their tasks in meetings before they can act.

As a result, they don’t get to focus on the tasks that matter. Instead, they spend too much time attending redundant meetings and asking permission from various departments.

StockSnap/Pixabay

StockSnap / Pixabay

In this scenario, a good win-win solution is to remove manual processes. Tasks that need to be accomplished should be discussed in weekly meetings, with all the stakeholders present. Management should also get updates through progress reports so that there’s no need to wait for approval.

This lets members focus on urgent tasks and complete goals ASAP.

5. Don’t Ask for Approval

What’s another way to increase your productivity? Don’t ask approval.

For example, let’s say you’ve scheduled a meeting on Thursday.

Instead of asking members whether they’re available on Thursday, just tell them “We’re having a meeting on Thursday. If you have something coming up or have changes to suggest, then let me know.”

Since you didn’t ask for a consensus, you can immediately set a definite time for the meeting and get members to adjust their schedules.

6. Don’t Wait For an Immediate Response

Let’s say, you’ve assigned a task to a team member. Since you’ve posted the task in Trello or Asana, you’ve checked your project management tool every five minutes.

This is pathetic.

Waiting for an immediate response is probably the #1 productivity blocker for most people. Not everyone has the urge to check their inboxes every now and then.

But there is a way out of this habit! Once you get the urge to check your notifications, resist it. Don’t expect an immediate response from people. If team members have an urgent update, then tell them to call or visit your office. Otherwise, choose a specific time in the day for reading updates and replies.

7. Use Project Management Tools

One of the most important ways to keep track of each member’s progress is to use a project management tool.

Project management tools help teams achieve their goal by subdividing work into manageable tasks. This is important because it ensures that everyone on the team knows who is going to get things done and when it will be finished. Ideally, your work tracking tool should let you have conversations within the platform.

Here are some tips for choosing tools:

  • Choose a Tool That’s Easy-to-Learn: Work tracking systems should be easy to use and understand. Consult with your team members about their experiences with the tool and train them to use it. This will help them communicate their progress efficiently.
  • Choose a Tool With Reporting Capabilities: Usually, managers are tasked to create progress reports and watch their teams. Having a tool that allows you to transform a team’s progress into report format is crucial, so managers can free up time for more important tasks.
  • Choose a Mobile-Friendly Tool: It’s not surprising for team members to work remotely, so it’s important that they can access their tools using their mobile devices.

Over to You

Making sure employees stay productive is crucial to your team’s success. Before anyone is called out for their poor performance, businesses need to remove blockers that will impede on their success.

I’d love to hear how you diminish productivity blockers at work. Let me know in the comments.