How do I become unproductive

Tempo team blog

Not finished everything at the end of the day? Where has the time gone and what has been done productively in the office today? Often it is the many little daily habits that creep in unnoticed and keep us from our actual work. Here are six typical problem areas that stand in the way of more productivity and how we can master them.

1. Email: notorious look at the inbox and vague communication

Dealing with e-mails is the number one productivity killer for many. We keep an eye on the electronic inbox at all times. This makes focused work on tasks impossible.

Our handling of the e-mails themselves is also often unproductive. The subject line does not make it clear what it is about and what needs to be done. "Mail chains" are created through constant replying and forwarding, in which the content of the individual message no longer has anything to do with the topic in the subject.

The solution: turn off e-mail notifications and only check your inbox as a fixed task at regular intervals. This can be done once an hour or, if your position allows, even less often, e.g. only 2-3 times a day.

In the subject of your e-mail, you should immediately make it clear what it is about and what you expect from the other person. Ideally, the subject already receives a clear request for action, e.g. "Agenda team meeting, feedback requested by Wednesday".

And even if it is convenient to simply click the reply button again and again: New topic, new mail, new subject! So that it is immediately clear what the mail is actually about. In addition, this saves everyone involved from tedious searching in the mailbox later on.

2. Constant distraction from social media, phone and chat

The modern media open up a multitude of communication channels for us. Answers are given and expected in the shortest possible time. Excessive discussions arise out of nowhere and we all too gladly allow ourselves to be distracted by them.

If you want to work effectively and focused on important tasks, you can't always be in conversation mode. Allow yourself productive breaks from being available.

3. Without a plan: Dispensing with prioritized task lists and goal definitions

We usually have medium and long-term projects or goals that have to be implemented step by step. In addition, there are daily recurring tasks. If you approach this in a structured manner, you will get the necessary things organized much better.

For the medium- and long-term goals, it is advisable to put specific goal definitions in writing: What should be achieved by when?

To-do lists are a very effective and proven method for daily planning. Your daily recurring tasks as well as the necessary steps for the implementation of long-term projects are included here.

If you want, you can of course go a step further and create detailed daily plans for yourself. These can look like this, for example:

08:30 - 09:00: process emails and inquiries

09:00 - 10:00: work on project A tasks

10:00 - 10:15: coffee break, exchange with colleagues in the department

10:15 - 11:45: continue working on project A tasks

11:45 - 12:00: break, exchange with colleagues from the neighboring department

12:00 - 12:30: telephone appointments

12:30 - 12:50: Follow-up telephone appointments

12:50 - 13:00: Process emails and social media inquiries

13:00 - 14:00: Lunch and break with a walk in the open air

14:00 - 14:30: Team meeting project A

2.30 p.m. - 2.45 p.m.: Process emails and inquiries

2:45 pm - 4:45 pm: work on project B tasks

16:45 - 17:00: break, exchange with colleagues in the department

17:00 - 17:30: compile a list of tasks for the next day; Update monthly tasks and project planning

4. Abandonment of undisturbed working hours and focused work

Distractions are not only a threat from chats and social media. Everyday work in the office also offers a lot of distraction potential. However, if you are never quite at it, you will find it difficult to do your tasks well and with concentration.

Request time for undisturbed work. Then close the door to your office, for example. If you work in an open-plan office, agree on fixed "quiet times" or, for example, use the "Please do not disturb now" display.

Undisturbed, you get a lot more done in less time. And the subsequent office gossip can be enjoyed in a much more relaxed manner after work is done, without creating stress.

5. Meetings, meetings, meetings

Disorganized, excessive, or redundant meetings are also poisonous for productivity. Therefore, the following should apply: No meeting without an agenda, ideally supplemented by a clear objective.

As a rule, meetings should not only be organized tightly, but also carried out tightly. There are certainly topics that can only be worked out in longer workshops. However, the usual project meeting should be over within half an hour or at most an hour.

If the agenda already suggests that this is not possible, think about where to streamline or cut back. If this does not work, it is often more sensible to split it up into several topic-focused appointments.

6. Avoidance of breaks and regular time-outs

Regular short breaks throughout the day are essential, especially when it comes to demanding or creative activities. Hardly anyone can work eight or ten hours at a time in a focused manner. Make sure you take breaks. You draw new strength and can then go to work in a much more concentrated manner.

Just as important as the small breaks during the day is to regularly gain a mental distance from the job. If you never really switch off, you not only damage your health, your performance at work will also suffer.

Hobbies can be very helpful here: for example, training on a Wednesday evening in a sports club, volunteering in a completely different area or spending time together on the weekend with the family.