The end of the working day seems to come depressingly fast, particularly if you’re drowning in work. A recent push towards collaborative working, as seen through the popularisation of open-plan offices and software like Slack has actually meant a decrease in employee output and, as a result, employee overload and burnout.
The Harvard Business Review estimates that ‘collaborative activities’ in the workplace has ballooned by over 50 per cent in the last two decades and, because of this push, the amount of time the average employee spends in meetings, on phone calls and responding to emails takes up a staggering 80 per cent of their working day. How much time, then, is left over for you to do your actual work? Well, you do the math.
Here’s how to win back some of that stolen time:
Check where you are in the chain
Now it’s time to be truly honest with yourself: are you a helper? As in, you’ve got your fingers in so many office pies, it now seems like everyone has to come through you to get something done?
Don’t get us wrong – there’s nothing bad about being a doer – it’s just that if you put your hand up for everything, you’ll be the bottleneck through which work has to pass.
The amount of time the average employee spends in meetings, on phone calls and responding to emails takes up a staggering 80 per cent of their working day.
“In most cases, 20-35 per cent of value-added collaborations come from only 3-5 per cent of employees,” writes Rob Cross, Reb Rebele and Adam Grant in HBR’s The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year. “Work doesn’t progress until [that person] has weighed in. Worse, they’re so overtaxed that they’re no longer personally effective.”
It’s time to stop helping out with every single task.
Re-write your company’s meeting rules
While meetings may be necessary, they sure do take some time, don’t they? If you find meetings achieve a lot less than you would sitting at your own desk for an hour, try a couple of these techniques to make sure your office isn’t one where catch-ups are essentially a waste of time, because the last thing you have is excess time to drain into an unproductive meeting.
Track your work
It can’t be said enough that the way you prioritise your tasks has an impact on how you get through your mountain of work.
Try a task-tracking exercise to show you exactly how much time is dedicated to checking emails, attending meetings and deep-level work. If your day is truly out of balance with email overload, let colleagues in your company know that you’ll be checking and responding to emails at a certain time each day.