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Build Your Career Office Life

Cut Back on Meetings and Distractions to Boost Productivity

Cut Back on Meetings and Distractions to Boost Productivity
Credit: RawPixel/Shutterstock

Many employees are under the impression that their employer expects them to get more work done during the day than they currently are, new research finds. A study from Fellowes revealed that nearly half of office workers in the U.S. say they feel an increasing amount of pressure to be more productive at work. While the employees surveyed work an average of 44 hours per week, they admit that only 29 of those are what they consider to be productive.

Those surveyed point to several things that are holding them back from reaching their full productivity potential. Talkative co-workers, unnecessary meetings, cell phone interruptions and office equipment problems were seen as the top productivity killers.

When trying to become more productive, many employees don't think working longer hours is the answer. Instead, most of those surveyed said the key to getting more done each day is to make changes within the existing workday. [See Related Story: Improve Productivity and Morale by Igniting Employee Passions]

Some of the changes employees feel their employer could make to help them accomplish more are to cut back on meetings, provide more quiet workspaces, offer flexible schedule options and have more up-to-date technology.

Productivity expert Laura Stack agreed that cutting down on meetings will help employees get more work done. She said meetings should be canceled if seeing everyone who needs the information individually won't prevent work from getting done. In addition, Stack suggests making sure employees have at least one day a week on their calendar that is completely meeting-free.

It is also important that employees try to limit the number of technology disruptions they face each day. When they're trying to get work done, Stack advises employees to turn off their email notifications, put their instant messaging on "do not disturb," put their cell phones in airplane mode and let all calls go to voicemail.

If their workspace is clean and free of clutter, an employee is better able to keep focused on the task at hand, according to Stack. She encourages workers to only keep the items they work with on a daily basis on their desks. Things they work with weekly should stay in a desk drawer, while those they only use once a month can be stored in a filing cabinet.

Other productivity-boosting tips Stack offers are cutting down on multitasking and working from different locations as a way to give yourself a change of scenery.

Just being in the workforce longer could also increase how much employees accomplish. The research found that employees believe the older they get, the more productive they become. Three-quarters of the employees surveyed feel their productivity has improved as their tenure in the workplace has increased.

Overall, Gen X employees are viewed as the most productive by their co-workers, with millennials being seen as the workers who get the least accomplished each week.

The study was based on surveys of 1,200 U.S. office workers.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.