Improve Productivity: Stop the Pantry Chats and Cigarette Breaks Banter

You want to improve productivity, not increase animosity. So, if you are a manager reading this and trying to improve productivity in your office, be very careful.

Treat with care as rest time is a very passionate subject amongst employees. As it is, they see you as the monster already. You need not add more reasons for them to confirm you as one!

With that caveat out of the way, if you are an employee looking to improve your own productivity – good on you! You are on your way to learning how to become more competitive and hopefully be the selected one when it comes to promotion and salary increment. In a working world where people try to get away with the bare minimum, it’s easy to be ahead in your game. Even if you are a newbie.

1. Stop the Pantry Chats
I mentioned in another article about taking breaks and that a walk to the pantry is good for motivation. Am I contradicting myself here? No I am not. What I mean here is do not stay too long and be distracted. Time can very easily slip away when you are chatting. By all means take that break. It will improve productivity. But when distracted and chats turns to long discourses - it takes up precious work time.

What about your cigarette breaks? Do you have a tendency to talk longer than needed during the breaks? Imagine you were peeping at yourself during breaks. What will you do if you are the boss? Cut them short and see how you can improve productivity. Realistically, you cannot expect to get more done and increase productivity when you take long breaks. Your mind is focused somewhere else and takes time to get back to work mode when you go back to your workplace.

2. Organized Brainstorm
Are the pantry and cigarette breaks places where time is wasted? Hardly, there are also places where there are time stealers. One of my pet-peeve is when a supposed brainstorm sessions is not properly organized. Most people tend to think, you just turn up for a brainstorm. You want to increase productivity, learn brainstorming techniques and educate your participants before it starts.

Tell them what is expected of them. What they should be preparing and what is the objective of the brainstorm. That way, people come prepared and you are more likely to get the results you want. Brainstorms cannot be just free flow. You will end up being distracted and people will start joking. They will think it is a party with free food and drinks. Chat and leave. You will have to organize another session. How many times have you ended brainstorm sessions saying, let’s just email each other the ideas later? That’s a sure sign of a poorly organized brainstorm sessions.

3. Meetings, Next Steps and Follow Ups
It is appalling some meetings are still being organized without an agenda. Whether you are attending a meeting or organizing one, always ask for the agenda. I refuse to attend a meeting that does not have one. It’s just a waste of time. All meetings in all its shape and form should start on time. If you do that, you will improve productivity.

Are there next steps or action steps and follow ups after your meetings? Each item on the agenda must have a next step and follow up. Someone must be the primary person to do each of those items. Otherwise, you can meet till the cows come home and nothing will move.

These are just some common time stealers in the office environment. Watch for these and other activities that waste time that maybe common in your office. Figure a way to minimize these and you will improve productivity successfully.

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