Bad Work Habits: Killers of Productivity

By Janhavi Hunnur, Staff Writer

“Many people look forward to the new year for a new start to an old habit”

After I got promoted to Project Manager I was super excited about the role and couldn’t go to bed thinking of all the innovative changes and ideas I would be bringing to the table. Next day I went to the office all charged to take on the world, only to be struck with a blow to my head. My team was lackadaisical, distracted, stressed and hanging on by a thin thread, as if their life depended on it. After recovering from my shock I decided that this could not alter my dream and something had to be done about it. I observed the current working style and found some major black holes. Unfortunately they had gotten so stuck within the ecosystem that the people didn’t realize these black holes were sucking the marrow out of the bone.

PC: Lifehacker
PC: Lifehacker

Some of my observations were:

  • The smartphone a monkey on the back, distracting the employees constantly
  • Meetings went longer than scheduled, all thanks to hijackers, and due to topics that were not on the agenda
  • The never ending tabs on the browser were causing limitless work gaps
  • Obsession with hitting ‘Send/Receive” and “45 new tweets” every ten minutes
  • Answering every non-urgent phone call, WhatsApp message, or Tweet, as soon as received
  • Inability to distinguish work on the basis of urgency and importance
  • Constant tapping on the back for some concern or another, leaving me no alone time for work.

I saw that some of the above issues were resulting in a major time and effort crunch, which did not benefit my managers or my team. The temperament was always tense and stressed out, long hours were spent in the office but work occupied only half of that time, deadlines were missed notwithstanding the extra hours, there was performance leakage, and at the end of the day neither the CEO nor the client was happy.

After doing research and collating some data I concluded that some minor changes would go a long way in maintaining an ecosystem of balance and harmony. Some of the changes that I implemented were:

  • Charting work on the basis of an ‘urgent and important’ matrix
  • Setting clear objectives and agendas for meetings, and having one pilot to steer each meeting
  • Habituating staff to checking mail and social media only after fixed long intervals
  • Keeping only relevant tabs open and no playing rapid fire with social media content
  • Sending calls to direct voice mails unless from your MD or mom
  • Openly declaring ‘Do Not Disturb’ time zones of at least 90 minutes
  • Making short, achievable ‘To-Do’ lists

After incorporating some of these habits my team started performing at 20% higher productivity. The team was happier and more relaxed, and more importantly, the CEO and the client were amazed at the metamorphosis.

All’s well that ends well.


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