In a recent Refresh Leadership poll, 73% of respondents said disorganization was an issue they deal with in their workplace. And, 26% said they have actually become less organized since the recession ended. When asked to pinpoint the leading factor that contributes most to their workplace organization challenges, the top two responses were “fewer people responsible for more work” and “lack of time.”
Do these statistics sound familiar? Is your company facing similar challenges? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. According to a Hiring Trends survey conducted by Express Employment Professionals, 51% of leaders, management-level or higher, say they lose up to nine hours of productivity a week due to desk or office clutter. To put that into perspective, a manager with a salary of $50,000 could potentially cost the company more than $11,000 per year.
Few companies can afford to simply take an $11,000 hit – especially now, when the economy is still fragile. It’s imperative that business leaders put forth the effort to understand what is causing their organization and time management issues to ensure productivity is maintained and employees stay focused and engaged.
Let’s take a closer look at the top two factors cited as having the greatest affect on organization in the workplace.
Fewer People Responsible for More Work
During the recession, many companies were forced to reduce the size of their workforce, and those employees who survived the cuts were left to pick up the slack. However, even though the recession is now behind us and the economy is slowly recovering, business leaders remain cautious about rebuilding staff to pre-recession levels. This means there are fewer employees responsible for maintaining productivity as business volume increases. When work is piling up and deadlines are looming, organization often falls by the wayside as employees struggle just to keep their heads above water.
Lack of Time
Obviously, if fewer people are responsible for more work, time management is also an issue. In fact, 54% of business leaders say they lose up to six hours a week due to being reactive instead of proactive (Hiring Trends). With so much vying for their time, it’s easy to see why managers at all levels are burning out. Research conducted by the Institute for the Future, an independent, nonprofit research group, found that 71% of white-collar workers feel stressed about the amount of information they must process and act on while doing business, and 60% feel overwhelmed.
So, what are the biggest drains on leaders’ time?
While no two companies are alike, there are a few common themes that seem to be consistent across the board.
The number one drain on a leader’s time, according to 81% of respondents to the Hiring Trends survey, is dealing with constant interruptions throughout the day. When busy managers are forced to turn their attention away from their own work to answer questions, put out fires, or deal with employees, they not only lose time addressing the issues, but it typically takes time to refocus on the work at hand after the issues are resolved. Blocking out periods of time during the week to shut your office door, unplug your phone, and shut down your email can give you a chance to focus on your projects and stay productive.
The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, found that the typical corporate email user sends and receives about 110 messages daily. Multiply that by how long it takes to reply, and you’ve lost a big chunk of your day. Getting into the habit of only checking email at certain times throughout the day can not only help you stay focused on your projects, it will also keep you from wasting time by constantly stopping to read and reply to emails every time the new message alert pops up on your screen.
A study commissioned by Verizon Conferencing reported that busy professionals attend over 60 meetings each month – and most say they don’t even attend all the meetings they are invited to due to time constraints. Obviously, there are times when a meeting is absolutely necessary, but before you send out your next meeting request, think about how important it actually is to meet in person, or if there is a more efficient way to get the information you need.
Organization and time management are often the first casualties of a busy workplace. When you’re stretched thin and everyone is fighting for your time, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos. So, whether it’s on your own or as a company, start taking steps to learn how to control the madness and maintain productivity before it leads your team to burnout.