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What's killing your productivity and what to do about it?

We all know that the key to work life balance is to be super productive at work. Getting more done in less time means more free time. 

So what's killing your productivity? Texting? Surfing the Web? Chatting with co-workers around the water cooler?

New research from CareerBuilder identifies behaviors that employers say are the biggest productivity killers in the workplace. 

As expected, use of technology is one of the leading culprits behind unproductive activity at work. One in four workers (24 percent) admitted that, during a typical workday, they will spend at least one hour a day on personal calls, emails or texts. Twenty-one percent estimate that they spend one hour or more during a typical workday searching the Internet for non-work-related information, photos, etc.  While they might not seem like an efficient use of time, I understand why people do these things at work.

When asked what they consider to be the primary productivity stoppers in the workplace, employers pointed to:

  1. Cell phone/texting – 50 percent
  2. Gossip – 42 percent
  3. The Internet – 39 percent
  4. Social media – 38 percent
  5. Snack breaks or smoke breaks – 27 percent
  6. Noisy co-workers – 24 percent
  7. Meetings – 23 percent
  8. Email – 23 percent
  9. Co-workers dropping by – 23 percent
  10. Co-workers putting calls on speaker phone – 10 percent


Okay, I admit to getting caught up in several of the productivity killers listed above. Here's what Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, suggests we do to be more productive:

1) Organize and prioritize – De-clutter your workspace and clearly lay out your game plan for the week. What do you need to accomplish each day? How much time will each project take? Which projects have the highest priority?

2) Limit interruptions – Incoming calls and co-workers dropping by to chat about their weekend can break your concentration and eat up time. Block off a conference room to work on a project to avoid distractions at your desk. Read your email at intervals instead of opening each one as soon as it comes in. Consider telecommuting on certain days.

3) Avoid unnecessary meetings – Don’t set aside an hour to meet about an issue or initiative that can be addressed with a quick phone call. Politely decline the meeting invitation and follow up with the organizer.

4) Get personal on your own time – Whether you want to call a friend, take advantage of an online sale or post a picture of your dog on your social profile, do it during your lunch hour or break time or after work.

5) Communicate wisely – Don’t spend 20 minutes crafting an email to the person sitting in the next cubicle. Save time by picking up the phone or walking over to your colleague’s desk.

6) Don’t delay the inevitable – Finding other things to do so you can put off a less preferred project will only end up wasting more time. Don’t procrastinate. Dive in and tackle the task at hand.

When it comes to work life balance, it's getting more difficult to keep work and our outside lives seperate. It may be a productivity killer to take a personal call at the office, but sometimes you just have to do it. 

So, what do you think are your productivity killers? Could you survive being all business, all day while at the office?