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BEAT PRO­CRAS­TI­NA­TION AND DIS­TRAC­TION – TWO BIG BAR­RI­ERS TO SUC­CESS

The Courier-Mail - Career One - - Front Page - ME­LANIE BURGESS

AUS­TRALIAN work­ers are among the most en­gaged in the world, yet they waste more than an hour a day through dis­trac­tion or pro­cras­ti­na­tion. They are urged to re­gain pro­duc­tiv­ity by avoid­ing un­nec­es­sary meet­ings, be­ing strate­gic with tech­nol­ogy and re­mem­ber­ing why they do what they do.

Re­search from work man­age­ment plat­form Asana re­veals 75 per cent of Aus­tralia and New Zealand’s knowl­edge work­ers be­lieve their com­pany does a good job en­gag­ing em­ploy­ees – higher than any other coun­try sur­veyed, in­clud­ing the UK, US, Japan and Ger­many.

How­ever, a typ­i­cal work day in­cludes one hour and five min­utes of dis­trac­tion or pro­cras­ti­na­tion – slightly above the global av­er­age of one hour and four min­utes.

Asana head of com­mu­nity and cer­ti­fied pro­duc­tiv­ity ex­pert Joshua Zerkel says the big­gest dis­trac­tions keep­ing work­ers from com­plet­ing daily tasks in­clude shift­ing pri­or­i­ties (42 per cent), emails (39 per cent), col­leagues ask­ing them ques­tions (38 per cent), and un­planned meet­ings (37 per cent).

“Think about how many meet­ings you at­tend which ac­tu­ally add value,” he says.

“It’s likely that the un­nec­es­sary meet­ings take up more of your day than the pro­duc­tive ones.

“Ev­ery time you look to schedule a meet­ing – even a recurring one – you should con­sider whether there’s an­other way to achieve the same out­come with­out tak­ing up an hour of ev­ery­one’s time.”

Asana has in­tro­duced “No Meet­ing

Wed­nes­days”, to avoid meet­ings and in­stead fo­cus on deep, pur­pose­ful work and tick big items off to-do lists.

Un­ex­pected meet­ings can lead to over­time, too. Two in five work­ers (41 per cent) iden­tify this as a ma­jor rea­son they have to work late.

Zerkel also rec­om­mends be­ing strate­gic about new tech­nolo­gies.

Although some apps and tools may be help­ful, he says hav­ing too many can be dis­tract­ing and leave em­ploy­ees deal­ing with “a never-end­ing bar­rage of no­ti­fi­ca­tions and dis­jointed work­flows”.

Peo­ple can also boost their pro­duc­tiv­ity by re­mind­ing them­selves of the im­por­tance of their role.

“Un­der­stand­ing how all the work we do fits into the big­ger pic­ture can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween feel­ing em­pow­ered or over­worked,” he says.

Asana’s Anatomy of Work re­port re­veals Aus­tralia and New Zealand’s work­ers spend 59 per cent of their time on “work about work” – low­value tasks such as search­ing for sta­tus up­dates and send­ing emails – leav­ing only 41 per cent of their time for skilled and strate­gic tasks.

THINK ABOUT HOW MANY MEET­INGS YOU AT­TEND WHICH AC­TU­ALLY ADD VALUE,

FO­CUSED: Lawyer Emily Mur­phy keeps a notepad on her desk with a running list of things to do and adds to it through­out the day, en­sur­ing she stays on task. Pic­ture: JOHN GASS

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