“Imagine for a moment the following scenario…” Bill, a colleague of yours, has just checked his e-mail and received a note from a person with whom he has a tense relationship. There is a recurring issue between the two of them, that won’t go away. He interprets this e-mail as “snarky” and “bullheaded,” so he sits there at his desk, his mind filling with scenarios and responses he would really like to send back. This internal “chatter” goes on for 10 minutes as he stews in his own emotions. He sends a reply in an equally “dry” tone and immediately regrets sending it, so he stews further in guilt for another few minutes (say 20 minutes).
Total productivity loss: 30 minutes.
As he was working on something else at the time he received the e-mail, he needs to refocus his attention: another 5 minutes to build back momentum.
Total productivity loss now: 35 minutes.
As a result of this decaying relationship, there is a heaviness and running conversation weighing within him of which he is barely aware — that won’t go away. Total time spent in chatter, tension, and loss of productive action – significantly more than 35 minutes. Especially if he takes it home, which he is apt to do.
Total productivity loss now: immeasurable with a significant cost to his inner well-being and probably his family time. Who won’t get his full attention when he gets home.
Now multiply that 35 minutes by 3 (the number of times it recurs during a month) and you see that he wasted an hour and half of time. But this is not the end of the story, because Bill and his nemesis also sit in meetings together. How productive do you think they will be? Since Bill is not the only person who wastes time reacting to emails, we can safely multiply that over the number of employees that work at his company as well. It could run into the thousands of minutes, 100 employees translates into 3500 minutes a day (approximately 58.3 hours). Now I know that not all people, everyday, stew and keep tension inside them, so I have exaggerated somewhat to make a point.
Start to connect productivity to thought and perception rather than action and performance. ” ~ Jonathan Creaghan Tweet this!
In error, we connect productivity to performance. Technological gadgets are invented to save time and effort: smart phones, e-mails, laptops, and tablets were all designed to make our lives “easier and more efficient”. But my experience tells me that these endeavors don’t get at the answer to real and profound productivity improvement that exists within us and between us.
Let’s dissect the above scenario for a moment. We find that Bill is unproductive because of his limited perceptions and conclusions he made about the message in the email. Unable to break free of habitual responses, interpretations, and judgements of whom this other person is and what happened to create this situation in the first place, he follows predictable responses that waste time and energy for all involved. And the funny thing is, if you were to ask Bill if he was productive, he would say “Yes”.
When Bill learns to examine his own thinking, he is free to discover a more accurate “picture” of reality and certain things begin to occur. His mind begins to relax and open up, the resulting clarity allows him to accurately perceive situations, create options for responses, and to reconnect with what is really going on. With less “head chatter” and unnecessary emotions, Bill will be able to distinguish between actions he needs to take and those that are unnecessary.
The source of productivity is within thought and perception itself. We can perform efficient actions with the help of gadgets, but ultimately to find the final 5% of workplace productivity, we will need to learn how to work with our thoughts.