At work, we all need to use email, attend meetings and deal with stress. These are inevitable. But the time they waste doesn't have to be.
Have you ever filed an email in a folder and then spent an exorbitant amount of time trying to find it later? Maybe you set up a series of tags to help organize your inbox, if you're lucky enough to have that feature in your email. An email could be tagged or filed under a person's name, a project, a task, a team, a subcategory of one of the above, or who knows? But you'll remember its location quickly when you need it, right?
According to a recent IBM Research study [PDF], you will not remember quickly. In fact, the study found that keyword searching for an email is quicker and more efficient than filing or tagging emails and trying to "re-find" them later. The study also found that "frequent filers," those who constantly file messages to a folder quickly, tend to remember less about their email messages, and are thus even more doomed to forget where they put them.
It seems harmless. You show up to a meeting uncertain of what's on the agenda, because... there isn't one. The conversation weaves in and out of work and weekend activities and doesn't seem to get off the ground before people start leaving for other meetings. Attendees take charge of the meeting with their own agendas. Although the organizer seems happy and has gained some information, you don't feel like you were able to contribute and you're left frustrated.
But it doesn't have to be this way. David Allen, the Personal Productivity Guru and author of the book Stress Free Productivity, says that a meeting organizer should approach meetings in the same way the human brain naturally plans and accomplishes a task, by:
- Defining purpose and principles
- Envisioning outcome (what do we want to accomplish?)
- Identifying next actions
Allen says that without this type of planning, the meeting will lack clarity, increase stress and likely be taken over by the most verbally aggressive person.
Stress is part of life, but personal financial stress has a direct negative impact on work productivity.
According to Tom Garman of the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation, 30 to 80 percent of all workers waste 12 to 20 hours per month at work on personal money issues.
Garman doesn't recommend raises, bonuses or even employee assistance programs. Instead, he recommends a financial wellness program that will create financially literate employees. By providing easy access to the following quality items, Garman says that employers can truly help their employees while increasing profits:
- Basic financial education
- Credit counseling
- Benefits information/education
- Credit union
- Retirement education
- Financial advice
- Financial coaching that changes behaviors
Shaving bits of time off your work day can really add up.
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