So much to do, so little time. We’re only granted 24 hours a day, and too often, it’s just not enough. Many people work very busy jobs that cause them to feel the pressure of time all day long. Sometimes success simply comes down to having a relationship with a little friend named Productivity.

You may produce the best result at your job, but if you can’t be efficient and complete your tasks on time, you’re not the best person at your job. With time comes the privilege of critical thinking, thoroughness, and the ability to double check. Not everyone has those luxuries, so finding ways to make do with the time you’re granted is imperative. 

While your level of productivity certainly affects your company, it can also affect your personal life. Safe to say– falling behind on work or spending a couple extra hours a day at the office are not ideal scenarios. Even at home, some people have trouble letting go of work stress, leaving them robbed of free time and drowning in work. 

We don’t always realize how the small habits we practice largely affect our time management. Stripping away some tendencies and adjusting accordingly can open up more time at work to focus on time-pressed or time-consuming endeavors. 

1 Notification = 23 minutes

When any alert or notification pops up on your phone, you’re inclined to look at it. Admit it– you know you do. We all do. While putting your phone on vibrate or silent eliminates the sound aspect, your phone still lights up when you receive a notification, and the light draws you into the vortex of neverending screen time. Even if you’re not so tempted to tap the notification, your attention is breached from the moment you notice it’s there. 

According to an article by Harvard Business Review, “What we call multitasking is, in actuality, task switching, because it’s just not true that we can pay attention to two things simultaneously. After a notification has forced us to switch between tasks, it can take us about 23 minutes to get back to the task at hand, according to a study from University of California, Irvine. When you consider that the average executive touches their phone 2,617 times a day, checks emails 74 times a day and receives 46 smartphone notifications a day, it’s likely that most executives never spend any time in flow at all.”

You are a product of your environment. What you surround yourself with will influence your thoughts and behavior. Take charge of the factors that you control in an effort to reach your end goal. For example, people who are dieting typically don’t stock their pantries with treats and unhealthy snacks because it provides temptation and distraction from their goal. Applied to a workplace setting, if your goal at work is to be productive and get your job done well, then eliminate things that will inhibit your ability to do so. 

A few ways to begin limiting your time on your phone at work include disabling all notifications, turning your phone off or on airplane mode, and using apps to track and set limits on your screen time. 

Emails for Days

Emailing people and responding to others’ emails can take up a large portion of your work day, 28% (2.6 hours) of it actually, according to a HBR article. Communication is an important part of most every job, so the activity of emailing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Emails are important and productive, but they can quickly become unnecessarily time-consuming.

Checking for new emails is probably a habit you’ve become quite familiar with, perhaps more than you should. According to HBR, “On average, professionals check their email 15 times per day, or every 37 minutes.” Many workers check their email every time they get a notification, when they’re eager for a response, or just because they’ve made it a habit.

If you turn your email notifications off and make a new habit to only check your email once every hour, you can cut out six checks and free up 21 minutes of your day. 

Another email-related distraction to your work productivity is due to the disorganization of your inbox. A couple ideas for helping you save some time and stay organized include: 1. Moving emails out of the inbox once read and 2. Using the Search feature to find emails, rather than creating multiple category folders. Spam and other irrelevant emails should be blocked or unsubscribed to. 

Full inboxes waste 27 minutes per day, using folders wastes 14 minutes, and irrelevant emails wastes 8 minutes. You just earned yourself 49 more minutes to get work done!

First Things First

We all have to-do lists. Whether we choose to write them out or mentally formulate them doesn’t change the fact that we have things we must get done. People commonly gravitate toward accomplishing smaller, easier tasks on the list first that are quick to complete. Immediate gratification! Half of the list is done. What’s left now are the tasks that will take more time and brainpower– the ones being avoided, but likely the ones that are most essential. 

A Fast Company article provides insight from Jeff Skipper, an expert in leadership and change management. “Just because you’re checking something off the list doesn’t mean it was worthwhile doing,” Skipper says about non-essential tasks.

From now on, organize your to-do list in order of what’s more important and time-pressed, and then complete tasks in that order. Most of the small tasks are non-essential, busy work, or could be delegated to someone else. You’re really just procrastinating what needs to be done and decreasing your productivity. Depending on the small task, save it for later or eliminate it entirely. 

Being productive is an addicting feeling. Once you get a couple of the big, important tasks under your belt, you’re going to feel motivated to keep going. And this time, you’re crossing things off your list that actually belong there. 


Truth is, there are enough hours in the day. You just have to learn how to use them wisely. For more ways to create improved performance at work, give Knowted a call today and ask about our coaching services.

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