Un-Productivity Bingo: Our 3 Least Favorite Productivity Killers

June 30, 2017 Marcus Varner

un productivity bingo game

Let's agree on four things.

#1: The overwhelming majority of knowledge workers wants to be productive.

#2: We all know that being in the same space can make it easier to coordinate and collaborate and help things move faster.

#3: We also know that the technology we use to communicate about and organize our work information have greatly increased what we accomplish and how we fast can get it done. 

But before you give a big round of applause to humanity and their inevitable march into the perfectly productive work world of tomorrow, along comes #4:  #2 and #3 have a way of turning on #1.

The people we work with and the tools we use can often be the biggest barriers to the productivity we hold so dear. Based on our new sharable "Un-Productivity Bingo" (which you can download here) here are our three most hated office productivity killers:

1. The Stealth Email Request

Yep, you've seen this one before. Frazzled co-worker shows up at your desk and starts the conversation with something like "So do you have it done?"

This is usually followed by your response, something akin to "Do I have what done?"

Long story short, you didn't see it, maybe because it arrived in your inbox on a high-volume email day. Or maybe you accidentally deleted it. The possibilities are endless...

Whatever the reason: it's freak-out time for your frazzled visitor and hair-on-fire time for you. And whatever you had planned to get done today is blown to next week.

Truth Time! Email is a crappy way to send and receive work requests. You rarely get enough detail. The chances of the request being missed or forgotten are high. Work management solutions, on the other hand, are much better at capturing critical request requirements up front and tracking requests to make sure they get to those who will be working on them.

2. The Marathon Status Meeting

For all the advancements we've made in the field of automated notifications (Is there a field for that?) and cloud-based tools, how is that we still find ourselves sitting in rooms together going over project statuses, one task and one participant at a time, for hours at a time?  

Usually, this results in one person talking, while everyone else is either sneaking in work on their laptops or longing to be out of the meeting so they can get back to the work they need to get done.

Tragically, the information shared in the meeting is often outdated before the day is even done.

Truth Time! This practice is expensive and usually comes from people who don't feel busy or in control unless they can get everyone into a meeting. Don't be that person! Instead, use cloud-based work management solutions that automatically collect and disseminate project status information in real time and let people get back to the work they were hired to do.

3. Noisy Neighbors

Collaboration is great. Camaraderie and the feeling of belonging to a tribe are also great. But sometimes co-workers can overshare in terms of their passions, political leanings, interests, relationships, etc., making it impossible to concentrate in their work. Unless you have the blessing of really good noise-cancelling headphones, noisy neighbors' work-irrelevant conversations can obliterate your productivity and produce enmity, instead of unity. 

Love/hate the president? Unless you work in politics, it likely has nothing to do with your job. 

Were you moved by last night's performance on DWTS? Also irrelevant to work, most likely.

Can't wait to share that video of a cat chasing a laser dot with everyone who passes your desk? Most definitely, irrelevant to work.

Truth Time! Side discussions on politics, movies, your six-month European trek, or your reality show of choice can be provide moments of levity and bonding. But they should be just that—moments. Deployed at the right time. Not when the person next to you under a tight deadline and needs every productive second he or she can get. Need more time to share? Move your conversation to a conference room or a local eatery.


To see more of the productivity killers that keep us from getting stuff done, download Un-Productivity Bingo today.

About the Author

Marcus Varner

Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.

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