Get off the hamster wheel, and find where your time went

If you sometimes feel like you failed to put in a full and focused eight hours a day at the office, it’s likely because you didn’t. And it’s not entirely your fault.

Here at Ripley, a leading B2B public relations agency, we’ve put some procedures in place to improve productivity, and constantly strive to get the most out of our days. We’ve experimented with different protocols to ease the crush of emails, and even developed stylized do-not-disturb signs. Each employee has an hour glass that can be flipped over to indicate it’s not a good time for interruption. The search for ways to throw a lid on time-sucks never ends, but there is lots of tried and true advice out there that applies across all design, construction, software and home services industries.

There are a number of productivity killers, but the most common are meetings, email and often trivial interruptions.

Atlassian, a developer of work-management software of varying applications, offers a fairly astonishing by-the-numbers look at ways productivity can be sucked out of the work day:

  • 10: IQ points lost handling a constant flow of email.
  • 3,000: Productivity, in dollars, lost each year by companies to trivial emails and spam.
  • 31: Hours burned on unnecessary meetings each month – three-quarters of a work week.
  • 91: Percent of employees who daydreamed during meetings.
  • 40: Percent of employees who actually slept during meetings.
  • 56: Interruptions per employee on an average day.
  • 3: Minutes spent on one task before a distraction occurs.


Getting back on track

  • Don’t stress stress: A little bit of cortisol can actually help workers focus and set deadlines, according to an columnist.
  • Consider whether the point of a meeting can be addressed – perhaps ironically – in an email.
  • Don’t multi-task. It can actually throw you off your stride. Focus on one goal at a time.
  • Dampen the dings and bells and whistles and turn off notification alarms. Check your emails or texts at specific times of day.
  • Reduce interruptions. Close your door. Customize a ‘do-not-disturb’ sign for your workplace.
  • Take regular breaks. Performance and focus can decline quickly.
  • Get your most difficult tasks out of the way at the beginning of the day.
  • Identify the time of day you are most productive and schedule around it.
  • Get plenty of sleep.


Perhaps the most important element of completing any task – or series of daylong obligations – is simply taking the first step.

As Mark Twain said, “the secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Follow the sage author’s advice, and the tips above, and you’ll get more out of your day and give back more to your business.

The B2B experts at Ripley PR, a Maryville-based public relations agency, would be happy to share more advice for ways employees in your home services, design, software or construction businesses can make better use of their – and your – time and ultimately beat the clock.


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