The death of old work habits
Productivity Improvement | 03.05.2014

The death of old work habits

“Many people look forward to the new year for a new start to an old habit”

After I got promoted to Project Manager I was super excited about the role and couldn’t go to bed thinking of all the innovative changes and ideas I would be bringing to the table. Next day I went to office all charged to take on the world, only to be struck with a blow to my head. My team was lackadaisical, distracted, stressed and hanging by a thin thread, like their life depended on it. After recovering from my shock I decided that this could not alter my dream and something had to be done about it. I observed the current working style and found some major black holes. Unfortunately they had gotten so stuck with the ecosystem that the people didn’t realize these black holes were sucking the marrow out of the bone. Some of my observations were:

  • The smartphone was one device like the monkey on the back which distracted them the whole time
  • Meetings went longer than scheduled, all thanks to hijackers and for topics that were not on the agenda
  • The never ending tabs on the browser were causing limitless work gaps
  • Obsession with hitting ‘Send/Receive” and “45 new tweets” every ten minutes
  • Answering every non- urgent phone call, whatsapp or tweet, as soon as received
  • Unable to distinguish work on the basis of urgency and importance
  • Everybody pecking on the back for some info or the other, leaving no alone- time to work.

I saw that some of the above reasons were resulting in a major time and effort crunch, which did not benefit my managers or my team. The temperament was always tensed and stressed out, long hours were spent in the office but work done was only half of that, deadlines got missed albeit the extra hours, there was performance leakage and at the end of the day neither the CEO nor the client was happy.

After my research and collating some data I concluded that some minor changes would go a long way in maintaining the ecosystem balance and harmony. Some of the changes were:

  • Charting work on the basis of ‘urgent and important’ matrix
  • Setting clear objectives and agenda for meetings and having one pilot for the meeting
  • Habituating to checking Mail and social media only after fixed long intervals
  • Keeping only relevant tabs and no playing rapid fire with social media content
  • Sending calls to direct voice mails unless from your MD or mom
  • Openly declare ‘Do not disturb’ time zone for at least 90 minutes to begin with
  • Short achievable ‘To- Do’ lists

After incorporating some of these habits my team started performing at 20% higher productivity, the team was happier and relaxed, and importantly, the CEO and the client were amazed at the metamorphosis.

All’s well that ends well.

Stay tuned for my next post since I will be writing on the complexity of convincing my team on the change and how they eventually got comfortable with it.