Consultant's corner: Practice 30-minute meetings and other time-saving skills

Friday, June 22, 2012

Less than optimal work habits can diminish personal productivity and negatively impact a company’s bottom line. Leaders and staff alike must be mindful of their current level of productivity and how they can make small changes to get the most out their day. 

A typical eight-hour shift is made up of 480 minutes—and out of those 480 minutes, a person will spend an average of 80 minutes doing things that are not directly related to completing work.

These non-work related activities include taking normal breaks; pausing for restroom breaks; and engaging in spontaneous socializing with others, etc. So, during an eight-hour shift, people really only have 400 minutes of time available to devote to productive work. 

Productivity is defined simply as the amount of work you can accomplish over a given period of time. 

Being more productive is not about being a “task master” over your team members. Being able to do more during a workday is more about heightening awareness of team members’ personal work habits and providing tips on how to increase their personal productivity. 

Improving personal productivity can be a challenge for leaders, as well—especially front-line leaders that find themselves in the dual role of leader and doer (actually doing the same work as your team members). 

Here are a few tips that you can use to increase your own level of personal productivity (and your team members, too): 

• Try scheduling a 30-minute meeting instead of an hour meeting. I have been using the 30-minute approach and I have found that the meetings are more focused, more productive, and much more efficient. Always start a meeting on time and end early. 

• Ask your team members how they start their day. I am amazed at the amount of time people can waste as they prepare to start their day by spending time on activities such as getting coffee, greeting others, and socializing. Arriving at work on time is not the same as being at your workstation and ready to go at the start of the day. Is your team ready when the “open” sign is turned on? 

• Organize your personal workspace, including your PC desktop. Leaders can spend an average of 45 minutes per day looking for information. Also be aware that nearly 60% of the stuff that comes across your desk during the course of a day, week, or month is stuff that you’ll never need again—it can be thrown out.

• How do you (and your team members) prioritize work? Leaders often assume that their idea of how activities and tasks should be prioritized are similar to their team members. Your idea of what should be prioritized is not always aligned with others.

• Leverage your high-performing employees—what things do they do well? How do they achieve consistent productivity results? Model their behavior in others and spread best practices.

• Recognize the part of the day where you tend to be the most productive—for many people, it is between the hours of 8:00 a.m. right up to lunch. Others tend to be more productive in the late afternoon. 

Have a productive week!

Chris Calderone is founder and president of Lean Homecare Consulting Group. Reach him at 734-709-5487 or