Moving From Busy Work to Productive Work


Why are we not completing our tasks as quickly and efficiently as we would like?

We know what needs to be done; however, we don’t accomplish what we set out to do. 

Perhaps we need to be more focused with organized systems to complete our tasks in a more efficient manner.


  • Employees have increased workload with less time and resources to complete their work.
  • The nature of most jobs has changed; traditional approaches no longer work and boundaries are often blurred.  Some staff have not developed new skillsets or adjusted to new work habits.
  • Information is readily available on the Internet; thus making research longer and decision making more challenging.
  • Rapidly changing technology makes employees available 24/7 and they are often expected to respond immediately.
  • Jobs, responsibilities, and priorities keep changing.
  • Employees face more distractions, resulting in less focus on work.
  • Higher standards and expectations are anticipated from the employer and clients.
  • Employees are expected to come up with new and innovation approaches.
  • Less face to face interaction and more reliance in technology results in miscommunication and misunderstanding.
  • Everything seems to be happening faster.

The result is that employees are constantly shifting from one priority to another, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and at times, underappreciated.  Their minds are constantly skipping from one idea to the next and they have trouble focusing on getting their tasks completed.  Some people call these “popcorn days”, where they are bouncing around from one priority to another and accomplish few outcomes at the end of the day.


Systems and techniques are needed to capture, control and organize work.  The following are five ideas to enable focus and better manage time and workflow:

1.  Set clear expectations for yourself and your staff – Ensure that task expectations are clear for all employees. Revisit these objectives every few months to ensure that they are current. Regularly conduct discussions with your staff about the status of their workload and make adjustments as needed. Also, ensure that your objectives are clear.

2.  Pomodoro Method – Use the Pomodoro Method to block time and work in uninterrupted work spurts.  First of all, determine how much time a task should take.  Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on the task without any distractions.  When the timer goes off, set it for a 5-minute break.  Repeat the process two or three more times.  You will be pleasantly surprised on the number of tasks you get done in short bursts of time.

3.  Use the 2 – minute briefing method – Plan the purpose of the briefing such as to make a decision, share information, to persuade, or to make a recommendation and consider who is your audience.  Consider their experience and background with the concept.  Organize the request into two parts: 1) the request and 2) the rationale.  Communicate the information including some background, rationale, and key points. 

4.  Use your prime time to do your best work while you are at your best.  Determine when your energy is at the highest point and complete your most important tasks during this time such as planning next year’s budget.  Leave less demanding tasks such as meeting team members to discuss the office picnic event for your lower energy times.  (Not saying that picnics are not important…)

5.  Say “no” without causing offense or resentment.  First of all, listen to the request and acknowledge what you believe the request is.  Say, “No” and back it up with reasons.  (These need to be legitimate reasons.)  Offer options such as an alternate time so you will be able to accomplish the task or show someone how to do the task.

By making small changes each day, we can achieve more and obtain better results!

Back to News List