Is your work time productive? These tips and tools could increase efficiency


How much work can employees accomplish in a single day?

While top performers may be able to extract efficiency from almost every minute, the average yield is surprising. According to Inc., during an eight-hour day, workers are productive for less than three hours.

This leaves significant room for improvement.

Interruptions and distractions play a central role. A study from the University of California at Irvine found that it can take more than 23 minutes getting back on track after being interrupted. However, that’s not the whole story. Inefficiencies, poor planning and lack of proper tools also erode productivity.

Small changes to your work routine can have a big impact on efficiency.I work as a Content Strategist at Succeed, a digital agency located in Roanoke. Our team frequently thinks of creative ways to maximize productivity. For nearly a decade, we also maintained a full-time, four-day work week. This makes every hour between Monday and Thursday all the more valuable.

We’d like to share some tips and tools that might help you stay focused no matter where you work.

Productivity Tips

Small changes like these can have a big impact on efficiency, especially when used in tandem.

Small changes to your work routine can have a big impact on efficiency.Blocking time

Parkinson’s Law offers the familiar adage that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

This reality plays out every day. If an employee has all week to complete a project, chances are it will take all week. This is especially true if the project is being worked on in small chunks at a time.

Rather than wandering from project to project, schedule blocks of time for specific tasks. For example, set aside 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday to work on a report. In addition to providing a built-in delay, this prevents a two-hour task from expanding into three or four hours. It also ensures that time is allocated to high priority needs.

By adding time slots to a public calendar, co-workers will be less likely to interrupt or schedule a meeting during that time.

Pause notifications

“Do you have a second? »

Distractions like this, whether online or in person, happen all the time. Employees are frequently interrupted during the day. Although it may seem trivial, it takes time to refocus on the task at hand. This careful arm wrestling prevents deep work to occur.

To significantly reduce distractions, pause notifications from email, phone, and any chat tools. Then, at checkpoints throughout the day, divert attention from the to-do list to responding to messages. This balance ensures that the real work can be done without neglecting other team members.

Small changes to your work routine can have a big impact on efficiency.Stop multitasking

Although it seems counterintuitive, multitasking actually makes individuals less efficient. According to one study, only 2.5 % of people are super-taskers able to successfully juggle multiple responsibilities at once.

In addition to physical risks, constantly switching from one task to another can lead to unnecessary stress and burnout. Instead, it’s more productive to focus on one responsibility at a time.

Multitasking also extends to what’s going on in the background. Whether that means having the TV on while keeping social media tabs open, limiting focus is better than dividing it.

Tools for productivity

These tools are easy to adopt and offer a range of benefits. All three are also free to try.


Otter is a real-time transcription tool that turns any chat into text and audio. Instead of dividing attention between listening and taking notes, this tool keeps everyone engaged.

Otter is a real-time transcription tool that turns any chat into text and audio.Trello

Trello is a project management tool that makes it easier for teams to collaborate. Instead of relying on in-progress emails or messages, the visual dashboard allows anyone to assess progress at a glance and assign individual tasks as needed.


Soft is a communication tool that simplifies collaboration. Instead of relying on email, which can be hard to find weeks or even days later, conversations on Slack are easy to maintain. By creating channels for specific projects, the right group of people always have access to the latest information.

Productivity is not an all-or-nothing issue. Some days will be better than others, but it’s important to remember that even small improvements compound over time.

And the more efficient you are at work, the more flexibility you can gain in your schedule.

This story is part of a blog series with Reusser.

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