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how to beat the three most
dangerous productivity
Brought to you by
Brought to you by
how to beat the three most
dangerous productivity
Look at your nei ghbor’ s desk. Does your
col l eague seem worry-f ree and al ways ends
hi s or her workday at f i ve o’ cl ock on t he dot ?
Then there’s a big chance that your colleague is among
the lucky 13% of workers who manage to avoid overworking.
You, on the other hand, have an 87% chance of overworking
at least 1 hour per week.
Manage to avoid overworking
Our feelings about those extra hours vary. For some indus-
tries a strict 40 hour week is not an option. Even if your com-
pany typically sticks to a 40 hour work week, there are situa-
tions when you might need to stay a couple of extra hours to
make sure everything is set and ready. But if overworking
leaves you stressed, it might hurt your productivity.
So, what if you and your teammates could work less and, at the
same time, get more done more during the day? To accomplish
this you just need to figure out a way to make ALL the time you
spend at work productive.
How can this simple e-book help you with that?
How can this simple e-book help you with that?
First, armed with the results of multiple research studies, in-
cluding our own, we’ll introduce you to the three most dan-
gerous productivity killers. This introduction, however, would
be TBU (true-but-useless), unless backed up by some action
items. That’s why we’ll also provide you with an arsenal of
weapons to get rid of these threats once and for all.
Share this book:
Meet Tim, an “average” manager who
has been recently assigned to run a
marketing team. Though he has their
best interests at heart, Tim doesn’t
seem to use his team to their fullest
To get the knack of each productivity killer, you’ll see it
through two stories: Tim’s and Tom’s. By the end of each chap-
ter, you’ll find a useful tip box that will help you make the
Tom’s insights even more practical. So, without further ado, let
us introduce you to the first of the three most notorious pro-
ductivity killers.
Now, let’s imagine there’s a “better ver-
sion” of him who happens to know a
couple of useful tricks and scientifically
proven techniques that help him trans-
form the way his new team operates
and thinks. Let’s call him Tom.
Chapt er 1
Problem: Interruptions
Problem: Interruptions
It’s half past one. Tim needs to finish a presentation for his client meet-
ing by 3 p.m.
At this moment his colleague Rachel, a designer, comes to his desk to
show the brochure she’s been working on and ask Tim’s opinion on the
general color scheme. Surely, it will only take a minute. Fifteen minutes
later, Tim is trying to get back to his presentation, when Josh, from the
business intelligence team, rushes in to him to share how frustrated he
is with the necessity to add the extra graphs to the monthly report.
Trying to continue working on the presentation in the background, Tim
ensures Josh that it’s a forced necessity and will pay off. After a while
Josh leaves, and just when Tim manages to get his focus back, the phone
rings and it takes Tim ten more minutes to give his telecommuting col-
league some clarifications on the latest assignment. Frustrated by the
call, Tim checks his e-mail inbox and finds himself answering a journal-
ist who asks to send her a couple of promo pics from his latest ad cam-
Some minutes later Tim looks at the clock. It’s half past two, and he still
has at least half way to go with the presentation.
In Wrike’s recent survey we asked almost 2,000 men and women
what they consider to be the biggest threat to their daily pro-
ductivity. Interruptions were a clear winner with more than 80%
of the votes. Anyone’s groove can be easily ruined by another
task or even a non-working issue, and studies show that it takes
20 minutes on average to get your focus back!
Guess how of t en i nt errupt i ons t ypi cal l y
Duri ng t he day you are di st ract ed 60 t i mes!
Be it a disturbing noise, a phone call,
or a colleague's question, your
concentrations is under threat to be
broken every 8 minutes!
9 a.m.
5 p.m.
So, what can be done to deal with this sneaky productivity killer?
1 Filter interruptions as they arise
Tom knows that the ability to inhibit the possible distractions helps to
save focus and time. He is well familiar with Covey’s time management
matrix and uses it to divide the potential interruptions into four “boxes”
based on their importance and urgency.
Not important
Last-minute fixes for the feature
release, sending the statistics for
the presentation in progress
Professional training activities,
update list of potential clients,
draft marketing plan
Off topic phone calls and e-mails
Results of the yesterday’s game,
reading through RSS feeds
Urgent Not urgent
These are the easiest ones, so Tom saves them for lunch and scheduled “watercooler”
breaks. He also encourages his team mates to do the same.
Not important + not urgent
Urgent + not important
Important + not urgent
Important + urgent
There’s time for collaboration and there’s time for staying fully focused on your task.
Tom knows it. So instead of answering the ringing phone, he lets an administrative
assistant pick it up and ask the telecommuting teammate to call back in a couple of
hours. To keep his “flow”, Tom puts on his Beats and listens to his favorite music. He
knows that if something really important happens, his teammates would reach him
directly via his personal phone or drop by his desk.
Realizing that these matters affect his team’s long-term goals and success, Tom leaves
sufficient time for their completion. He creates a task in the task management system
he uses so that it doesn’t slip out of his sight. Then he sets time the next week to deal
with it.
Yes, this deserves Tom’s attention. Armed with knowledge about dual-task interfer-
ence, he knows that his brain can successfully deal with only one issue at a time, so
he tackles the arising issues one by one.
Before yelling, try telling
His teammates are no psychics and Tom knows it. So he
makes sure they are aware of the pressing presentation he’s
working on at the moment. Following the example of nurses
who wore special vests to let their colleagues and patients
know they are busy preparing medication and can’t be dis-
tracted, Tom puts a “do not disturb” sign on his desk and in his
Skype status. He also lets his colleagues know in the group’s
chat that he’ll be busy for the next couple of hours.
Mention your colleague’s
name in the task’s com-
ments to draw their atten-
tion to your question with-
out interrupting them. Your
colleague will later notice
the mention and will answer
as soon as they have time.
Mark the important but not
urgent tasks as “backlogged”
without the need to set a
strict due date. You’ll be able
to prioritize them and set
time to deal with them.
Use the timer in the task to
let your colleagues know
about the important/urgent
matter you are currently
working on. Once you click
“play”, the task you are work-
ing on is automatically broad-
casted to the Activity Stream
(real-time project news feed).
How Wrike can help you
2 3 1
Compare Tim and Tom when the clock strikes three. Tim, who was con-
stantly distracted, has only 20 out of 30 slides ready, keeps working on
the presentation until the very last moment and, as a result, is late to the
meeting and stressed. This becomes a mental distraction, and Tim
doesn’t have his best to give during the presentation. As you can imag-
ine, the client isn’t very impressed.
Tom, on the contrary, finishes the presentation 15 minutes early and has
time to drink a cup of coffee and get in the right mood for the meeting.
Confident and ready, his verbal and body language communicate confi-
dence, presence and charisma. As a result of the meeting, Tom gets a
fruitful contract for his company.
The productivity killer Tim is facing in this chapter came as the second most
dangerous one in our survey. No wonder. Statistics show that as much as 95%
of people admit that they procrastinate at least occasionally. And for 20% of us
it’s a chronic problem.
Chapt er 2
Problem: Procrastination
Problem: Procrastination
of us are chronic
of people admit
that they procrastinate
at least occasionally
Tim has two tasks he can’t make himself start working on.
First is a global financial conference he has to plan.
It’s been hanging over his head for the last two
weeks. But every time he opens the document
to start planning, he just stares at the
blank page and then switches to
another less pressing task. He also
needs to sort through all the busi-
ness cards he brought home
from the recent conference.
The task seems simple but
Tim keeps postponing it, and
now it has become almost
awkward to act on them.
The first question you need to answer is “Why?”
Why do we keep postponing a task till the very last minute and create
for ourselves a whole bunch of extra problems. To say nothing of
stress and panic. Once you figure out why you are procrastinating, you
can decide how to deal with it.
Tom knows that it will be easier to manage a task if he splits it
into several small actionable items that he can handle right
away. So he starts with making a guest list and then assigns his
assistant to look for the conference venue. He also creates a task
“Send out the invites” in his task management software. He now
feels that the conference monster is not that scary any more.
Split it into several small actionable items
Try using the “3+2” rule
Tom follows the advice of developer Jakub Stastny and
com-pletes 3 big and 2 small tasks and calls it a day. Today,
world domination can wait.
The reason why Tim can’t make himself sort through the busi-
ness cards is that the task seems too boring and meaningless
to him. What can Tom do about it?
The reason why Tim keeps postponing planning the confer-
ence is that the task is too big and complex. When we are
faced with such a task we just don’t know where to start, so
we never do. So, how would Tom handle it?
Keying in business cards from the conference can be repetitive
and boring. But often tasks like that are necessary. So, to get
through this task Tom promises himself a hot cup of his favor-
ite coffee in the nearby coffee shop. You just need to find your
own trigger.
Reward yourself
Sometimes taking a short break is more rewarding than making
yourself work through with gritted teeth, and Tom knows it.
Instead, he takes a 5 and recharges his productivity.
Take short breaks
Spice the things up a little. A quick piece of advice from Tom:
why not compete with a colleague on who finishes the
monthly report first? You can also compete with yourself and
do the same task 3x faster with no harm to quality.
Create a competition
Rock productivity with music!
Music with an upbeat rhythm
can reduce stress by as much
as 41%
Charge your brain with a quick snack
79% of workers believe coffee
breakes make them more
Get away from your desk
Regular, short exercise helps
53% of employees to feel more
active throughout the day
Tom’s choice:
How Wrike can help you
2 3 1
Nothing motivates like the
actual look of the well-done
job. Break down your big and
complex project into action-
able tasks and mark them
“complete” one by one. You can
then visualize your progress
on the Gantt chart and see
what else you have left to
Use time-tracking to see how
fast you can complete a
not-so-exciting but recurring
task next time (with no harm
to the quality, of course).
If you have several tasks to
complete, prioritize them in
your to-do list and avoid mul-
Share this book:
It’s impossible to foresee all the emergencies and
details from the very beginning.
So Tom starts with creating a “framework” for the
project. He opens the task management software
and sets the major goals and milestones. He knows
that a fixed time frame is important for the team’s
motivation, as it creates the needed level of posi-
tive stress. So he sets due dates for every milestone.
However, Tom understands that along the way, he’ll
be able to adjust the schedule and add more spe-
cific due dates based on the project details he gets.
Take it one step at a time
It should be done by…YESTERDAY!
Chapt er 3
Problem: Inaccurate planning
Problem: Inaccurate planning
It’s not the first time when Tim encounters a task that
took him twice the amount of time to complete as he
had planned. This time it was a client’s product
launch. He can’t understand when “Don’t worry, we
still have time to deal with it!” turned into “How can
this task be two weeks overdue?”
Tom believes his team members are competent and responsi-
ble enough to take care of their own tasks, so he doesn’t mind
sharing some planning power with them ;-) After all, a little
trust can pay off and bring great results.
During the planning phase, he lets his team members set
their own action items based on the defined goals. Their ex-
pertise will help them establish the possible roadblocks, op-
portunities, and develop a realistic schedule. And, as a bonus,
this will increase their sense of responsibility and will let
them know Tom trusts and believes in them; and that’s price-
Replace micromanagement with self-organizing
How Wrike can help you
Tim and Tom have gone a long way to fight the most notorious pro-
ductivity killers. It’s up to you to decide who’s done better ;-) How-
ever, staying productive throughout the day is easier than it may
seem. With these proven techniques and a little help from the right
task management software your team can finish more work in less
time, and easily become productivity superheroes.
Be victorious in your battle over productivity killers and have the
most productive day!
With love, your Wrike Team.
Add your project’s milestones to the Gantt chart
and make sure to plan the first one in detail.
Once your project progresses, you’ll be able to
add new tasks to the chart. And if there're any
changes along the way, you can easily adjust the
schedule with a simple drag-and-drop.
Encourage your team members to “pick” and
assign tasks to themselves. Meanwhile, you’ll be
able to keep an eye on the tasks’ progress in the
Activity Stream and be ready to step in if needed.
Task management software
that makes your life easier!
Start free trial

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