Eliminate Distractions and Be More Productive in 2021
Why do we even make New Year’s resolutions?
Well, we all get to the end of the year and want to achieve professional goals for the year to come. However, our productivity generally slumps around the holidays, and our big plans for the New Year?
They usually fail.
A Forbes study even said that only 8% of people achieve their workplace resolutions! If you want you and the rest of your employees to stop being part of the 92 percent, you need to understand something first.
Why Do We Fail?
It’s not just at New Year’s that we find ourselves reneging on our business goals. Actually, 70% of people who set goals at all fail to complete them. So why do we fail to achieve our goals? Some of the most significant factors are:
- They’re too big — “Rank #1 on Google” is admirable, but pretty unrealistic.
- They’re not specific enough — “Improve website traffic.” Better traffic is something we all want to find underneath the Christmas tree. It’s a bit vague, though.
- They deal with the symptom, not the issue — “Funnel more money into marketing.” This isn’t going to solve anything if there are underlying problems.
However, it’s not just about the way we form our goals but the environment in which we try to achieve them.
Let’s have a look at the biggest challenges that we face in the workplace:
- Endless emails
- Too many texts
- Masses of meetings
- So much social media
And this recovery time from each distraction? That’s what we call a switching cost. This associated cost results in time lost, and it makes it harder to resume habitual tasks. A habitual task, for example, might be something that you can typically complete seamlessly — like checking your email!
Pretty crazy right?
It’s no surprise then that with all these distractions we often find ourselves multitasking.
We’re not re-inventing the wheel here when we say that multitasking decreases productivity. We can’t stop using multi-platform communications, like WhatsApp and email. But we can work on our tendency to work on projects and emails all at once. Just imagine that switching tasks more than ten times a day decreases your IQ more than being stoned!
So with all the distractions and task switching at work, how can we set measurable, realistic goals?
Use the SMART Goals Framework
Well, a good place to start would be SMART goals. The idea of SMART goals stands for:
- Specific — The what, where, and why of your goal.
- Measurable — How will you measure your progress?
- Achievable — Is it challenging but doable?
- Realistic — Is it the right time in your company for this goal?
- Timeframe — Create urgency to reach your milestones.
By setting SMART goals, you can protect yourself from failure at the source. It can become a framework for turning vague resolutions into actionable goals.
Example SMART Goal
Let’s have a look at why a standard resolution might fail the SMART test, and how we can improve it:
- I want to earn more — Nope, be more Specific!
- I want to earn more than I did last year — Ok, now make it Measurable.
- I want to earn $10million — C’mon, try something Achievable!
- I want to earn 10% more than last year — Great, that’s Realistic.
- I want to do it within the year — Perfect, that’s a reasonable Timeframe.
In the end, we’ve come a long way to arrive at a SMART goal of: “I want to earn 10% more than last year, within this financial year.”
See how the SMART framework can help you interrogate your resolutions until they’re achievable?
By even just writing your goals down, you’re 42% more likely to achieve them. I even came up with the SMART goal to: Write this article, get it edited and finalized within two weeks!
But how do we go about measuring our SMART goals?
OKRs: Objectives and Key Results
You could use OKRs — famously employed by Google, Twitter and LinkedIn. This framework stands for: Objectives and Key Results. It can help your organization to achieve goals by building specific and measurable actions.
When we think about objectives, we mean:
- Specific endpoints
- Short and inspirational objectives
- Can be organized yearly or quarterly
If the objectives are where we want to get to, then the key results are:
- How we get there
- Measurable milestones which advance the objective
Let’s have a look at an example of how OKRs could help you achieve your New Year’s resolution.
- We will increase profit by 20% from last year (Objective).
For this objective, you should have 2–5 key results by which you can measure success. A couple of these might be:
- We will reduce production costs by 10%.
- We will implement new shipping software by March 2021.
You need to make sure that OKRs are simple and agile so that they can respond quickly to market changes. They also need to be collaborative — this will help with transparency across all levels of your organization.
Ultimately, the objective with both of these frameworks is to break goals down into milestones.
Then, you can break those milestones down into tasks.
So now we’ve set our goals and their milestones — how can we make sure that we stay on track with our resolutions?
One of the best ways to measure your key results (OKRs) or the ‘measurable’ aspect (SMART goals) is to track your data.
Should you even set a goal if you can’t measure your success?
Tracking your progress is the key to success. If you wanted to be healthier, you might count calories. If you wanted to run a marathon, you might shave down your mile time. If you want to boost your business productivity, you might use a tool like actiTIME, where you can monitor and manage time tracking and reports.
With all the distractions and multitasking, you might also find yourself wanting to delegate certain tasks.
Studies have shown that 77% of small business owners experience burnout. But, 53% believe that they can grow their business if they delegate 10% of their workload! So why don’t they? When you get stressed, it affects your goal-setting strategies and completion rate. You tend to:
- Overthink — You avoid making choices and end up creating more work.
- Get overwhelmed — You become frustrated and confrontational.
- Oversimplify — You take illogical, impulsive shortcuts and focus on short-term
So why aren’t you delegating and outsourcing?
By outsourcing time-consuming tasks, you benefit you and your employees. This will allow you to focus on company goals whilst reducing workplace pressure.
Some areas to target for 2021 might be:
- Delegate administrative tasks to cut down on multitasking.
- Outsource your appointment setting to save your sales team time.
- Delegate anything you simply don’t want to or don’t have time to do.
- Outsource anything you don’t have prior knowledge of, or existing software for (which can be expensive!), like SEO campaigns, accounting, website development, etc.
59% of businesses now use outsourcing to reduce their expenses. But you’re still going to need to change the way that you and your team set goals in-house in the New Year. Your key takeaway from this article should be this:
- Focus on LESS to achieve MORE.
- Set SMART goals for your business in 2021.
- Share plans across your business with OKRs to track your progress milestones.
- Delegate smaller tasks and even outsource.
- And cut out distractions and multitasking.
Then you’ll be on the road for a very productive 2021!
This article was contributed to actitime.com by Harry Patté-Dobbs, a content writing and PR expert at Pearl Lemon.