Why some workers suck at getting their work done

"You are not your resume, you are your work" – Seth Godin

The difference between effective and ineffective workers is like night and day. If 2 workers in identical roles both have positive attitudes, how is it that 1 can drive outcomes and exceed targets, whereas the other frequently fails to reach expected outcomes or targets? The answer is work methods.

Here are 5 mistakes workers make that inhibit them from getting their work done.

Mistake #1: Don’t manage interruptions
Research from the University of Southern California found workers are interrupted once every 11 minutes and it takes an average of 23 minutes 15 seconds to get back on task.

Where possible disable technology interruptions (email alert, social media notifications) and establish a communication protocol for the people who frequently interrupt you.

Mistake #2: Are a slave to email
McKinsey reported that 28% of a knowledge workers week is consumed on email. The percentage is likely to be even higher for those who don’t know how to manage their email effectively.

Make decisions on how email will be stored and retrieved ie. use of folders or a crowded inbox? Embed a foolproof workflow for incoming and outstanding emails to be actioned. Workers often improve productivity on email by 50% when they know how to manage email.

Mistake #3: Are poor at planning and prioritising
Winston Churchill said: "He who fails to plan is planning to fail." Without a solid plan it’s also hard to prioritise effectively.

Have the cadence and discipline of a weekly planning process. It can be as simple as a 20-minute activity that sets the focus for the upcoming week.

Mistake #4: Have an unrealistic schedule
Unrealistic schedules are either too ambitious, a wish list or don’t allow for those things that tend to pop up each week that we need to react to.

Measure schedule accuracy and continue to refine until accuracy is greater than 95%.

Mistake #5: Execute poorly
The key difference between high achievers and everyone else is that high achievers are masterful at taking action on what’s important.

If you’ve reduced interruptions, have email under control, are planning, prioritising and scheduling effectively then ensure you’re focusing on the key criteria that drives success.

How can techniques become habits?

The good news is there are ways to resolve these 5 mistakes and other work method challenges. It won’t be a 1 size fits all approach. Instead, it will need to be customised to your strengths, weaknesses and preferences where there’s alignment with how you work at your best. To form habits, you might need a coach or a mentor to guide and keep you accountable.

The gap between effective and ineffective workers should be far closer than what it currently is. Bridge the gap by embedding superior work methods.