This original article appeared on CBS Small Business Pulse on 10/30/2015.

 

Do you have great employees, but feel as though they are not achieving as much as they could? If so, they may be falling victim to common distractions in the workplace that lead to decreased productivity. Let’s take a look at how to eliminate three common distractions and increase overall productivity through the use of visual communication.

1. Multitasking

Yes, multitasking. Losing focus when you try to manage two or three tasks at once is a major productivity killer. You likely know the feeling of being in the middle of a highly productive moment, only to be distracted by a notification from your inbox or a coworker showing up at your desk. Five minutes later, you have to refocus your mind to get back on track with what you were doing. A recent study found that it takes an average of twenty-five minutes to get refocused on a task after being distracted.

2. Meetings

Some meetings are essential, but many serve only to waste time. Meetings can chew up large chunks of the day and can be highly frustrating when they run overtime or turn out to be completely unnecessary.

The first way to increase meeting efficiency is to ensure that there is a specific goal for each meeting that cannot be accomplished in another way. Sending over information via one sync email can eliminate most meetings. This will give each team member an additional hour a week for productive tasks.

The second way to increase meeting efficiency is to only invite people to the meeting who truly need to be there. The next time you set up a meeting, look at each of the attendees you are inviting. Does each one need to be actively in the meeting to discuss the topic at hand? Or could they get by just as well with a written summary of what was discussed? If the answer to the latter question is yes, then skip the invite and send a summary instead.

The third way to increase meeting efficiency is to try shortening the time. Meetings lasting an hour or more seem to go off track more often than not. Try squeezing them into half an hour instead. If people know they have a short amount of time, they are more likely to use it efficiently, and avoid unrelated discussions.

3. Office Visits

Do your employees just pop by someone’s desk every time they have a question? Think about how much time an employee might be spend walking to someone’s desk and finding they are not there, only to start chatting with the employee sitting next to them until the person they were looking for returns.

Instead, encourage everyone to either use email (with the expectation that it might not get answered immediately) or use an instant messaging or chat platform like Slack in the office instead. This way, they can send their questions quickly and get answers as soon as the other person is available.

Implementing Visual Goals

Now that we have identified the common productivity killers in the office and how to eliminate (or at least reduce) them, let’s look at a great way to increase productivity. Studies show that people remember only 10 percent of what they hear and 20 percent of what they read, but 80 percent of what they see or do. So it’s no wonder that capturing and sharing visual content and communication has quickly become a popular means to share and receive information.

Your employees know that being more productive will ultimately increase the company’s bottom line. One of the best ways to motivate staff to be more productive is to help them visualize where they rank on their teams by broadcasting video and images. Visual content often lends itself to be more captivating than plain text. For example, Buffer reported that tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets and Hubspot says tweets with images receive 55 percent more leads than those without.

With the visual broadcast, leading employees can see how close the next person is to them, motivating them to increase their lead, so no one will catch up. The people ranked below will want to improve their performance in order to secure the top spot. Visualization ensures that everyone is on the same page and encourages teams to hit their daily and long-term goals. This leads to an overall increase in productivity as each member of the team will want to get as much from each day as possible.