What has changed in our world in recent years?

The quality of life at work and at home seems to be changing. In fact, nothing has changed except the pace of demands and changes that are being asked of us.

How do we explain these frantic rhythms and incessant demands? Simply because of the exponential improvement in technology. Technology also blurs the boundaries between personal and professional life. It also increases distractions.

These changes and increased demands produce anxiety, insecurity and an urgency to regain control of events. And we are forced to rethink what we do and how we do it frequently and more frequently.

This frenetic pace combined with the action bias (i.e. the fact that we would rather act than do nothing) leads us, unwittingly, to fall into three traps.

Trap 1: First, we often fall into the trap of urgency at the expense of importance. This leaves us little time to reflect or develop. A study shows that more than 50% of managers’ tasks take less than 9 minutes, leaving little time for reflection. The average employee has only one block of 30 minutes or more uninterrupted every other day. It is therefore no surprise when more than 50% of workers feel that they are overworked for part of their working time, which leads to mistakes, anger and resentment towards other employees.

Trap 2: We also fall into the trap of multi-tasking: and multi-taskers are among the least productive people. A study reveals two startling facts about multi-tasking:

– It lowers productivity by almost 40%,

– Multi-taskers are the least successful at what they do.

Multitasking is not so much doing several things at once as quickly switching from one thing to another without accomplishing anything efficiently. This leads to mistakes and choices of projects or activities that are not necessarily the right ones. Short-term results are chosen at the expense of the long-term.

Trap 3: A third common mistake is to work towards the wrong objectives. And it’s easy to invest our time and energy in activities that are not important to us because we like the rewards that come with them and we also like the challenge. Being aware of who we really are and what our purpose is (individually or collectively) protects us from the trap of setting the wrong goals that we will later regret. Thinking about why we are doing what we are doing allows us to clearly define our objective, to have clearer criteria for decisions, to better direct resources, to stay motivated, to free the mind for better concentration and also to multiply the alternatives.

Meetings (or group work time) are no exception to these traps.

How many of us are not familiar with urgent meetings with unclear objectives and roles? And they are a way of occupying time rather than investing it.

Yet the number of meetings employees attend has a direct impact on their well-being at work.

It has been shown that the decrease in productivity of an employee is directly correlated to the increase in the number of meetings.

Who has not seen their operational and productive working time melt away at the expense of a proliferation of numerous and sometimes pointless meetings over the last two years?

Even though meetings sometimes drain our energy, we need them to collaborate, to decide, to find new ideas, to learn from others etc. According to one study, 15% of an individual’s job satisfaction depends on the quality of the meetings they attend, which is considerable given the number of elements that go into personal job satisfaction (pay, recognition, career development, relationship with boss etc).

Managing team time in the most efficient way therefore contributes to the quality of working life. It helps to develop a healthier relationship with one’s work and life in general.

On average, we spend less than 50 percent of our working day on tasks that are important and impactful for our team life and our own professional life. The rest of the time is spent on interruptions, non-essential tasks, administrative tasks, emails and meetings. Wouldn’t it be nice to increase the amount of time spent on important and impactful work?

In psychology, it is stated that good time management is also an effective strategy for reducing stress levels. It allows you to regain a certain level of control over events and to increase your ability to anticipate events in order to adapt to them more serenely.

What if managing your team time became a team lifestyle that helped you stay in control of events and allowed you to stay relaxed and focused and no longer be at the mercy of emergencies, non-priorities and being the victim of multi-tasking?

Perhaps reviewing your collective time at different levels would allow you to :

– Clarify what is important for your role and your life in order to get rid of or reduce the unimportant that puts pressure on us to react and do what doesn’t make much sense. You will then focus your attention on what has impact. Even if sometimes this does not necessarily bring you only joy and serenity.

Delegate what you can, according to the rules of delegation.

– Learn to say no to certain things or at least not be so quick to say yes.

– Become an expert in effective meetings.

How do you manage your meetings? Are they prepared? With a clear agenda? Within a time limit ? What do you expect from each of your meetings in terms of results or interactions? Have you already taken stock of all your meetings? Do you have to attend all of them? Can you set up delegations? You are asked to attend a new meeting: how do you choose whether or not to attend? Forcing yourself to go to a meeting does not make you a better employee. Attending a meeting means giving your time to collaborate, exchange ideas, solve problems and decide. It is a sacred space. Where trust is built. Are all your meetings necessary? Are they equally productive?

– And take the opportunity to review the rules of email.

That famous email inbox! How do you manage your emails? How much time do you spend on them per day? What personal and collective rules have you put in place to make email management easier? How do you manage email emergencies? What situations do you not manage via email? Do you prefer other communication channels for certain types of situations?

Good management of collective time is an undeniable vector of efficiency and performance, but also of quality of life at work, provided that we revise our practices regularly according to changes in roles, direction, actors, etc.

To your diaries and new collective practices!


Sources of inspiration :

  • S’organiser pour Réussir de David Allen. Editions Alisio.
  • Joy At Work de Marie Kondo et Scott Sonenshein. Editions Bluebird books for Life.
  • Votre santé au travail de Michel Cymes. Solar Editions.
  • Our own experiences.