Productivity Killing Words



Today I came across an article (6 Phrases Secretly Sabotaging Your Team's Productivity) with a bit of an odd mix of information, but all of it was really good. Opening things,  Karla Cook covers some stats regarding productivity killers for workers. This is based on a study conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and their American Time Use Survey completed for 2015. One of the things that I liked about the information from this study is that it quantifies some truths that we all know.


For instance, we have all heard and are aware that checking social media during the day impacts our productivity. According to the survey, the average worker putting in 8.8 hours per day loses 44 minutes to social media, which is just a tick over 8% of their time. Trying to block social media sites may not be all that effective though as an almost equal amount of time is lost discussing non-work related subjects with co-workers. I doubt a policy forbidding social conversations during work hours will help develop a motivated workforce (although I am reminded of the call center that Michael Scott worked at briefly on The Office). Better solutions might be to help workers improve their productivity and efficiency through better habits or perhaps some effective tools.

Besides the lost productivity to four major areas of activity, Cook also veers off into a list of six phrases that have a negative impact on productivity. The phrases include:

  • "I need that by the end of the day."
  • "The project is 75% done."
  • "I'm not sure that's the best approach."
  • "Could you finalize the final final verison?"
  • "Let's take this offline."
  • "We need to think bigger/better/outside of the box."

I'm hopeful that I'm not guilty of using these. What about you? I know I have seen almost every one of these used in real life. Unfortunately, I know some people who routinely used them for the exact reasons that Cook cites in the article. For example, using "Let's take this offline" as a way to avoid having a difficult discussion on a topic.

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