Knowledge workers (those who use their minds, analyze and propose ideas) spend 58% of their day doing repetitive and irrelevant tasks, approximately 23 of the 40 hours of a regular working week.
These tasks include responding to job notifications, searching for information, switching between different applications, managing changing priorities, or update the status of a job.
The data comes from the “Anatomy of Work Index”, prepared by Asana, specializing in labor management and organization tools.
To produce this report, 10,624 knowledge workers were surveyed, as are known to those who perform tasks related to their knowledge: this includes a wide range of professions, ranging from consultants, creative or scientific writers to computer scientists. Basically, it covers everyone who lives by generating ideas; that is, whose main value is the ability to think up new solutions, analyze data and define strategies.
The report highlights that constant notifications are one of the greatest distractions faced by these workers, as they make their tasks difficult and overshadow processes.
More than half of workers feel compelled to respond to notifications immediately and more than a third feel overwhelmed by constant alerts.
Notifications are especially annoying because they interrupt the clarity and focus they need to perform their tasks properly.
Forty-eight per cent of respondents think that notifications could be limited if more efficient and productive meetings were organized, while 45 per cent thought that having clearly defined responsibilities would have the same effect.
When each task has a clearly established responsible, context and deadline, work is done faster and with fewer back and forth.
Both generation Y (Millennials) and generation Z are the most likely to feel the negative effects of notifications, as highlighted in the report.
To resolve this situation, the statement emphasized that employees must be allowed to use the “Do Not Disturb” mode so that they can suspend notifications for certain times or allow them to set aside blocks of time on the calendar to focus on work.
Too many applications
Employees have a large number of tools and technologies at their disposal, which seek to facilitate their tasks, but sometimes this has the opposite effect. Too many disconnected applications, that is, not linked to each other generate the opposite effect, since they make work difficult and slow down.
To deal with this, it is suggested to use technological integrations so that it is not necessary to duplicate tasks. And prior to this, it would be good to do an analysis to evaluate which tools are really important.
Sometimes it happens that, for example, several communication channels are used to say the same thing and this is an unnecessary waste of time.
More than half of the workers perform other types of tasks during meetings and only 43% actively participate in the virtual talks.
In addition, more than a quarter are more likely to miss certain tasks and updates this year compared to last year.
Too many meetings also have a negative impact on meeting deadlines. This is what 24% of interviewees assure. If there were fewer unnecessary virtual encounters, they would have more time to perform their tasks on time.
This is resolved by setting up meetings that are really necessary and important. In this sense, it is necessary to evaluate whether the meeting is necessary and also to verify well who to call in each case so that there are no people who are in a meeting where information that is not relevant to their tasks is shared.
Lack of boundaries between personal and work life
Remote work or in hybrid format that was enhanced as a result of the pandemic, brought about several changes, including the challenge of establishing a clear line between personal and working life. At first, the idea of the home office led many to work without schedules and with supposed flexibility that was presented as an advantage but ended up being available 24/7, which is nothing more than a subtle way to extend the working day without limits. Over time, work management improved, but in many cases the limits are still unclear.
To address this issue, the report suggests that companies provide employees with start and end times of their working day. And it is also noted that this slogan is also fulfilled by managers; that is, they also adhere to these limits to lead by example.
The syndrome of the impostor and exhaustion
42% of respondents acknowledged suffering from burnout and impostor syndrome. The latter refers to the feeling that some people have that the job success they have does not correspond to them, that they are not up to the task, that they do not deserve it.
“Lack of clarity, over-notification and lengthy meetings have real consequences that are not only annoying, but directly contributing to these occupational risks. In particular, burnout and imposter syndrome disproportionately affect younger employees, leading to low morale, lack of communication, lack of commitment at work, more mistakes and even a lot of wear and tear. Almost one in four workers experience mental exhaustion four or more times a year, while 40% believe it is an inevitable part of success,” the report highlights.
This is why it is recommended that companies generate structural changes to reduce repetitive tasks, avoid constant distractions, and establish clear workflows and schedules for employees. In particular, it is emphasized to establish breaks in the 3 M framework
What is the 3M framework for setting breaks
The 3M framework involves taking three types of breaks: macro, meso and micro (long, intermediate and short), to completely disconnect from work stress and recover your energy. Something that is vital to achieve better performance in tasks. Rest, rather than being seen as wasted time, should be interpreted as an investment that will result in benefits for workers and therefore for companies.
“Disconnecting means communicating to the brain that no matter the chaos around you, you're doing it right. Work is not the most important thing and you can choose to focus on something else entirely,” emphasizes Dr. Sahar Yousef, a specialist in Cognitive Neuroscience, in the published report. It also clarifies that these breaks should be done by employees of all hierarchies, including managers.
“To build a more supportive and enjoyable workplace, it is necessary to recognize the prevalence of burnout and impostor syndrome, and confront them. To make all employees feel happier and more engaged at work, companies must help them visualize the big picture to understand how their work is a valuable part of the whole,” the report concludes.