As EHS professionals, you are typically responsible for optimizing the performance of your ergonomics programs. Commonly, ergonomics initiatives focus on managing musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk and implementing systems to minimize that risk. For some organizations, this may also include optimizing human performance, improving manufacturing productivity, enhancing product quality, and improving process stability.
A lot of time and effort goes into developing your program plans and goals with the intention of optimizing the physical performance of your people. However, some of you are probably being asked to deploy bigger plans and achieve better results with the same (or reduced) resources (people, time, and budget) in 2016.
So, how can you accomplish this? Here are two research-based tips to help you optimize your personal productivity and make it easier to for you to achieve your program goals:
- Focus on one activity at a time. As EHS professionals, you may have a broad range of responsibilities including safety, health, ergonomics, environmental, security, and others. It is difficult to focus attention on one activity at a time. You may routinely react to urgent matters and switch between your responsibilities minute by minute throughout the day. Unfortunately, between 75 and 85% of your time each day can be lost to inefficiency as a result of multi-tasking. Fifteen to 25% efficiency does not allow you to move projects forward. So, how can you become more efficient? Research shows that it is best to prioritize your list of daily activities and focus on only one activity at a time. Start a task and complete it. Avoid getting interrupted or distracted by someone else’s “urgent” matter. Sure, there are important matters that require immediate attention, but make sure they are in fact “urgent” and not merely someone else’s inefficiency becoming your problem or stress. Attend to the legitimate emergencies, but focus on only one activity at a time for most of your workday.
- Follow work-hour limits. It is common for EHS professionals to work long hours to complete their to-do lists. But, do you get more done by working long hours? Being busy does not translate into productivity. Research shows that working long hours—more than 8 hours a day and more than 5 days per week—does not correlate with more productivity. Your performance and quality of work is optimized during a 35- to 40-hour work week. Following these limits has many benefits: you get more done, you produce higher-quality work, you are happier, and you have time away from work to refocus and recharge. Working long hours has many disadvantages, including more stress and lower energy. But most importantly, working long hours is associated with poor decisions and more mistakes. These mistakes drain our energy and time. They also take a lot of effort to fix. In addition, overworked people are more distracted and distract others during work.
Give these two tips a try to optimize your personal productivity. It is in the best interest of your program plans and goals. We wish you all the best in 2016. May you meet or exceed all of your goals!