This is a situation I've seen at many of the companies I've consulted for: a lot of stuff gets moved around, emailed, minuted, and checked off, but there's very little accomplished.
To understand this, let me tell you a story:
Pretend I'm a manager, and I walk into my office full of bright, eager employees and announce we're going to build a bridge. They all set off right away to put in 10-hour days with smiles on their faces, merrily getting ready to make the best bridge they can build.
Can you think of a more productive, ideal workplace? Everyone's happy and working hard.
There's just one problem: no one knows what kind of bridge we're building. One person's working on a little stone arch, and another's designing the next Golden Gate. We all have different ideas of how wide and long and high to make it, using what materials, and even whether to make an arch or suspension bridge or something else.
There's a crucial question that hasn't been answered: what are we trying to accomplish?
I've found that a lot of problems are solved by asking this simple question. Having a shared, clearly-defined idea of where to head (not to mention how to get there) prevents a lot of wasted time and effort, and also creates a shared sense of purpose and camaraderie.
This is for you personally as well. If you don't have a clear idea of what you're aiming for, you'll have a hard time trying to hit it.
So, do you and your team know what you're doing?
P.S. eProductivity was designed to nurture this kind of thinking. For example, when you create a new Project, eProductivity asks you, "What's the successful outcome? Describe as if already done; what would that look like?" This is meant to encourage you to think in terms of what will be true once you've done this thing. This approach helps keep you focused; plus, it automatically gets your brain thinking about how to achieve that outcome.
Multitasking is not working smarter -- just the opposite, in fact. This a quick, colorful infographic from Visual.ly and Fuze shows how multitasking actually slows you down and even decreases your IQ!
Click here to view.