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What is your biggest productivity killer?

What kills your productivity the most? Noisy coworkers, frequent interruptions, lack of resources, personal issues, or something else? Let us know by taking this poll.

Even the least expensive developers are quite expensive to keep on staff. And yet, it often seems like the world conspires to keep us from productively working a full 40 hours, even when we spend 60 hours at the office.

Productivity killers can come from a variety of sources. Sometimes it is personal issues, like the spouse who calls 35 times a day. Or maybe it is problems at the workplace itself, such as coworkers who can't keep the noise down. Frequent interruptions are another major time waster. It's also hard to do our jobs efficiently when we lack the necessary tools. Or maybe it's something else entirely that keeps you from being your most productive.

J.Ja

Disclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine. He also has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides.

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About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

21 comments
bigvalleyelectronic
bigvalleyelectronic

I am the CEO of Big Valley Electronics Repair in Van Nuys, CA. We recently opened shop to the public on 2/2/09. Undoubtedly, our productivity has slowed down due to the economic recession the nation is suffering. Additionally, we're experiencing difficulties due to our inadequate ability to advertise. For example, in the city of Van Nuys there is a banner ordinance along the boulevard we are located which taxes the business to the sum of $800 per year to fly a banner outside the bldg. We were unaware of this fee when we opened. The cost of distributing flyers is quite high and the cost of internet advertising is enormous. So, along with the economic depression, the lack of advertising and the cost thereof is definitely hindering our productivity.

don.gulledge
don.gulledge

It would be nice to be a mole and never have to be bothered by our environment, moving along in our tunnels working and happy to be alone. However, the real world is quite opposite. Since the old days, beaurcratic process and people have creeped into the mix and now, every development, every program is frought with this plaque. Before, these types left it to you to do the thinking and make the decisions. Nowadays, they think they should be making them even though they don't have a clue. People today are afraid of progress, sharing their knowledge to the programmer. They hoard it and keep it from being exposed because it's job security and their insecurity drives the workplace today. The days of a sane working environment are over. Now, all that is left is meetings, rehashes, recriminations, finger pointing, and shallow thinkers doing the decisions. We're armed with less and yet, carry a higher burden of the blame when there's problems. We're now CYA for the beauracrats. Just my opinion.

KSoniat
KSoniat

I used to work 6:30 AM to 3:30 PM to give more IT coverage at a start-up company. Those hours before 8 AM when everyone else came in were so productive!!

jslarochelle
jslarochelle

It is just incredible the negative impact on productivity. There is this paradox that when the project is in trouble managers start irrupting more and more into my cubicle (yes I work in one of those...) "trying to help" and just make things worst. I get more things done when I come in to work late and stay late (we have a flexible work schedule). Most of the hysterical types (managers?) come in early so I go for longer periods without them (less interruptions) if I do that. Useless meetings are also a big nuisance but we (where I work) are getting better at managing this. If I feel I'm wasting my time I just stand up and politely request to leave. The other productivity killer is really incomplete upstream artefacts (requirements being the main one). This is also getting better but we still have a lot of improvements to do. JS

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

Why does it seem that the busier I am the more meetings I need to attend?

Justin James
Justin James

For me, the interruptions drive me nuts...it astounds me how people will call me direct on my cell phone for the most trivial questions that could have been sent via email, or just assume that I sit around waiting to be thrown into a 2 hour conference call. J.Ja

HanksComputer
HanksComputer

don.gulledge@... Listed my first big waste of time item: ?People today are afraid of progress, sharing their knowledge to the programmer. They hoard it and keep it from being exposed because it's job security and their insecurity drives the workplace today.? I agree with his statement but there is more to it than that. The real killers love to be the center of attention when the project is in the implantation stage. They come out with a few of the things IT missed during the investigative stage of the project. The fact they are responsible for the area or just withheld the information by not providing any indication the process was a show stopper. They simply throw up their hands and say IT designed the system not me and walk away washing their hands of the problem. The second are the people that either play or watch sports at ANY level. The first one in the morning waits for the second to rehash the day before sport, then the next person comes in and it starts all over again. This process is repeated with every person coming in the morning. Now don?t get me wrong I love sport but this takes it too far.

JimInPA
JimInPA

and the worst part for me is there are 2 sometimes 3 meeting a week that I attend to rehash the same thing for a different group. I have 8 hours of recurring meetings a week plus what ever other meetings they decide to throw in there because someone is bored...

JMT77
JMT77

Yup. And please note that this is not only the interruptions from the receptionist who doesn't know how to set the zoom factor on the copier machine. It includes the sales director whose secretary is on leave and now she is unable to draw the MS Access reports for her sales meeting. It also includes my IS manager who is actually a qualified bookkeeper *sigh* and insists on 3 hour meetings, since this is how long it takes him to understand the concept of bridging tables *SIGH squared*... and yes, I am actually supposed to be a developer/programmer!!!

Kam Guerra
Kam Guerra

Since I sit closest to the copier management decided I should fix it/fill it with paper routinely. I sit closest to the door of the semi-secured area (it's cleared) so I get to answer it and escort whoever "needs" in. The area security guard likes my 1/2 cube management has decided that I've got to vacate it by 4pm so he has a place to sit.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

I get interrupted constantly, even when I am on the phone or tell people to send an email and I will get back to them. Usually they will continue to interrupt until I listen to their problem and then tell them to send me an email. Of course, most of them will fail to send me the email, and then remind me to get to them while on my way to work on someone elses issues -- lol

GSG
GSG

Currently, my biggest productivity killer is the vendor that has been nagging about doing this backload for a go-live of a new system Sunday night. We've had hours and hours and hours of meeting for the last 3 weeks where they've been going over lists that are 600 lines long, and had them nagging over and over that we had to be ready to do this backload today. Well, guess what? We're ready. They aren't as they "forgot" to do 20 or so line items on their list. So, even though I was supposed to be leaving right now, I have to stay until they are ready and finished. So why did we have all of these meetings just for them to not be ready? Oh, and they insisted that it be done on a Friday. I wanted Thursday in case something happened. No they said... we've done this hundreds of times, it's easy! Jerks

Saurondor
Saurondor

are a means to disorganization. Why let you know ahead of time if I can just email it when I need it. Or better yet ring you on the cellphone ;) I do most of my programming at night. Its all real nice an quiet.

Geek3001
Geek3001

It works both ways though. I've found a lot of useful info on TR that has saved a lot of time and effort.

Justin James
Justin James

... because when things are behind, everyone is demanding a status update. :) J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

Every time I hear you talk about your job, I wonder how you put up with it. It truly sounds like the worst place in the world to work! J.Ja

santeewelding
santeewelding

I'm still trying to figure it out. Has to do, I think, with executive function, which we all exercise. Translation: getting your head on straight in order to greet the world, then checking back again and again to make sure it's still straight. Like looking into an interactive mirror. Now, I simply must get to work and greet the world...

Refurbished
Refurbished

I had this problem with status reports with one release that was going badly. It seemed I did nothing else. The next release I clearly stated in the initial document that status reports would be issued twice a week at specific times (days of week and time given). Additional e-mails would be sent if a milestone was reached or a major problem was encountered. Then, I made sure I followed through. It worked beautifully. Everyone was up-to-date and I could get other work done.

Kam Guerra
Kam Guerra

I put up with that environment for 3 long years. During the whole dotcom boom of the 90's I was military and saw all the goodies those guys got. I get out and the market busts. I worked for one of the largest defense contractors for 3 years - and have stories to last at least twice that long. It's a working business model I'm sure most companies follow.

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