May 17, 2010
Today, OptaVista announced the availability of OptaWorks software, a new concept in time management. OptaWorks enables knowledge workers to proactively reduce desktop distractions.
“Today’s employees are barraged with countless desktop distractions,” said Robert Kapela, founder of OptaVista. “They deal with a constant stream of Tweets and instant messages throughout the day. And, then there’s the temptation to browse social networks and other personal Web sites. Many staff members also have inefficient work habits, like checking e-mail each time an alert appears. These interruptions are hindering efficiency, forcing many to extend their work hours into personal time.”
OptaWorks software empowers employees to proactively manage desktop distractions, improve work/life balance, and increase productivity. Employees can recapture their time by understanding how their work hours are spent, reducing desktop distractions, and reinforcing positive work habits.
View the complete OptaVista press release or visit www.optavista.com to request your own trial version of the software now.
May 11, 2010
Industry experts Jonathan Spira and Nathan Zeldes will be presenting a 1-hour Webinar discussion about the impact of information overload within your organization. This free event, sponsored by OptaVista, will take place on Thursday, May 13th at 9:00 a.m. Pacific. Register today.
During the event, you’ll learn:
The cost of information overload for companies,
How successful companies are overcoming information overload,
How you can measure the impact of information overload and empower employees to take action using OptaWorks software.
You don’t want to miss this event! Register today to secure your space. All attendees will also receive a complimentary copy of the Basex report, “Information Overload: We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us,” as well as access to free trial licenses of OptaWorks software.
April 28, 2010
Today’s post is provided by guest blogger Nathan Zeldes, a thought leader on the topic of information overload and organizational change. Nathan will also be presenting at our upcoming Webinar: “Control Information Overload within Your Organization.”
Flickr photo by j3net
Imagine a Victorian coal mine undergoing inspection by its owner. The guy gets off his carriage, and notes that all the miners are sitting around chatting, playing cards, or dozing off. On inquiring with the foreman, he is informed that his employees at this mine have a habit of taking every Tuesday off; or rather, they show up for work but simply waste the time without any coal being excavated. You can imagine his reaction… surely he’s take immediate and assertive action, to put it mildly.
And yet today this is precisely what happens in practically every knowledge-intensive organization. People waste about one day a week (estimates vary between 20% and 28% of the time) on the effects of information overload. While managing computing productivity as a principal engineer at Intel, the surveys I ran showed how this happens: employees wasted 2 hours a week dealing with useless email messages (as opposed to the useful ones – they spent 18 additional hours on those); and 6 hours went to the impact of the incessant interruptions caused by events like ringing telephones, PDA alerts, and incoming mail notifications.
So, employees are wasting a day per week at full pay, and – I never cease to be amazed – few companies take “immediate and assertive action” to put a stop to it.
There are two differences, however, between the 19th century and the 21st century scenarios described above:
- The former is entirely imaginary (nobody in 19th century Britain would have dreamed of such an outrageous behavior). The latter is very real and ubiquitous in our “age of the Blackberry.”
- In the mine scenario, imaginary or not, the harm of not working would go to the employer; the workers, at least, would enjoy the time off. In today’s enterprise, the wasted day harms the employer through lost productive output, but it also harms the employees. These are caught in a stressful rat race against their overflowing Inbox, and pay a high price by having to work evenings and weekends to make up for the time consumed by all the inefficiency.
This is an interesting historical shift. On the one hand, people’s ability to not be productive has been enhanced by the abundant distractions and overload of the very information channels that are central to our knowledge economy. On the other, the once firm attitude that time waste is a bad thing has been watered down to the point that most companies take no action against the information overload that is wreaking havoc on their people’s effectiveness at work. Meanwhile the affected knowledge workers – that’s us – suffer the loss of job satisfaction and quality of life that a job well (and efficiently) done can confer. Something has got to change…
Nathan Zeldes helps people and organizations reduce Information Overload, a subject he blogs about at http://information-overload.nzeldes.com/blog/.
April 26, 2010
As I have dug deeper into different productivity philosophies and programs, I have repeatedly come across this quote:
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” — Mark Twain
It can be very easy to get bogged down in the details of everyday life, tending to unproductive items or accomplishing smaller tasks rather than attacking important or strategic projects can seem like the best course of action. However, cutting through the din of unproductive distractions can be a crucial step to becoming more productive and slaying some of the “frogs” that we have been avoiding day after day.
With the dawn of a new week, I have taken a moment to step back to assess my project and business-related goals. It can often be overwhelming to think about all of the things that need to be accomplished, but simply writing down a task list has helped me identify my “frogs” and I can begin to formulate a plan of action. One of the ways that I assess my productivity during the work day is to cross items off of my checklist.
Sometimes, though, my checklist is lengthy and I get discouraged by the items that are left unchecked. This is where I have found the time management features of OptaWorks to be especially helpful — I get a graphical view of my activities and I can quickly assess my productivity. I may not have checked all of the items off of my daily “to do” list, but in looking at OptaWorks, I can see that I spent the bulk of my day working on productive activities, or that my productivity score has risen since the day before. What a great personal motivator!
What motivates you to measure your output and keep your productivity up throughout the work week? What are your personal “frogs,” and how can you turn them into productive highlights in your day?
April 20, 2010
You are cordially invited to join industry experts Jonathan Spira and Nathan Zeldes for a 1-hour interactive Webinar discussion covering the impact of information overload within your organization. The event will take place on Thursday, May 13th at 9:00 a.m. Pacific. Register today.
During this Webinar, you’ll learn:
- The cost of information overload for companies,
- How successful companies are overcoming information overload,
- How you can measure the impact of information overload and empower employees to take action using OptaWorks software.
If you’re a manager, you won’t want to miss this event! Register today to secure your space. All attendees will also receive a complimentary copy of the Basex report, “Information Overload: We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us,” as well as access to free trial licenses of OptaWorks software.
Meet the Presenters
Jonathan B. Spira, CEO and Chief Analyst, founded Basex in 1983. He is the author of a soon-to-be-published book on Information Overload (John Wiley & Sons) and of Managing the Knowledge Workforce: Understanding the Information Revolution That’s Changing the Business World (Mercury Business Press, September 2005). Mr. Spira is recognized as one of the technology industry’s leading thinkers and pundits, having pioneered the study of knowledge workers and how information technology affects them. He is a founding board member of the Information Overload Research Group, an industry consortium, a widely published author and acclaimed speaker who makes frequent appearances speaking on the future of technology and has authored hundreds of papers on technology issues. He is the co-author of The History of Photography (Aperture, November 2001), which was named a best book of the year by the New York Times, and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He conducted graduate-level research at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (Munich).
Nathan Zeldes, a physicist morphed into an organizational change agent, is recognized as a global thought leader in the search for improved knowledge worker productivity. Having enjoyed a long career as a manager and engineer at Intel, he now helps organizations to solve core problems at the intersection of technology and human behavior. Nathan has been working on information overload for 15 years, during which he’s developed and deployed original solutions at Intel and other companies. He’s exchanged knowledge and solutions with scores of organizations worldwide, and is a founder and the current president of the Information Overload Research Group. Learn more at http://www.nzeldes.com.
March 15, 2010
Today, I’m pleased to report that we have given our Web site a make-over. Visit our home page for a high-level overview of our time management and productivity software solution. Or take a look at the features page for product details, and the how it works page to learn more about the technology behind OptaWorks software.
We hope that you’ll find the site to be a useful resource for learning more about OptaWorks software, and for understanding how we can help you reduce desktop distractions and break unproductive work habits.
February 19, 2010
In the United States, there has been quite a bit of press around distracted driving. Oprah has even started the “No Phone Zone” campaign, advocating that people concentrate on driving instead of multi-tasking and talking or texting on cell phones while behind the wheel. This is another sign of how our culture has evolved to accept distractions and multi-tasking as a sign of productivity. We are overloaded with information on a daily basis; business is being conducted on cell phones and laptops all around us, and the lines between work and life have continued to blur.
We know that distracted driving has a high price, but what are the costs of distractions at work? Basex, a leading knowledge economy research firm, estimates that information overload costs the U.S. economy at least $900 billion per year in lowered employee productivity and reduced innovation. Studies have shown that it takes up to 15 minutes for a worker to recover from an interruption; whether it is an unexpected telephone call or the pull of personal e-mail, the time can really add up!
Give yourself freedom to focus. Like Oprah’s “No Phone Zone” pledge, I have committed myself to be more productive during my work day, reducing desktop distractions and eliminating multi-tasking habits where I can. I have found it quite freeing to give myself permission to disconnect so that I can concentrate on important projects and tasks. Closing the door to my office and shutting down my e-mail application for a set period of time has allowed me the freedom to focus on writing and other thought-intensive tasks.
Setting the focus time feature on OptaWorks software is another way to reduce distractions – prompting you to stick to activities that you deem to be productive, and to think twice before you take a “mini mental break” on an unproductive Web site or application.
What are you doing to reduce desktop distractions? What tips or tricks have you implemented to streamline your work day and improve your productivity?