Co-workers, meetings, and inefficiency: the big energy bandits in the workplace

The workplace is full of energy drains, even for people who work at home. You get caught up in the routine, and lo and behold, hours have passed — and you’ve expended precious energy without much return. If this sounds like your work life, maybe you ought to try a few of these prescriptions.

1. Speak up when you have too much on your plate.  If you’re overworked, you’ll eventually hit a point where your personal energy falls to nil and nothing gets done. Do what you can to streamline your work processes, negotiate deadline extensions, simplify your tasks, and delegate in order to get things done.

2. Be unavailable. That’s right. When someone says, “Do you have a minute?” it’s okay to say, “Not right now.” You don’t have to be rude or impolite, but you do have to be honest. Get over wanting to feel needed, or you’ll have no end of work.

3. Prepare to have a great meeting.  As vehicles for communication, meetings can be extremely valuable mechanisms for disseminating vision, crafting strategic plans, and developing responses to challenges and opportunities — so be ready for them. The productivity of any meeting starts before the meeting begins.

4. Create a meeting code of conduct. Chaotic, over-long meetings can leave you frustrated and with minimal energy. The next time you attend a meeting, request the opportunity to lead an exercise aimed at making the meeting more productive and less draining.

5. Schedule your interruptions. If your co-workers are constantly interrupting your flow of work, set up regular check-in times, or block out interruptible times when you can sit down and talk — and make yourself unavailable otherwise.

6. Challenge the status quo. If you find yourself following energy-wasting company rules you see no purpose for, ask why. The answer may simply be “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” If a policy’s senseless and you make enough fuss about it, you may be able to change things. 

7. Argue for the tools and equipment you need. There’s no reason you should have to make do with a shared printer down the hall. If you argue intelligently for the tools you require to be more productive, you just might get them.

8. Become more efficient and get things done faster.  Find ways to handle repetitive tasks more quickly, and look at how you can eliminate redundancy in your workplace. If you can lower your standards or take shortcuts without hurting your work quality — well, what are you waiting for?

Take a little time to figure out how to keep your typical distractions at bay, and prevent even minor disruptions and disturbances. If you want maintain your energy and get things done, learn to create situations that are suited to concentrated, focused work without interruptions. You can do this by eliminating your excuses, building barriers, creating preventive assertions, and challenging your own thinking.

© 2008 Laura Stack.  Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time™. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations.  Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces.  She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004).  Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M.  To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401.  Visit to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter.



  1. attemaPulge says:

    Super article=D Will definitely visit soon.

  2. Donovan M. Bailey says:

    I am in graduate school and am doing a research paper on ‘Leadership and its effect on productivity in the workplace’. I am looking for relevant case studies, can you recommend any?