Combating The Barriers To Productivity

I haven’t written anything in a while, and luckily for me I happened to be in a situation that allows me to make some observations.

I recently noticed there was a confusion happening near me, and whilst all involved where busy and running around and things where flying everywhere……needless to say, there was no real production happening.

Now, when working, we don’t always have a confusion so big that it literally consumes every waking minute we have. However we do at times feel overwhelmed, confused and like “we are very busy, but we not getting the product we want”. Sometimes it’s just a matter of added extra work which we don’t need.

Below I outline some common barriers we face without sometimes realizing it.


This is a tricky one. You give someone an order to hire an electrician to install a generator and a switch for the company. When checking on this a week later, you get an “I’ve nearly hired someone”. Now some supervisors and managers will take this and think that the order was complied with. Orders given are to be DONE, not to be nearly done or almost done. When you don’t insist on getting a “done” on an order, you are basically opening the door to things being half done.


People being people, one can be “reasonable” and allow reasons why things are not completed or why it’s impossible to do certain things. This, in the short and long run, results in more work. You are an assistant to the director. You have an assistant who helps you. You ask her to ensure that water has been ordered for the director so he has a bottle on his table every morning. An hour later she comes back to you to tell you that she can’t find a company that will deliver the water this week, they will only start next week. You let her go, and you are leaving yourself with extra work, as now you have to find water for this week, whereas she ought to have been the one to do that. (true story)


You may at times give someone an order, only for them to go do the opposite or do it, but not all of it. This can stem from a simple thing as them not understanding the actual order itself.

You may think that giving someone a cup of coffee and telling him to give it to the CEO is simple. I did this once only to find the person 3 minutes later still holding the cup. Upon enquiry I found she had a confusion on whether to give it to his assistant or to him directly.


Unanswered communication can easily make for double work. You have a situation where you sent an email requesting certain data. You don’t get a response, so by mid-day you have to send another one. This causes extra work for both ends of the communication. This is also the case when someone send you an email about something then they call you about it, to see if you have received the email. This can be necessary, but seldom is.


This is common and ties a bit in with the last one. You scan through your emails. You look at an item to be done, skip it, go to the next, and so on, until you find one you are comfortable doing. Later you go back to the same emails and you end up doing what is required of one you skipped earlier. The simplicity of this is: handle it when it gets to you and only refer it to someone else if it’s not your job. If it’s yours to do, don’t wait until later or tomorrow. By then you have other things to get done. It may seem easy to refer things or not do them when you get them, but they tend to come back and still have to be done by you.


I have seen a person being told to ensure that an item he had purchased had to be in the hands of a client no later than close of business the same day. The response was that the item would be received soon. Looking at this it was found that he had in actual fact organised for a courier company to deliver the item. The lack of data caused the supervisor, in the case, to have to recheck at a later point whether the parcel was being delivered or not, as he did not have the data regarding the couriers delivering it. When the parcel was delivered the person then failed to let the supervisor know that it had been done, which made the supervisor have to make a third trip about the same item. All this could have been avoided had pertinent data been relayed properly and anything else cast aside.

These are just a few things that I have observed that can cause extra unnecessary work and delays in one’s production. Make no mistake, the list can be extended and is in fact longer than this. Above is a summary of what I have observed.

Taking these into consideration can greatly lighten your workload.


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