A recent survey found that e-mail, interruptions, and bad meetings are wasting huge amounts of workers time. Well duh. Here's the numbers, from time spent in 2000 to 2004:
E-mail: 4 hours per week in 2000, 8.8 hours per week in 2004
Snail mail: 2 hours per week in 2000 to 1.3 hours per week in 2004
Ineffective meetings: 2000 of 0.7 hours a week, 2.1 hours per person per week in 2004.
Interruptions: 3.3 hours per week in 2000 to 4.5 hours in 2004
Working overtime: 4.9 hours per week in 2000 to 6.4 hours in 2004
Delegating work: 3.3 hours per week in 2000 to 3.5 hours per week in 2004
So, we're spending a lot more time on e-mail, bad meetings, interruptions, and delegating work, and less on snail mail. No wonder we're working more overtime!
While I should say my biggest productivity drain is e-mail, since I spend so much time on listservs in addition to the regular influx of messages and spam, the contacts, information, and resources I get this way make this time well spent. Ditto for the hours I spend each night going through my RSS feeds and reading blogs and news resources from all over the place. I spend very little time on snail mail anymore, and as a telecommuter, interruptions usually are when my dogs start barking hysterically because a leaf fell. Meetings are only once weekly, and are generally pretty productive, and I only wish I had someone to delegate work to on some days.
The problem with this survey is that it measures productivity losses based solely on time spent dealing with this stuff. While time wasted obviously isn't good, for me, the biggest productivity busters are more psychic energy drains than anything else. You know, when you can't get anything done because you're fuming over unreasonable demands, other people not doing their part so you can do yours, that kind of thing (which thankfully happens very seldom in my job). Next to that, deleting spam is nothing.
Enough about me: What's your biggest productivity killer?
(For some interesting discussion on this survey, check out Tom Smith's Information Week blog.)