When the pressure is on and we need to get more done, we tend to simply work longer hours and attempt to multitask. Although this may get you some short-term wins initially, over the longer term it isn’t sustainable. Pretty soon it becomes a way of life leading to high levels of stress and eventual burnout.
Productivity is a measure of how much you can accomplish, not how busy you are. ‘Old school’ ideas around productivity are no longer enough to increase profits. Who was taught to work harder? I know I was! Work harder and get a better HSC mark, and keep working harder to get a better graduate position, and keep working harder to get that promotion etc. That’s how we were taught, because 20 years ago we didn’t have the neuroscience to say that might not be the smartest way of doing things.
‘Face time’ vs. productivity
The thought was if you’re not at your desk you are not being productive. There are still people out there who think time at your desk equals productivity. It’s far better to learn how to work with your natural pace and energy, which will increase your productivity and help you find extra time to do other things, rather than simply showing up for the sake of it. You can still be highly productive without being chained to the desk. And in actual fact being chained to the desk, now that we know how the brain functions, is probably detracting from your productivity.
So what can you do about it?
Here are some quick, easily implementable tips to improve your productivity:
- If it’s important, make it a priority. Schedule time to focus on the task, and stick to your schedule – you wouldn’t miss a meeting booked with a client, don’t skip out on your scheduled time.
- Focus on one thing at a time – multi-tasking is unproductive. Give your 100% focus to one task at a time and then move on.
- Preparation is key. Pre-prepare anything that can be done beforehand – prep meals so you can grab and run, pre-read notes/reading material and highlight areas of interest/questions, schedule time to rehearse/practice/run over plans etc.
- Move. Take a break – as they say, sitting is the new smoking. Move hourly, whether it is a walk around the office floor or around the block. A short 10min brisk walk stimulates the brain and regenerates the body with oxygen.
- To Do lists rule! If a task needs to be done, don’t just write it down on a list – add it to your calendar. Schedule the time to complete it, do it and then tick it off.
- Delegate. What really needs your attention, and what are you just holding onto because you think no one else can do it? Think outside the square, there are such things as robotic vacuums … what else are we wasting energy on?
- Night owls can be just as productive as early birds – identify your energy cycles and use it to plan your days for ultimate productivity.
- Slow down to speed up. Just like multi-tasking is distracting, racing through tasks can be just as unproductive and sometimes detrimental to the overall outcome.
- Daily routines. Just as a good morning routine will set the tone and purpose for your day, a good nightly routine will help ensure the success of the oncoming day
Weak minds focus on quantity. Strong minds focus on quality and intensity.