For many of us, work is a major part of our lives. Whether you are employed or own your own business, work is where we spend a great deal of our time. It isn’t surprising then, that having a fulfilling job can be beneficial for your mental health and general wellbeing and according to a study by the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, there is a direct correlation between wellness and job performance.
So it’s in our best interests to ensure we keep things balanced, don’t over work, stress ourselves out and negatively impact our productivity. Here are some ways to stay productive which may surprise you:
Stop working overtime
It may seem logical that the longer you work, the more you get done, but people who work longer report sleeping less, which causes fatigue and, in turn, can have an enormous impact on your health, often leading to our becoming less productive. So limiting the time you spend at work may mean you actually get more done.
It is also important to remember to allow yourself breaks throughout the workday. Without breaks your brain will become fatigued and your productivity will slow down.
“Improved productivity means less human sweat, not more”. Henry Ford
Practice saying ‘No’
Many people tend to use books or apps to try and gain greater productivity. Although this may help, it is more effective to alter small behaviours for long-term productivity gains. For example, saying ‘no’ more often to tasks enables you to become more efficient and therefore more productive. Studies have shown it is significantly more beneficial to complete 5 tasks to a high standard rather than 10 to a low standard.
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything”. Warren Buffett.
The seemingly simple act of stopping thinking about one thing and switching to another can have a surprising impact on your productivity. Studies have uncovered evidence of mental lags created when we try to multitask which can cost as much as 40% of our productivity.
Because it’s not as time efficient to work on multiple tasks at any one time, learning to prioritise your workload can help you focus on what matters most. You should also try and uncover the biggest obstacles in your productivity flow and remove them, such as constantly checking email or social media.
“Most of the work on multitasking suggests that it generally makes you less efficient, not more”. James Surowiecki
A study by the Leeds Metropolitan University looked into the effects of exercise and found that workers reported being more productive, time efficient and overall felt considerably more satisfied if they exercised. The American Psychological Association found that employees were 15% more productive on days where they exercise before work. The study also found that physically active employees were less likely to develop job burnout and depression.
So instead of regarding exercise as something dispensable if you’re busy, it’s important to remember it will positively impact how you work, so make sure you weave it into your daily routine.
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity”. John F. Kennedy
Ironically, the very tools designed to help us share knowledge and aid workflow such as email and the internet can actually interrupt us and impact our productivity. A task that should take an hour can often double when we mindlessly check our email, get distracted by the internet or lose time to social media. These interruptions can break the ‘flow’ state of mind that productivity requires.
Try turning your email notifications off and resist checking your phone when you are focussed on a task. Block time in your diary to certain tasks and aim to stay focussed on that one thing until it’s completed.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. Mark Twain
The Mental Health Foundation
American Psychological Association
Harvard Business Review