The world of today is littered with anecdotes about how busy people’s lives have gotten. However, this ‘busyness’ has not been accompanied by a lot of productivity.
Productivity, which is a measure of efficient use of time in completing designated tasks, is taking a nosedive fast and is a process that usually begins in the mind.
This wane in productivity may not be unrelated to the influence the internet now wields on people. The constant connection to the internet usually starts out as a welcome distraction that easily spirals out of control.
There are other factors that contribute to this productivity problem. None of them however affects the mind in the way that distractions do by taking employees’ focus away from work with incessant notifications that are not reflected on timecards. A survey by CareerBuilder showed that phones and internet interactions constitute a whopping 55% of distraction to workers on an average workday.
Further worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, as people tend to stay online for longer nowadays, in order to stay connected to their loved ones. This just snowballs into a continuous internet surfing habit that is encouraged by the back and forth interactions that social media apps add to the mix, fueling a constant need for mental stimulation.
With application designers also constantly taking cues from psychologists who advise them on newer ways of keeping people constantly using their products (apps), it’s hard to escape the constant barrage of information that stands in the way of working productively.
People are encouraged to pay attention in short spurts, effectively making it harder for them to focus on single tasks over extended periods. This unwelcome side effect of a depleted dopamine supply that the brain needs to increase focus is impacting productivity.
Trying to escape that influence and keeping productivity levels high is however still achievable in the midst of the distractions. It just requires more intentional effort and these mental hacks will help keep you reasonably immune to these outside influences. Basically helping you get more done in less time, keeping your workplace thriving in the face of this new reality.
- Practice Mindfulness
This is often the go-to formula prescribed to cure mental distractions but that’s only because it works! Mindfulness can be simply described as the ability to be more present and aware of the inner workings of the mind, helping to keep people more in control of its minute processes. This helps to filter out unproductive emotions that usually wear people down whilst detracting from their productive ventures.
Research, as indicated in this study, has shown that mindfulness through meditation greatly reduces mind-wandering in people and it also aided creative problem-solving in its participants, thus improving productivity greatly.
Mindfulness can quickly improve the quality of life of individuals even beyond the workplace, adding more value to the individual by freeing the mind of stressors that can come from work and even outside of it. This can be achieved through meditation and other ancient practices that are easily accessible with some research.
Emotions bear a big influence on the productivity of workers. This implies that negative emotions can easily derail productivity without the awareness that mindfulness provides. This can be quickly identified and rectified with mindfulness, having a monumentally positive effect on productivity.
- Prioritize Sleep
In the current work climate, where people are convinced that they can fit their bursting at the seams work schedules into a 24-hour day, sleep is usually forgone without much thought. This is usually done in the hopes of getting more work done, leaving the body to fare on a little amount of sleep over extended periods.
Surprisingly, this is an unusually widespread approach to increasing productivity even though there is no proof that it actually works. A Harvard study even goes further to claim that lack of sleep (insomnia) further detracts from the productivity of workers. This in addition to the risk that sleep deprivation poses to the overall health of people does not even make it a worthwhile venture.
Realistically, to maintain productivity at work, each person requires a minimum of 6-8 hours of sleep daily which will in turn boosts the quality of work done during working hours. This can be easily tracked with reduced amounts of errors and mistakes, improved memory and lower burnout risk that are huge boosts to productivity.
- Take Breaks
Taking breaks is one of the most important productivity hacks there is. Breaks can be described as a brief cessation of work. They are usually a great avenue to replenish on expended mental resources, consequently preventing stress and exhaustion. The importance of breaks can not be overstated and this is further proven by this study by Korpela et.al which observed the effects of lunch breaks on productivity.
Apart from replenishing used up resources, adequate breaks enable workers to pay attention at all times and keeps them alert to recognize changes at work, thereby increasing productivity.
Healthy workplaces are the ones where workers are kept happy and adequately motivated. Employee satisfaction is known to be high in organizations where breaks are encouraged and it’s not hard to understand why.
- Avoid Multitasking
Multitasking is the bane of any meaningful effort at productivity. Multitasking can be described as constant switching between two or more different tasks in a bid to get work done. Human brains are simply not designed to function that way. Even though it holds the promise of getting more work done, it prevents meaningful productivity due to the marked decrease in efficiency that usually accompanies it.
Even though multitaskers are usually convinced that they are getting productive work done, research has shown that people that are considered heavy multitaskers are not really as good at the balancing act as much as they imagine.
The scientifically gathered metrics that measure work done by workers definitely prove that multitasking is hardly ever as efficient as completing each task one after the other.
Boosting productivity at work is a process that harnesses value out of workers by efficiently managing available resources. Taking the suggestions above will help get this process started and give your organization the boost in productivity it needs.