With the world moving at an ever more furious pace, efficiency is fast becoming one of enterprise’s most sought-after currencies. In today’s volatile economy, results are everything, and employees are being pushed harder than ever to deliver – in many cases with fewer resources than they might have enjoyed a decade ago.
As a result, this generation of workers is one unfamiliar with the concept of a lunch break, and one for which overtime is simply a way of life. After all, the harder you work, the more you achieve. Right?
Turns out things might not be quite so cut and dried. Countless studies have shown that longer hours don’t necessarily equate to increased productivity, leading instead to lengthy procrastination sessions (hence the popularity of cat videos on YouTube) and widespread burn-out. You see, whilst we humans are undeniably resilient creatures, there is a limit to how much information we can process in one day, no matter how much we will it to be otherwise.
Studies suggest that most of us enjoy ebbs and flows of energy, with the vast majority peaking between the hours of 10am and 3pm. By and large, energy begins to decrease significantly from about 6pm, as the day’s mental wear and tear starts to take its toll.
In other words, that all-nighter you pulled last week probably wasn’t necessary, and that Caribbean holiday you passed up in favour of a 100-hour working week wouldn’t have had nearly the disastrous impact you thought it might.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that optimal efficiency can be achieved by working smarter, rather than harder. Yep, you can achieve the impressive results you seek simply by employing a few simple productivity tips, and still be home in time for dinner.
Here’s how to get your year off to a more efficient start:
BREAK IT UP
Despite what you may have been told, there’s always time for a tea break. Whilst we might have been conditioned to frown upon those co-workers who regularly convene for a chat and a cuppa, it turns out they might be onto something. Regular breaks can have an enormously positive impact on productivity, with studies revealing that a single interlude can improve mental acuity by up to 13%, with consistent breaks every ten minutes or so reducing fatigue by approximately 50%. So don’t be afraid to indulge in a leisurely lunch or a hearty Facebook trawl every now and then – the results will speak for themselves.
Got approximately 472 things on your to-do list, 5,613 unread emails and a client hell-bent on making your life a living nightmare? Of course you do. Yet somehow, the only thing you’re able to complete is an admittedly riveting game of Candy Crush. A daunting list of deadlines is the ultimate antidote to productivity, as we’re unable to settle down and complete any individual task with an appropriate degree of focus. As such, a more ruthless approach is required. If you want to be at the top of your game, set yourself no more than 5 major tasks to complete each day, assigning priority to a single item that requires urgent completion ahead of the others. By dialling out the unnecessary noise and completely tuning yourself in to the task at hand, you’ll find yourself whipping through that to-do list in no time.
CLOSE YOUR DOOR
Distractions in the workplace are inevitable, but by keeping them to a minimum you’ll greatly improve your chances of maximising your output. So make sure you’re unavailable for at least two hours each day – switch off your email, turn your phone to silent and find a quiet corner devoid of noise and chatter. During this time you’ll be able to work without the constant ping of emails, the relentless demands of clients and the incessant chatter of colleagues, simply ploughing through work instead. Difficult as it might be to believe, the world will not cease to revolve as a result of your 120-minute absence, and as your clients and colleagues will be the ultimate beneficiaries of your increased productivity, you needn’t feel bad about making them wait.