Reduce stress/Increase Your Productivity:

5 (surprising?) ways to be more productive!

Most of the conversation about wellbeing is focused on how you can increase your well-being through some kind of stress management program whether it’s a meditation/ mindfulness program, a vacation, personal or corporate wellness/exercise programs to reduce the symptoms of stress. While it’s critical to address and manage the symptoms of stress, if you only address the symptoms of Workplace stress but not the causes, there’s a good chance you’re going to be relapsing every time you come back to that stressful environment. Increasing productivity can give you more time in your day and you’ll feel less stressed!

Work/Leadership style is a surprising but potent area to examine. There are things you may be doing in your work/leadership style that are impacting your productivity and effectiveness. Are you a perfectionist, redoing and reworking ad infinitum? Are you holding onto projects rather than delegating? Do you feel it’s just faster to tell your associates “do it this way” rather than spending the time to train/coach them to become more self sufficient (the “Directive Boss”)? You’d be surprised at how much time these efforts take. By way of example, I have a client who felt overwhelmed and stressed out. Examining her day, she found that she was spending 2 to 3 hours a day being a “Directive Boss”.  So the question is how does this impact her?: Take those 2 hours/day and in a week, that’s 10 hours (2 hr/day X 5 days), or 40 hours in a month! Over a year (40 hrs x 12) that equal 480 hours and based on an 8 hour day, that’s 60 days / 2 months of your work year! Imagine what your personal and professional life could look like if you had just half that time back – 30 days! 

Prioritization is about how you’re managing your work from a time/energy perspective. Take a look at your work and see if it falls into any of these following 5 areas and ask yourself: How much energy are you allocating to things that are not the most productive use of your time?  Are there projects, responsibilities, and/or meetings/calls for which (1) your participation may not be essential? (2) you may not need to handle? (3) are not priorities? (4) are causing you a high degree of stress but not a lot of results? or (5) may be delegated to an associate/direct report/peer?  Brendon Burchard in his bestselling book “High Performance Habits” has an entire chapter on what he calls “Raise Necessity” – and explains why we should focus our attention on things that have a real deadline, not what he describes as “a poorly conceived activity with a due date that is someone’s preference not true need with real consequences if not met” (Page 149)

Multitasking: Another surprising find is that multitasking can have a Multitasking can have a negative impact on productivity. We’re actually not as effective and are not able to do as quality work. You can be up to 40% less effective! Pay attention to the task at hand, focusing on completing the project/email etc. before switching to something else and minimize distractions.  Sounds simple, right? So, how often are you speaking to someone AND responding to emails? How often are you dipping into multiple projects simultaneously and don’t have time to be as detailed or careful as you’d like? Better to increase the quality of your output in the first pass rather than having to redo or regret that error!

Taking breaks & Going to lunch: I bet if you’re super busy, you’re saying you don’t have time! Believe it nor not, studies show that taking a breaks during the day can actually improve your performance and boost your productivity! Noted in a Fast Company Article, the Draugiem Group, a social networking company, using the time-tracking productivity app DeskTime, found that the “10% of employees with the highest productivity surprisingly didn’t put in longer hours than anyone else. In fact, they didn’t even work full eight-hour days. What they did do was take regular breaks. Specifically, they took 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work. Employees with the highest levels of productivity worked for 52 minutes with intense purpose, then rested up, allowing their brains time to rejuvenate and prepare for the next work period.“

Jennifer Deal, Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership and Affiliated Research Scientist at the Center for Effective Organizations at University of Southern California (USC) notes that “In reality, taking time away for a lunch break can help to reduce stress, increase engagement, and restore energy levels, making employees feel more effective and productive back at the office.” 

From neuroscience perspective, taking a break even if it’s a 5 minute walk around the office or taking some deep breaths will allow your body to clear out some of the clutter in the brain and reduce stress. What seems to take away time from your work actually gives you greater productivity and, you may have insights, find solutions and answers to problems that you were struggling with before the break! 

Avoiding Distractions: how much time are you sneaking in on social media reading tweets, FB, LinkedIn, Snap, Instagram or fitting in just one (two, three) quick videos or video games? Take note of how much you may be resorting to distractions and take a that 5 mins break away from your desk instead.

Increasing your productivity may necessitate doing a deep dive into your work, your workload and your work habits to determine whether or not there is additional time in your week! Remember, even getting an hour back a day can have a huge impact!

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