Have you ever felt that you’re working harder but accomplishing less? Join the club of millions around the world looking for simple ways to increase productivity. We list five tips below that will help you in both the short term and the long run.
Of course, it’s important to be productive on the job, especially when you have a lot of different tasks to accomplish. But it’s also easy to get sidetracked while working on something, or to feel so overwhelmed that you don’t end up accomplishing much.
If you often have a heavy work load, whether it’s in the office or at home, you can get more done just by stopping these bad habits. In fact, you need to stop doing these 5 things to increase productivity.
5 Tips to Increase Productivity
1. Stop Working Overtime
You’ve probably heard of Henry Ford. Yes, the Henry Ford, the industrialist and automobile manufacturer who revolutionized assembly-line production for the automobile. In 1926, he conducted experiments, finding that when the workday was decreased to 8 hours from 10, and the work week shortened to 5 days, then productivity increased. He created the 40-hour work week for better working conditions, to attract better workers away from his competitors for his automobile plant. Thus, the eight-hour, five-days-a-week work schedule that many of us abide by is still in use today.
So, as Ford found, the longer you work, the less productive and effective you will become. Research suggests that working long hours can damage your health, productivity, and put a strain on your family and home life. Longer hours most often do not result in more output. To truly be most productive, it’s important to get enough sleep, and not to overwork yourself.
2. Stop Being Afraid to Say “No”
Having too much on your plate can cause stress and decrease productivity. It can be difficult to tell a co-worker you can’t help on a project. Likewise, you may not be able to help out the neighbors on your day off. But for the sake of your own mental health, learning to say no is extremely important.
Many companies today expect their employees to do more work in less time. When someone wants to add to your workload, determine 1) how long you’ll need to finish quality work, and 2) how the extra task will affect your existing workload. Don’t just say yes because you feel bad, or because you feel like you need to. If you can’t perform the task without becoming stressed out or feeling like you need to work longer hours, kindly say no and ask if you can contribute at a later time, or in a different way. Keep your explanation short and simple.
3. Stop Trying to Do Everything Yourself
You may know the saying, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” In fact, you may even live by it. But the truth is, you can’t handle everything by yourself, all of the time. And really, who would want to? Sometimes you just need a little help, and that’s perfectly OK. Whether it’s at home or at work, asking others to help out with your workload can give you more time to focus on your most important tasks.
If you insist on doing all the work, research shows that having a friend with you while you work may help to increase productivity. In ADHD treatment, there is a method called a body double. A body double is someone who sits with a person with ADHD. People diagnosed with ADHD are often easily distracted. The body double helps the other person tackle tasks that might be difficult to complete alone. A friend sitting next to you while you clean out your closet or work on a DIY project might keep you company while still allowing you to handle things on your own.
4. Stop Being a Perfectionist
Dalhousie University Psychology Professor Dr. Simon Sherry conducted a study on how perfectionism relates to productivity, and he found that perfectionism can actually be a self-defeating behavior. Sherry discovered that professors who display a higher level of perfectionism are less likely to produce publications, garner citations or publish their research in high-impact journals. “We found that perfectionism trips us professors on the way to research productivity,” he explained. “The more perfectionist the professor, the less productive they are.”
While this study focused on college professors, the results can apply to many other circumstances. “Perfectionists tend to do things perfectly — or not at all,” Dr. Sherry said. “They cannot relax until a task is perfect.”
Whether you see perfectionism as a positive or a negative trait, the fact is, it may hinder your productivity. You may be spending too much time on one task. So if you refuse to move on to the next until the first one is “perfect,” then you are not working productively.
If you never really feel that your work is good enough, it may be holding you back from other accomplishments. The goal, after all, is to increase productivity. Work to do well, not get everything perfect all the time, every time.
5. Stop Working, and Create Some Free Time
It’s entirely possible to become too focused on something. It’s important to walk away from your work desk or household chores every once in a while and take some time for yourself.
At least once a day, whenever you can sneak away for a bit, just go. Turn off your cell phone, unplug your computer, and do something relaxing. Take a walk in a nearby park on your lunch break, read a few chapters of an interesting book, or go for a jog in the morning before your day starts. Your mental health depends on it!
According to the American Psychological Association, mental health conditions are ranked number one among reasons for lost productivity at work. Stress is something we all struggle with from time to time. It’s important, therefore, to give both our bodies and our minds the time they need to relax and reflect.
If you’re looking for simple but effective ways to relieve stress, check out this list.