You may have heard the oft-quoted statistic that when Google made their doodle a playable version of Pac-Man, the US economy lost an estimated $120 million in productivity (although that number has been criticized). That’s a loss of productivity on a massive scale. How do you address your own productivity, and make it better?
First, try to get rid of distractions. No, I don’t mean hide Dale’s fidget toy he’s constantly clicking all day long. See if your job will allow you to listen to some music (with headphones) as you work, or wear some ear plugs to help eliminate the worst of the noises. If your cell phone isn’t used for your job, put it in airplane mode, or tuck it in a desk drawer. Allow yourself the chance to work without your phone buzzing every time someone likes your Instagram post of your coffee cup from this morning.
Stay hydrated and well-fed
You wouldn’t try to drive across town on an empty tank of gas, but for some reason a lot of times we try to work on an empty stomach (or while dehydrated). This is a big mistake, because not only can it lead to getting sick, but it makes us have to work harder to do the same amount of work. It’s been shown that even a 2% reduction in our body’s water can lead to reduced concentration, alertness, and make us more exhausted.
It’s important to delegate tasks appropriately. This does not mean to just dump your workload on someone else (that’s a jerk move), but effective splitting of tasks among team members so the chief engineer isn’t calling the supply company for a refill for printer ink. This doesn’t mean having an arrogant attitude of “I’m above this menial work,” (again, that’s being a jerk). There’s nothing wrong with a CEO helping to carry a heavy box. But when it comes to the system your company has set up, think ahead about the best person for each task.
Take a Break
Yes, seriously. Think about when you work on a single project for hours on end. There’s a certain point where it all just blurs together and you spent the last twenty minutes not making any significant changes because you’ve been staring at it for too long. Allow yourself the opportunity to walk away. Go get a cup of coffee, take a walk around the parking lot, use the restroom. Do something else, even for just a few minutes, then come back to your desk with a clear head and a fresh set of eyes. These little interruptions can actually help productivity because you prevent the brain dead staring at the screen that happens when you don’t give yourself needed moments away.
The most important thing to remember out of all of this though is that there’s a real difference between being productive and just staying busy. Do not waste your time running in place (staying busy), but instead move forward towards a goal (be productive). Although, to be fair, this distinction doesn’t apply to OK GO.
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