The other day, on behalf of BNI, I exposed five of the biggest, most common misconceptions related to on the job productivity. I discussed why and how those ideas were wrong and explained a variety of ways to work past them. Now I'm back to expose five more equally important, equally common, equally problematic misconceptions about productivity and help you avoid falling into their clutches.
1. Tiredness doesn't negatively affect productivity
Okay, to be fair, this probably isn't a genuinely commonly held belief about productivity, most of us are at least peripherally familiar with the serious cognitive drawbacks of tiredness, and we can all recall times that our performance suffered due to lack of sleep. But even though we know working tired is almost certainly detrimental to our productivity, we often do it anyway. High profile companies like Google and Uber offer the right solution, encouraging on-the-job napping. A 15-20 minute power nap can do wonders for your performance, so next time you're struggling to keep your eyelids open at work, close your office door or slip off to your car and grab a few z's.
2. The most efficient way to complete a task is to work non-stop until completion of all of the work
This is one of the most pervasive misconceptions, affecting just about everyone. At one point or another, we all sit down to get some piece of work done and decide that- distractions and other commitments aside - we're going to go all-out until we've done what we set out to do. While this style of working can be beneficial in certain situations, it's best used sparingly. Another method, the Pomodoro Technique, which alternates between 25 minute work periods and 5 minute rest periods, is a better default option. In addition to optimizing your time to increase your productivity, working consistently according to this schedule has a variety of other proven cognitive benefits.
3. You should get less-important work out of the way first so that you'll be able to complete your more important work uninterrupted
Willpower is a finite resource. The longer you put off your most important work, the more of time you'll have used up over the course of the day and the less able you'll be to get that important work done efficiently. If you leave that work longer, you'll also find yourself more cognitively and physically tired and less motivated to get the work done. Tough tasks are daunting, but don't put them off; if you do, you'll only be hurting yourself.
4. Smartphones are wholly beneficial to productivitySmartphones are incredible, essential tools for today's professionals
No one denies that they allow us to accomplish wonders, but as amazingly helpful as they can be, they do come with drawbacks- and fairly notable ones at that. One of the biggest is the mind-wandering they provoke. In recent research, seeing or hearing cell phone notifications distracted participants from the task at hand, decreasing their focus and hurting their performance on cognitive tasks.
Smartphones are incredible, essential tools for today's professionals. No one denies that they allow us to accomplish wonders, but as amazingly helpful as they can be, they do come with drawbacks- and fairly notable ones at that. One of the biggest is the mind-wandering they provoke. In recent research, seeing or hearing cell phone notifications distracted participants from the task at hand, decreasing their focus and hurting their performance on cognitive tasks.
5. Music benefits productivity
Where a lot of the misconceptions about productivity thus far have stemmed from the lack of proper dissemination of research, this is the polar opposite. Just about everyone has heard in one form or another that music results in more productive work. The issue here isn't the factual basis for the argument- which is indeed strong- but its misconstrual. Evidence suggests that non-lyrical music, especially classical music from the Baroque era has cognitive and productivity-related benefits. This does not hold true with lyrical music, which can do more to distract than focus.
My goal this time around was the same as last time- to correct harmful mistaken beliefs about productivity in the workplace, to help you negotiate the issues those misconceptions raise, and to help you become a more efficient and effective professional. I hope that I've been able to do that.