Productivity is About Quality Not Quantity
So how can we actually be more productive rather than just trying to look more productive by overworking and actually slowing our productivity down?
Ready for this myth-buster? Multitasking isn't real. It's simply switching from one task to another without completing anything. In fact, multitasking can actually lead to decreased productivity.
According to Schulte, "The brain can only pay attention to one thing at a time. And every time you switch tasks, you deplete your energy, willpower, and hit decision fatigue." found that multitasking lowers our intelligence to the state of being stoned—we actually lose 10 IQ points. So next time you brag about how you're an excellent multitasker, think twice and try one thing at a time!
Remember Positivity Comes Before Productivity
Shawn Achor, author of , Co-Founder & CEO of , and , famously argues that in the workplace, —not the other way around.
"The human brain at positive has an unfair advantage over that same brain at negative or neutral," says Achor, who strives to show companies the science behind fueling productivity with happiness and positivity in the workplace. "When we are positive, we show a 31% increase in productivity, 40% increased likelihood to get a promotion, 23% fewer stress-related symptoms, 37% higher sales — the list goes on and on. The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive and engaged workforce."
"The greatest competitive advantage in the modern economy is a positive & engaged workforce” via @shawnachor @wrike
So what are some positivity best practices we can start instilling in our workplace? Achor recommends practicing gratitude everyday. For example, writing a positive note or email thanking someone raises your social connection score. "Researchers have found that finding three new things you’re grateful for every day can move people dramatically on the optimism scale and raise their social connection score," says Achor. He also claims that just 15 minutes of cardio a day, or 30 minutes three times a week, is the equivalent to taking an antidepressant.
Take Back Your "Leisure Time"
Stop looking at vacations as a sign of slacking off or lowering your career advancement opportunities. shows that the exact opposite is true: taking a vacation can actually increase your likelihood of earning a raise or promotion. So what's stopping us?
In her book, Schulte discusses the importance of leisure time and how we need to preserve this "timeless flow space" in a world where everyone is constantly interrupted and fragmented. She describes this space as one where we become completely absorbed in the task at hand (something we genuinely love doing) and are ultimately at peace. During this time, we can reach optimal happiness as long as we don't get interrupted. According to Schulte, our three biggest roadblocks to reaching this flow state are: work, mindset, and the "Culture of Busyness". In an environment where the hardest workers are perceived as the most successful, where a work-first attitude is rewarded, and where being busy results in bragging rights, it's difficult to motivate ourselves to prioritize leisure time, and to stop ruminating on what work can I do from home.
In a study conducted by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan from the Institute for Applied Positive, it was concluded that if you:
- plan a month in advance and notify your coworkers in advance
- go outside your city
- meet with a local host or other knowledgeable guide at the location
- have the travel details set before going
"Smart vacations lead to greater happiness and energy at work, and therefore, greater productivity, intelligence and resilience," says Achor.
The Happiness Movement Starts With You
Now you know the (not-so) secrets to successful productivity. We can spew data and statistics all day long, but in the end, it's up to managers and employees to change the conversation around happiness in the workplace. It's never too late to improve your productivity and happiness!
Check out Shawn Achor's TED Talk, The Happy Secret to Better Work: