Productivity is a common goal in today’s society. Perhaps you’ve read an autobiography about a famous entrepreneur who is characteristically able to handle multi-tasking as easily as breathing, hoping the book would inspire you, but ended up feeling defeated instead. Maybe one person at your workplace constantly has better productivity metrics than anyone else in your department, and you’re left doubting you could ever catch up.
If scenarios like those above cause discouragement, consider adjusting your perspective on productivity. Being productive doesn’t necessarily mean you’re able to do several things at once without getting stressed or even that productivity is always related to speed or quantity. By thinking about things in a different way, you may discover you’re actually just as productive as your peers, but in different ways.
Embrace Your Talents
Often, productivity is easiest to achieve when people are allowed to take part in the things they do best. For example, if you’re a naturally creative person who’s stuck in a customer service job where all your responses are scripted and where creativity might even cause you to lose your job, you’ll probably find productivity impossible to achieve.
Ideally, you should look for work that allows you to exercise the talents that make you an asset to the workplace and perhaps give you a leg up on your colleagues. If switching jobs isn’t an option at the moment, consider talking to your boss to see if changes could be made in the way you spend time at work so you’re more often able to shine through your natural strengths. In that situation, you may find you truly reach your stride and are more productive than you thought at first.
Do One Thing at a Time, With Excellence
Although multitasking is praised as a very worthy trait, less intuitive evidence suggests trying to do too many things at once causes a bottleneck effect in the brain that leads to distraction. If multitasking is tough for you, change your tactics and focus on just doing one thing at once to the best of your abilities.
After a few weeks of working via that approach, you may find your to-do list gets done faster than ever. Your ability was always there, but is now evident because your brain doesn’t have to struggle to process everything as you juggle many tasks. Remember that by doing the best you can as often as possible, you’re a definite asset to your workforce even if the things you do aren’t completed extremely fast.
When your mind wanders too much because you’re fixated on your next task, set a timer and strive to dedicate yourself to a single task for a given length of time, such as an hour. Once you break down your schedule in this way and let the clock dictate your focus, it shouldn’t make you feel guilty to throw all your efforts towards one thing.
Work Smart, Not Hard
If your usual way of getting work done means putting in long hours with little rest, aim to stop working so hard, and work smart instead. There are several ways you can start working smartly. These tips include constantly developing your skills, managing distractions, coming up with desired outcomes and knowing how important it is to put yourself first.
The more you prioritize smart work over hard work, the more you’ll realize you’re a lot happier, and therefore able to enjoy a peak performance more often. Keep in mind that changing the way you view work tasks will take time. It’s a slow but rewarding process.
Rather than loading up your smartphone with apps that promise productivity boosts, spend some time learning more about yourself and recognizing the ways you can contribute to society that are undoubtedly productive, even if they don’t fit into stereotypical definitions of what constitutes productivity.