Working less can increase productivity
The harder and longer someone works, the more tasks get completed. Or so logic would seem to say. Now, critics are saying productivity actually increases as workers slow their pace.
The demands of work can often leave employees feeling like there isn’t enough time to complete every task — unless they work just a little bit longer.
But Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project and author of "Be Excellent at Anything," disagrees. He says we actually get more out of work if we do less.
"When the pressure is very high, what we tend to do is hunker down and stay the course and burn the midnight oil," he said.
In the age of endless technology, instead of being more productive, Schwartz says, we work longer, with more distractions
By focusing on a single task, we become more productive and the quality of our work becomes higher, he said. Once technology is added on top of our work, trying to keep up with those devices can be as addictive as cocaine, Schwartz said.
"There's evidence that it's literally addictive, that it has the same pull, the same setting off of dopamine receptors in your brain that increase your desire and are almost impossible to resist when they're on," he said.
Turning off devices like smart phones allows you to be in control of your attention and complete the important tasks at hand, he argues.
To eliminate distractions in the workplace, Schwartz says, organizations need to rethink their investments in their employees by recognizing what the organization's goals are.
"It's far better to invest in meeting their needs," he said. "One of the most fundamental of which is intermittent renewal — providing the support for people to take breaks; setting defined email hours, beyond which you don't have to respond, limiting the length of meetings, all of those things are aspects of what makes a workplace more livable and more sustainable."
Managers, executives, and leaders need to realize that the "more, bigger, faster" mindset isn't better, Schwartz says, and in order to improve productivity and increase the quality of work, changes can be made.
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