Everyone knows — no matter the industry you find yourself in — productivity is king. Productive employees make productive companies, and only productive companies are able to lead the pack.
Productivity on an individual level, though, can be a difficult thing to master. Often the best intentioned among professionals struggle to attain the elusive goal of getting it all done.
In careers such as entrepreneurship, where professionals are responsible for most facets of the job, or those in the financial sector where overworking has historically been glorified, this is especially important.
And on the flip side, there is the danger of allowing oneself to become so consumed with it all that you actually produce something counter-intuitive. In fact, research has shown too much busyness actually makes us less productive.
Thus, professionals are faced with challenge of investing in their careers in such a way that they manage to remain productive over the long haul, without facing burn out, which will render all efforts void.
Give Yourself the Tools You Need
You may be tempted to think that if you have the literal tools needed to do your job, you should be able to do that job. But, it turns out that theory doesn’t translate well to the actual workplace.
Virtually every study conducted on the impact that atmosphere has on productivity has found that it matters a lot. One study found that even just the wrong thermostat setting can be distracting and can inhibit productivity. So, the primary thing needed for productivity is to make sure you have the basics for success.
Productivity, in a very general sense, comes down to managing your most valuable resource: your time. If you don’t manage your time, there’s no way you’ll be able to do your best possible work. It’s very possible — even with poor time management — to get the work done. However, excelling is a result of thoughtfulness, and that only happens when you give yourself the time to do the work well.
Additionally, not only does poor time management often mean you’re missing an opportunity to do your best work, it can produce further negative consequences.
For instance, Katie McBeth writes for Fiscal Tiger that, “Feeling rushed or feeling behind can escalate your anxiety, making you more irritable, less focused, and panicked. However, if you work on improving your time management skills, you might be able to help manage some of your work anxiety.”
Mental wellness issues like anxiety have been shown to decrease productivity and creativity. So it’s crucial that you take the time to implement organizational and time-management methods that foster a schedule that allows you to succeed.
Whether it’s noisy coworkers, bad break room smells, or that pesky thermostat, all environmental issues can become into distractions. Work environments that aren’t conducive to productivity are those that cause you to stop focusing and working.
Over half of high-performance employees report that they need more quiet space to problem solve, because their work environment is so distracting.
While leadership should certainly be prepared to help employees with time-management skills, issues that revolve around the space you work in are almost always issues that employers have to help solve.
If your place of work already offers outlets for feedback, be sure to take advantage of them. And if they don’t grant the opportunity to do so, think about how you can best bring it up. Leadership wants their employees to be successful, and they’ll likely be pleased to find ways to make that happen more consistently.
Invest in Long Term Growth
There is a clear connection between professionals who embrace continued growth and training and their productivity levels. It’s not enough to just master your craft — whatever it may be. It is also important to challenge yourself and grow.
Engaged employees always outperform those who are not engaged, and training is a pillar of a company culture with engaged employees.
As the business experts at Rutgers University point out, “A company can demonstrate that it desires to invest in its employees personally rather than simply employing them to complete a specific task. This can fundamentally improve morale and the way employees think about their relationship with the company.”
Given the fact that companies recognize the value of investing in the knowledge bases of their employees, many offer employees the ability to grow within their roles, and up into new ones. Additionally, individuals who show the desire and initiative to grow are often supported.
Take Time to Recharge
What the data suggests is that there is a correlation between taking time off and being able to maintain high levels of productivity. And that makes sense when you consider that, overall, brain breaks are good for us.
It’s important to recognize that given the attention paid to continual busyness, vacation days can seem superfluous. But the reality is they are the key to preventing burn out, which can cause someone who is typically creative and innovative to become stagnant.
Don’t be a workaholic; take the time to consider what type of distraction would actually leave you feeling refreshed and ready to continue in your efforts. Perhaps it’s a restful staycation so that you feel recharged. Maybe it’s a surf adventure that leaves you feeling inspired. Whatever it is, the point is to recognize time away from work as a resource that allows you to better do your job.
Productivity can at times be an elusive goal. But, as with other valuable skills, productivity can be practiced and cultivated. When it is mastered, it can make all the difference in a career.
Even if you have yet to land the dream job, assertively cultivating productivity and implementing the habits that support it will serve you well throughout your career. Not only that, recognizing what you need and what others need to flourish creatively is useful perspective, no matter the industry.