Run a search on "productivity secrets" on Google and you’ll get more than 26.2 million results. Enjoy the productivity hacks of the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (doing easy tasks first) and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (theming each day by task) alongside amazon books dedicated to help you do what you never thought possible if you just did this, this and this. They all focus on squeezing more out of your day. Doing more. Being more.
But there’s a shift in how we understand productivity.
We are becoming less focused on how much we can cram into our time and more focused on how we manage our total energy for optimal performance. The 2016 Fast Company article "Secrets of the most productive people "has been shared 5,200 on social media and the most shared productivity article of 2017 was Quartz’s "The psychological importance of wasting time." It calls for shorter working hours and more breaks. Significantly more than 1/4 million people have shared it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The article with the second most shares is"The busier you are, the more you need quiet time" and the third most popular is:"Employee burnout is a problem with the company, not the person" from Harvard Business Review.
Your brain is not built for hours of ongoing knowledge work.
Regular breaks improve productivity. Some research suggests pausing work every 75-90 minutes. That’s the period of time that you can get a lot done. Productive people get the most done during comparatively short periods because those periods are treated as sprints and they are well rested for it. You may of heard of other research that suggests the ideal ratio is 52 minutes of intense effort with 17 minutes of relaxation. We would say whether you opt for blocks of 52, 75 or 90 the principle is the same. Find the rhythm of effort and recovery that works for you and your team. Change the 0 -100mph habit that we tend to adopt in everyday life and build in well timed, brain boosting breaks.
Everyone knows the human costs of burnout
Unchecked habits create the conditions for burnout. Managers constantly demanding of their talent create the conditions for burnout. Those talented people pushing themselves constantly to prove their worth create the conditions for burnout and yet a few small changes to our habits can make burnout less likely.
Please note: This post was specifically written for people attending week four of our nine week resilience programme where we showed you how to harness your energy for optimal performance and avoid burnout.