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How to challenge the myth of the “ideal worker” and become more productive

There is a widespread professional expectation that one be an “ideal worker”— and it’s killing our productivity.

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We are overworked, unhappy, and unproductive

Today’s hectic and over-stimulated world can cause us to be hurried, busy, multi-taskers, even workaholics, in an attempt to increase productivity and life satisfaction. Yet, there’s compelling evidence that slowing down can actually improve productivity and increase happiness.

Ron Friedman asked 26 best selling science and productivity writers for their tips on being productive. Of the 9 overarching themes for achieving top performance, no. 3 focuses on challenging the myth of the “ideal worker.”

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Releasing expectations

There is a widespread professional expectation that one be an “ideal worker”—fully devoted to and available for the job, with no personal responsibilities or interests that interfere with this commitment to work. While this may be the prominent view in the workplace, there’s overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Productivity requires recognizes that we can’t ceaselessly work and maintain optimal levels of performance.

Increasing your productivity level

That is to say productivity is ultimately not found in long days and late nights spent working. As Ron Friedman found, productivity experts make sure to:

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Exercise: Exercising ups your productivity level. A brisk walk during lunch time could lead to enhanced time management skills, better ability to meet deadlines, and improvements in mood.

Sleep : A good night’s sleep is key to not only our well-being but to our productivity as well. Time and time again research studies have identified the benefits of sleep. A minimum of 6 hours of sleep is necessary for staying productive. If you’re relied upon to be creative and think up new ideas, a better night’s sleep could see you succeed more than ever before.

Lack of sleep and stress are also a vicious cycle. A lack of sleep contributes to increased stress levels, something which needs to be reduced if you are to work to the best of your ability.

Cycle work : Take regular breaks. One productivity expert said they focus for 90 minutes, uninterrupted. After 90 minutes, they take a break.

Others follow the Pomodoro technique, where you’re prompted to set a timer and work in 25 minute blocks, followed by a short break each time the timer goes off. You don’t have to stick to a rigid time structure. Optimizing productivity can be in the form of cycling between focused working and taking a break.

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Disconnect: Unplug from email for some portion of time when you’re not at work.

Simple tweaks to improve your performance

Take it from experts and try these out to improve your performance. For all 9 productivity tips, check out the full article.

#Productivity

Written By

Nichole earned a Master's in Sociology from Texas State University and has publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has spent her career in tech and advertising. Her writing interests include the intersection of tech and society. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Communication and Media Studies at Murdoch University.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ruthmarie Hicks

    December 22, 2016 at 11:57 am

    This has been one of the side effects of the race to the bottom. I was actually hoping that Obama’s new overtime rules would make an impact in this regard.

    First, we have established an economy where “overtime” is actually free labor. People are on salary and make the same no matter how many hours they are putting in. Having overtime laws helps in this regard. It forces employers to acknowledge that what they are demanding can’t be done in a 40 hour week. They either have to pay up or hire more people.

    This would actually make a big dent in the slack labor market AND allow people to be more productive or at least earn money for their crazy hard work.

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