is a tricky science to master for businesses. What works for one industry,
company and even employee might not work for another.
many ways, that’s why productivity tools exist: to give even the
smallest businesses a chance to intelligently and flexibly make improvements in
a way that suits them. Productivity tools include those that allow safe but
broad access to the information people need whenever they want it, digital signing
tools for added speed and efficiency when handling documents, and data
dashboards that give you insights across your entire enterprise at
the click of a button.
arguably just as important as knowing how
to improve workplace productivity is knowing what not to do.
The worst of these productivity foes come disguised as friends, so you’ll think
you’re helping your business and your staff but might actually be doing the
we debunk seven of the most common productivity myths.
1. The best employees can multitask
a myth that the best employees are great at multitasking. In fact, it’s a myth
that multitasking—as in doing more than one thing at once—exists at all.
According to a Stanford
Multitasking Study, humans don’t really multitask but their brains
switch quickly between single tasks.
means people trying to multitask are actually “sacrificing focus” by
concentrating on the actual job switching itself. And there’s more bad news for
2. Job juggling makes the most of time
all have more than one thing to do at any given time in the work day. But
whether you or your staff are trying to “multitask” or actively job switching,
it actually doesn’t help to do more than one thing at once, studies show.
your brain will nag your unconscious mind if you’ve started but not finished a
task, creating a feeling of unease.
seem to work best, then, when allowed to focus on single tasks to completion,
even at the expense of momentarily ignoring others, rather than juggling
multiple jobs at the same time. It may even be better for mental health.
3. We can effectively “will” our way
through a task
people can push through an unfavourable job on sheer willpower alone, the idea
that they can do so and still produce their best work is pure mythology.
the contrary, it might be a half-baked idea to push through in this way,
according to a piece
of cookie-related research. Psychologist Roy Baumeister gave
hungry participants a difficult mental task to complete and a plate of fresh
biscuits, saying the subject could have one either before or after the job.
showed that participants who willed their way through the tasks before
rewarding themselves with a treat spent their energy on self-control and
performed significantly worse on the tests.
the term “ego deletion”, a form of mental exhaustion from using ones’
willpower. Businesses may want to consider how much they can expect of their
staff when asking them to push though difficult tasks. In reality, it might be
counter-intuitive to their—and your business’—productivity.
4. The current working hours are optimal
9–5 (what a way to make a living) with a lunch-break and two 15-minute rests is
the norm—but is it ideal for productivity?
suggest not, particularly for jobs that require a mental workout. That’s
because of something called the ultradian rhythm, which fixes the brain into
productivity cycles. The optimal time for a person to work on mental challenges
is 50–90 minutes, followed by a rest of around 20 minutes.
Atlantic even heralds the perfect productivity formula to be working for 52
minutes followed by a 17-minute break.
5. “Facebook breaks” improve
as a general rule giving staff the time to take short breaks more often allows
people to rejuvenate and work more productively. But the effectiveness of that
break depends on what people do while resting.
psychologist John Bargh found that if the break is used for something also
mentally taxing, or on something that feels like a task, the productivity boost
because the brain is convinced that it has actually done something in that
time, giving you a feeling of accomplishment and diminishing your motivation to
do more arduous tasks.
Facebook, tidying the desk or running errands, while they might seem like
breaks, are only mythological productivity tips. Instead, stretching, reading a
magazine or going for a walk might instead promote true workplace efficiency.
6. Being “always on” helps productivity
can be true or false, depending on what “always on” means to your people and
idea of working late into the night to complete a project is unfortunately
unavoidable to most people at some point in their working lives. To help,
today’s generations likes to think of themselves as always on and available to
work on something if required—or even always connected to the wider world
through modern technology.
major loser of this trend is often sleep, which is where productivity can be
ruined if people don’t get enough of it.
B Simon, the editor of Harvard Health, says a third of people in the US aren’t
getting enough sleep to perform at their peak ability, costing the country’s
economy some $63
billion a year in lost productivity.
use “always on” in the right ways. Give your staff the ability to work
remotely, leveraging cloud-based
business apps to make out-of-office work more productive. But
be sure “always on” doesn’t include those essential eight hours at night.
7. There’s a one-size-fits-all solution
that being said, there isn’t a single magical solution to improve business
productivity. Techniques that work for one employee might be different for
another. One might be more productive in the morning, one at night; one in the
office, one at home.
up to individual businesses to find a bespoke solution that works for them and
their staff. And while productivity apps aren’t a silver-bullet solution
either, they do give business owners and managers a wide variety of help, so
they can find an approach that works for them and their business.
9 Spokes is a free data dashboard
that connects your apps to identify powerful insights to deliver your business