Productivity at work: The key to productive working
Productive work - what exactly does that mean? Long working hours, overtime and heaps of meetings mean nothing at all about productivity. The key to high productivity in the workplace is, above all, happy employees and a good working atmosphere. Because only those who are satisfied with their work can achieve strong results in the long run.
Studies show: Those who show up at work motivated and feel good at their job can achieve significantly more and better results even with only a few hours than another employee who puts in many more hours - but only serves his time reluctantly. This makes sense: commitment, satisfaction and fun at work have long been considered important success factors for any company. And if certain productivity killers are avoided, nothing stands in the way of a fulfilling working day.
What does productivity at work mean?
Actual productivity can be measured neither by the amount of time worked nor by attendance. Rather, it is about the qualitative results that are achieved in a given time. As an economic indicator, productivity is the ratio of output, i.e. the return, to input, i.e. the effort invested. Depending on the profession and activity, however, output and input can have very different meanings. Output in particular is not always easy to measure. Creativity or quality, for example, cannot be uniformly defined in fixed figures.
A company can only be really successful economically through productivity. Therefore, improving conditions that promote productive work should be the focus of every employer's efforts. Satisfied employees, a good work-life balance and respectful interaction are the success factors that matter.
One thing is for sure: No one can work at full power all day. Our natural biorhythms stand in the way. Most people are most productive in the morning and slow down at the classic midday slump. In the afternoon, there is a short recovery of the performance curve before things stop working at all in the late afternoon. Of course, every person is different: there are early risers who are already fit and motivated at the computer at 6 a.m., or night owls who need a long time to get going in the morning, but reach their peak performance in the late afternoon or even evening.
The most common productivity killers
Even those who approach their work with motivation have to overcome some challenges. After all, there are many stumbling blocks. The smartphone and social networks are among the biggest productivity killers. Just quickly checking your Facebook status, answering a few Whatsapp messages or skimming the latest news on Twitter: Generally, there's nothing wrong with that, but we usually get distracted by our mobile phones, Instagram & Co far too quickly and too often, and end up spending more time on them than we actually wanted to. At the same time, we keep interrupting what we are actually doing and find it harder to get back to work.
But some factors that arise from the work itself also reduce productivity. First and foremost, this is stress - constant accessibility through emails and phone calls, a too noisy work environment, too few breaks and too much workload are things that are not good for us and a structured way of working. Too much stress also leads to concentration difficulties, which in turn get in the way of our personal performance.
Increase your own productivity: This is how it works
In addition to employee satisfaction as the key to higher productivity in the workplace, there are a few points that can be addressed to improve the situation.
First of all, the right equipment for the workplace is important. Whether in the office or at home, an ergonomic and appealing workplace makes more of a difference than most people think. This includes, for example, sufficient lighting with as much daylight as possible, enough desk space and an ergonomic posture.
Especially in home office, it is not always possible to create the optimal space, depending on the circumstances.
However, even small measures can greatly improve the situation: An external monitor or an elevation for the notebook, a height-adjustable seat (if necessary, work with cushions or pillows) and regular standing up and moving around counteract an unhealthy sitting posture.
By the way: A tidy desk often does wonders. That's why you should tidy up thoroughly every day after work, both in the office and at home. Regular ventilation and green plants also improve the atmosphere.
Those who work in an open-plan office or from home with their family around often suffer from the increased noise level at the workplace. Well-insulated headsets provide a remedy.
One thing above all helps against stress and an excessive workload: set priorities. Time management methods, to-do lists and good planning make it easier to cope with work. Multitasking, on the other hand, usually leads to the exact opposite.
It also makes sense to know your own biorhythm. When is the most productive time? When are typical slack periods? If you know and use your own strong times, you will work much more efficiently. Regular breaks are essential. This is the only way the body can recover in between and overcome productivity lows. It is also important to avoid distractions during productive times in order to stay in the flow. For example, you can switch your phone, mobile phone and e-mails to silent or use the do-not-disturb functions on your terminal or browser.
Time management methods for more productivity
In order to better organise one's own tasks and become even more productive, there is a wide variety of approaches and time management methods.
No matter whether it's Timeboxing, Pareto or Pomodoro: Which method works best for whom simply has to be tried out.
The following methods are used particularly often:
- Two-Minute Rule: The Two-Minute Rule states that all incoming tasks that can be completed in less than two minutes are dealt with immediately. Anything that takes longer than two minutes is either written on a list, delegated or sorted out altogether.
- Timeboxing: Here, concrete time slots are planned for all tasks. The working days are thus divided into fixed blocks ("timeboxes") for specific task areas, for example for special projects, organisation, telephone calls or planning.
- Pareto Principle: The Pareto Principle states that 20 percent of the tasks provide 80 percent of the results. In concrete terms, this means that the most important tasks with the greatest output are worked on first.
- Pomodoro Technique: In this method, tasks are divided into smaller sections. In blocks of 25 minutes, only the planned (partial) task is worked on, without interruption or distraction. After a subsequent five-minute break, the next block starts. After four 25-minute blocks with five-minute breaks in between, a longer break of 30 minutes is taken. The alternation of concentration and break should be able to improve the output considerably.
Ideally, both the employer and the employee take responsibility for productivity in the workplace. Through small measures, workflow improvements or time management methods, everyone can really do something to improve their own productivity. A good employer also ensures an optimal working environment, a good working atmosphere and a sensible distribution of tasks. Because only when these basic conditions are met really good results can be achieved in the long term.