Let's get down to it: increasing personal productivity at work is a task for titans. Because there is no realistic way to measure it and, therefore, there is no starting point to improve it. Let's accept it Most of the advice given to improve productivity is not directed to new habits that you should acquire, but to habits that you should set aside. Here are some of them.
It is the death of the freelance, one of the main fights when you have no boss or anyone to answer, but deadlines to meet. Some assure that postponing tasks can help creativity. But experts explain that feeling that you have to do something and being unable to put yourself to it is a major source of job anxiety. Although it has not yet been identified as a serious problem, behind someone who procrastinates is the fear of failure, to take responsibility for the consequences of your decisions and even health problems such as insomnia, gastric and all stress derivatives.
Although we try to deceive ourselves with the idea that we work better under pressure, the truth is that there are many other mental and emotional reasons that prevent us from doing tasks with time. The occupational psychologist Elisa Sánchez highlights points such as the task is not aligned with the objectives – you do not know very well why you have to do it – or we do not perceive the advantage of doing it and because of this our motivation decreases.
Emotional blocks, such as fear of failure, excessive perfectionism or low self-confidence are other causes "very frequent, but not always conscious", explains Sánchez. If we combine mental mechanisms such as the Zeigarnik effect-the tendency to remember unfinished or interrupted tasks more easily than those that have been completed-there will be no force in this world that makes us get to work.
Wanting to do several things at once does not help us concentrate either. This studio, published by the University of Chicago, shows that multitasking is a fallacy. When we are doing three tasks at once, the brain jumps nonstop from one to another, which is an exhausting practice that makes you less and less productive.
In order to carry out something similar to multitasking, two conditions must be met. One, that one of them is so well learned that it is completely automatic, like walking or eating. The second, they require two different types of brain processing, such as reading and listening to music, although the thing changes when the song has lyrics, because that means coping the brain with two similar tasks simultaneously.
When the internet started coming to the houses, you turned on the computer when you wanted to visit a website but it was enough to turn it off so that the internet disappeared completely until you decided to go back to it. Now we are not always the ones who decide when to be connected: notifications bombard us and the boundaries between digital and analog have been blurred until they merge into a single reality.
This is the reason why fighting to disconnect becomes so complicated. If you have a smartphone, you must assume that not looking at it does not necessarily mean being disconnected. The study mentioned a few lines above shows that the mere presence of the mobile on the table diminishes the capabilities even of those people who seem to manage to maintain their attention and avoid touching their terminals. When someone writes you and you notice the vibration, your body reacts. And that restlessness persecutes you until you attend to the notification. The dilemma is: what is better, do not look at the phone and think about who wrote or read the message and get rid of the tension?
There is a new line of thought that suggests that striving to maintain strict limits can generate even more anxiety. The study Out of sight, out of mind? How and when cognitive role transition episodes influence employee performance suggests that maybe we should adapt to these changes instead of fighting what is happening. Jeroen Sangers, consultant specialized in improving the performance of people, teams and organizations, agrees and ensures that "instead of seeking separation we should find the balance and learn to distribute our attention dynamically according to the needs of each moment".
Accepting extra hours when the volume of work increases is reasonable, but how can your work get stuck in the chair by system? "Some studies come to encrypt between 15% and 20% the increase in productivity, the reduction of absenteeism and the increase in the level of satisfaction and commitment of employees in organizations that have implemented flexible time formulas", explains José Ángel López, psychologist expert in human resources. "We should replace that presentist conception with practices that promote efficiency, trust and autonomy regardless of the time spent in the office."
If we are all stuck in the chair, these behaviors become part of the values and culture of the company and, "far from increasing the productivity and welfare of employees, cause just the opposite," explains Lopez. And he details that presenteeism means that workers have more stress, their level of contribution and commitment to the organization are lower and they express to a greater extent their desire to leave the company.
Warming the chair then becomes a national sport and they end up generating situations such as absenteeism present: being in the office filling your time with tasks that are not relevant to your work. You can also succumb to the effect of the Parkinson's Law, which says that "all work is delayed indefinitely until completing all the time available for its completion." That is, you spend a whole afternoon doing a task that you could do in two hours if you only had two hours.