For a while now, you’ve noticed that you are falling more and more behind at work, even though you’re exhausted at the end of the day because you’ve been so busy. It’s not like you’re goofing off – you just have too much to do!
So, you figure maybe a couple of the new apps you’ve heard about will do the trick as they’re designed to make you more productive, organized and efficient.
But at the end of the week, you’re still not caught up at work – you think you might even be more behind. To top it off, you’re even more exhausted and stressed because you can’t seem to get a handle on your workload and balance it with your personal life.
It might help to realize you’re not alone, which is why there is such a surge in the popularity and number of productivity self-help books. One of those, “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” has landed author Charles Duhigg on the bestseller lists.
“I think we are living through a period of economic change on par with the Industrial Revolution,” says Duhigg, a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter for The New York Times. “There is a certain amount of anxiety generated by such a big change. It’s exciting – but it’s not easy.”
What most of us have discovered, he says, is that while technology is wonderful, “it doesn’t solve all of our problems.”
That’s because we may believe that if we use technology to work longer days, to perform more tasks and to be more connected than ever before, we will find success and satisfaction. But the truth is that only when we use technology and data to meet our specific needs is it helpful.
“Sometimes the best thing you can do is slow down and make sense of the data coming at you – and not get overwhelmed by it,” Duhigg says.
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In addition, leaders can help teams be more productive by allowing them to “interact” with data in ways that will help them retain the information better. For example, medical schools have the “see one, do one, teach one” philosophy because they know that allowing students to interact with patients is the way to help them best learn – and then further cement that information by teaching it to others, he says.
“It’s not always because you want to teach someone else, but it does help it (information or process) to sink in,” he says.
Further, technology can be helpful and improve your daily work only when you can see the data embedded in those decisions and then use it somehow to learn from it, he says.
In his research of how companies and individuals get more done, Duhigg finds:
Duhigg stresses that productivity is really about understanding your own life, how you make decisions for yourself and with others and how far you’re willing to push yourself.
“You know, it’s a myth that those who go to the best schools will get the best jobs and do well,” he says. “The most productive people come out of hardship, because they think more deeply about the choices they make.”