Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. Being helpful is tiring
Helping coworkers can make you feel good and even be energizing, but it can also deplete you and leave you too tired to perform your own work, writes Klodiana Lanaj in the Harvard Business Review. Lanaj and other researchers recently published a study that found that while responding to one or two requests for help throughout the day isn’t especially draining, but fielding numerous requests for help will lower your ability to focus, manage your emotions, and persist at difficult work – and it will leave you depleted until the following morning. While helping does have positive effects too, the research found that the depleting effects of helping were stronger. Lanaj suggests, among other recommendations, that frequent helpers offer to help at a future, more convenient time instead, particularly after they’ve already accomplished their own most important work for the day.
2. Writing a to-do list helps your brain – even if you don’t finish everything on it
Writing down a to-do list can make you more productive even if you don’t actually accomplish all the tasks on your list, writes Art Markman in Fast Company. Because your brain decides what to retain based in part on how much work you do on any given item, so the work of creating the list helps your brain remember those items later. Plus, the act of breaking down a project into steps to put on a to-do list will often make you realize there are other pieces you need to do that hadn’t been on your radar. And, writes Markman, “It pulls your brain out of a reactive mode and forces you to think about the long term.” If you find you don’t have space in your calendar for everything on your list, “it's a good sign that you've been loaded down with other, less-important jobs that are crowding out your most important work. And chances are it was difficult to see that before sitting down to manage your calendar.”
3. Mood affects time management
Mood plays a major role in how you decide to spend your time each day, says new research from a Stanford psychologist. If you’re in a good mood, you’re more likely to spend time on “unpleasant but necessary” activities (like expense reports or sorting through an overloaded inbox). But if you’re in a bad mood, you’re more likely to choose enjoyable activities as a way to make yourself feel better (such as easy work or even non-work, like playing on the Internet). The researchers suggest that you’ll get better results if you intentionally leverage your good moods to allow you to work on challenges. For example, the next time you’re in a great mood, it might be the perfect time to delve into that thorny project you’ve been putting off or to write a tricky email that you’ve been avoiding.