Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. Is your desire to get things done making you less effective?
It can be immensely satisfying to complete a bunch of small tasks and cross them off your to-do list, but this “completion bias” may be causing you to give short shrift to bigger, more important tasks, says this Harvard Business Review piece. “In their work lives people routinely feel pulled between tasks that demand immediate attention and tasks that are important, the ones that bring them closer to achieving their long-term goals,” write the authors. “Unfortunately, our and others’ research shows that people have a natural tendency to overly focus on the former (such as responding to mundane emails) at the expense of the latter. One of the main reasons this happens is that human brains are wired to seek completion and the pleasure it brings.” To ensure that you’re not capitulating to completion bias, they suggest identifying your top three to five priorities every day, as well as tackling a few small tasks at the start of the workday so that you get the satisfaction of completion and then can turn your attention to bigger priorities.
2. Science says you’re starting work at the wrong time
Is the traditional 9-5 workday impacting you physically and emotionally and making you less productive? In news that will be welcome to non-morning-people everywhere, a prominent sleep expert in the UK is making a push to change the beginning of the workday to 10 a.m., arguing that most people’s natural biological rhythms aren’t in sync with 9-5 hours until the age of 55. “Staff are usually sleep-deprived,” says Paul Kelley of Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute. “We've got a sleep-deprived society. It is hugely damaging on the body's systems because you are affecting physical, emotional and performance systems in the body. Your liver and your heart have different patterns and you're asking them to shift two or three hours … Everybody is suffering and they don't have to.”
3. Is the definition of productivity changing?
This Forbes piece has an interesting take on numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor that show productivity growing more slowly today than it has in the past. David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom argue that productivity can no longer be defined solely as efficiency: “Productivity in today’s world must focus on adaptation, innovation and forward progress,” they write. “A too-heavy emphasis on efficiency suffocates creativity, innovation and progress. … Without the evolution and re-invention that creativity brings, teams and companies stagnate and even die. Just ask the cellular giants who were put out of business because they couldn’t keep up with the rise of the touchscreen smartphone. Instead of worrying about the slow growth of worker productivity today as compared to 10, or even 20 years ago, focus instead on building a culture that actually empowers your employees to create, innovate, and deliver a difference.” They caution managers to guard against “blind efficiency” and to encourage employees to spend more time “questioning, thinking, and collaborating.” And if you've been reading this blog long enough, you know QuickBase is just the lowcode platform to empower your employees to create productivity-boosting business applications to deliver that difference.