Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
1. What happens when you give up multi-tasking for a week?
You’ve probably read about the reams of research showing that multi-tasking is bad for you – that it inhibits your creativity, increases your chances of errors, and even damages your brain’s executive function. But if you’re like most people, you probably multi-task anyway, since most of us think we’re expert multi-taskers and these studies don’t really apply to us. Business journalist Lydia Dishman, a self-described hardcore multi-tasker, decided to put that to the test. She devoted a week to monotasking and found that multi-tasking had infiltrated her daily habits in ways she’d never realized, impacting her focus and attention in nearly everything she did. By the end of the week, though, her efforts to retain her brain paid off: “I wasn’t sweating about what I might be missing, or itching to switch off-task … Not only was I more deliberate about each item I checked off my to-do list, but the focus tapped a deeper vein of contentment in the accomplishment.” (She also found that coffee doesn’t take 20 minutes to make when you don’t play on your phone the whole time.)
2. Where you sit at work can impact your performance
Who you sit next to at work may have a real impact on your performance, says new research from Harvard Business School and Cornerstone OnDemand. In fact, placing the right type of employees next to each other can raise organizational performance by up to 15 percent. The researchers report they found three types of workers: Productive (who get work done quickly but not necessarily at a top level), Quality (high work quality but less productivity), and Generalists (average on both dimensions). The study found that seating people with opposite strengths together raises performance across the board (pairing Productive and Quality workers, while seating Generalists separately). So, what does that mean for you? If your work quality is especially strong but it takes you a while to produce it, you might benefit from sitting nearer your extremely productive coworker. Or, if you churn through work quickly but aren’t getting accolades on its quality, you might do better if you sit closer to the office superstar.
3. Here’s what might be holding you back from better work-life balance
Articles on work-life balance often have the same general tips – leave work at work, learn to say no, schedule downtime – but this piece from Medium has some good advice that you may not have heard before. Author Larry Kim suggests giving yourself permission not to be perfect, ensuring that people don’t have 24/7 access to you, retraining yourself not to feel you have to respond to every email or phone message as it comes in, remembering not to mistake busyness for productivity, and not living in one world when you should be in the other (i.e., thinking about work while you’re home, and vice versa).