How many times have you pushed yourself, working longer hours, skipping meals and shunning your social calendar all in the name of productivity? It may seem like this kind of drive would lead to the kind of professional results you want, but the opposite is actually true.
There is a way to work hard, and then there is a way to work smart. Working smart means learning to understand yourself and your limitations as well as your abilities. Learn to really squeeze out every ounce of productive energy you are capable of with these four checkpoints of productivity.
1. Your body has its own agenda.
Have you noticed how certain times of the day are your most productive? There are quite a few of us out there that do our most efficient work early in the morning before the rest of the world has even made it to the office. If you are one of these people, learn to respect your body and its internal clock. Be sure to make an early bedtime a priority so that you can be up and starting your day in time to hit your peak hours. Not only will you have a quiet office to yourself with no interruptions, you will get a jump on all the little things like email and task management that might otherwise bog down your productivity later on.
2. You are not an island.
You cannot succeed alone in any industry. Even the most reclusive eccentric artist needs a community of people to help their art reach an audience. Building a strong community of relationships within your workplace and your network is crucial to success. You need as many people on your side as possible in life. The same goes for your career.
Socializing is also a way to maximize productivity by creating a positive feeling in the workplace. If you are enjoying your day because you have a bond with the people around you, you will naturally be more productive.
3. You need your downtime.
There is a reason the workday is finite and vacations are standard practice. You cannot work 10-hour days, 365 days a year and expect to be performing at your maximum level of productivity. Sure there will be times when you need to push through for a few more hours here and there, but either you take your scheduled breaks, or your body will force you to take a break with illness.
About every two hours or so stand up and stretch. Some advocates of productivity training suggest you do so every hour. Find what works best for you. Walk around the block or chat with a coworker. Do something away from your desk and computer.
And don’t skip that vacation time! Twice a year you need to get away and do nothing but relax. It can be a “staycation” if you want with little more than a few great movies and a turned off phone. But you will be better at your work and more fun to be around if you have given yourself permission to unwind.
4. You have to come from a place of inner happiness.
People want to work around other people they like and trust. People want to be around others that are glad to be there, excited about what they are doing. That kind of energy is catching and self-generating. Find a way to bring your own personal happiness into the picture and you will be better at your job.
You may think that by working less and using these tips you would be less productive, but give them a try and see for yourself. If you are investing in yourself and working smarter, you will find out just how productive you can really be.