Productivity and its Connection to Happiness
New research suggests we work more effectively, creatively, and collaboratively when we’re happy at work. A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive. As the research team put it, “We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.”
When we are happy we become more positive and have more energy to deal with what life throws at us. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, has found that the brain works much better when a person is feeling positive. At those times, individuals tend to be more creative and better at solving problems. And additional research has shown that when workers are happy they’re more effective collaborators working toward common goals. As Achor sees it, the incentive for organizations is clear-cut—”happiness leads to greater levels of profits” for companies that take the right steps.
Whatever work we may do, it is of great importance that we come from a space where we enjoy what we do and are happy doing it. Happiness is the ultimate productivity booster. Happy employees, in his view, make better decisions, excel at managing their time, and possess other crucial leadership skills. A recent poll suggested that only 13% people are happy at their workplace. And that alone costs companies billions of dollars in losses annually.
It has been found that, doctors who are happy make faster and more accurate diagnoses. In education, schools that focus on children’s social and emotional wellbeing experience significant gains in academic attainment as well as improvements in pupil behaviour. Happiness has also been linked to better decision-making and improved creativity. Research shows that happiness could in fact be the key to success.
There is even evidence that happiness is contagious, so that happier people help others around them to become happier too. Think about it seriously who would you rather be around – a happier person or a sad person. An extensive study in the British Medical Journal followed people over 20 years and found that their happiness affected others in their networks across “three degrees of separation”. In other words, how happy we are has a measurable impact on the mood of our friend’s friend’s friend.
So happiness does matter – the scientific evidence is compelling. The pursuit of happiness is not some fluffy nice-to-have or middle-class luxury; it’s about helping people to live better lives and creating a society that is more productive, healthy and cohesive. As Aristotle said: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”
Happiness is the thing we want most for the people we love the most. That’s why it matters so much.
Myths Around Productivity
There are a lot of myths around productivity that hamper our growth and taking forward our life. One of the biggest myths is that to be productive we need to make a perfect plan and a perfect strategy otherwise we cannot progress. This is a very loop sided viewpoint. The idea is to start the project or plan with what you know. Yes it is essential to get more knowledge but do not wait for in waiting you lose momentum. Either which ways you make lot of mistakes and that is fine as that is the learning curve we all have. Make a beginning set the ball rolling and walk in the direction of your dreams and do not keep waiting.
The other myth is if I am stressed and multi-tasking I am being more productive. We come across a lot of people in our workshops that believe they work best when they have deadlines. The truth is that they do not. They like to believe that. Being stressed out and multi tasking is not good for you or your brain. When we try and multi-task we really do not accomplish a lot. We like to believe we are accomplishing a lot. Also the quality of the work we do drastically reduces. So focus on a single task and do not stress yourself unnecessarily.
The next myth is you must finish the work in one go and don’t take any breaks until you finish it. By doing this you lose out on the quality of your work. Our mind works best according to research for 60 to 90 minutes at a stretch. When you take a break you give your mind time to rejuvenate and refocus.
Another myth around it is to focus on the bigger things. I personally feel we are most productive when we break our tasks into small tasks. You can create short to-do lists and monitor them closely to work more efficiently. There are many ways to creating lists and there are some amazing tools for creating them. Try these and you will surely be able to become productive.
Ways to Get More Things Done
- Plan your day one day in advance–One of the most important ways you can get more things done is to let your subconscious mind take charge. Plan your day the night before, when you do that as you sleep the mind takes charge and the next morning you will be more focused and organized on what you need to work on.
- Do not check your email first thing in the morning – Make sure you are the one that controls the technology around you. Start your day right. The minute you open your inbox in the morning you are letting other people’s agenda take over your day.
- Power of an hour – 20 minutes of exercise, 20 minutes for self and 20 minutes of gratitude. Lot of successful people take an hour for themselves.
- Keep it simple – Keep things simple. Get up if possible at the same time each day to maximize your productivity. Organize your wardrobe on a weekend. The night before, organize the clothes you need to wear. Set up a daily routine and stick to it.If your job entails travelling have a designated carry-on bag with a set of toiletries pre-packed.
- The power of chunking – Schedule blocks of time. Most people sleep for about seven to eight hours a day after the sleep hours there is a lot you can accomplish. You are left with an average of about 16 hours left. Now thing very carefully how many of them are put towards making your future better, and how many of them are just there to be enjoyed? How many hours you spend taking care of your body, your mind and your spirit. How much of your time you use to create something new and how much dealing with past issues. What are your favorite blocks of time of the day and which are your least favorite.
- Don’t waste your time on things you have not done – Past is past you cannot change it or control it and the same goes for the future it is uncertain. A lot of times we waste time and energy on worrying about either the past or the future. That way we do not get things done as our mind gets into the
n the worrying and negative mode.
- Measure your progress and reward yourself – For us to get more things done we like to get rewarded. Set yourself short and small goals and when you accomplish them reward yourself with what we at AHAM call S.W.E.E.T – Short, wonderful, energizing, exciting treats.When you accomplish a goal treat yourself – maybe buy yourself a book, spend time in nature, go to a spa, take a short trip.
- Learn to relax – You’re an achiever – your time is driven by productivity – not wasting a minute. However, if you are driven all of the time, you will eventually burn out. It is essential to schedule daily time to recharge your batteries. Take some time each day to prime yourself, to relax, and to focus on the things you are grateful for. Your to do list will wait for you. By learning how to relax during this time, you will be refueled and reenergized to tackle challenges and live your mission.