We, the people, “they” (the experts) say, are in a post-consumption society. We have enough money for everything we need, and most of what we want … however, our most scarce resources are time and attention. How do we use all the incredible stuff available to us to be effective and productive at work and play?
Limits to Productivity per Week
The Sydney Morning Herald weighed in recently on the costs of the 24×7 life- and workstyle many of us have embraced, or feel that we have to embrace. Some of the issues considered are:
- The increased difficulty of finding down time for thinking and respite. We become pressured by work to do “productive tasks” during these times.
- The constant pressure to perform is driving anxiety disorders, with people buring out due to the constant pressure of work and not being able to get away from it.
- People can only be 100% productive for 45 hours per week; for hours after that amount, efficiency drops sharply.
- Constant electronic communication doesn’t necessarily improve the quality of interactions. It can quickly reduce communication effectiveness.
The article talks about James Katz’s book Perpetual Contact: Mobile Communication, Private Talk, Public Performance.
So … the key takeaways are … (1) schedule downtime / thinking time into your calendar and be consistent about taking it; (2) limit work to 8-9 hours a day; and (3) in all communications, consider effectiveness as well as efficiency.
Productivity Tips from Claire
Claire’s productivity tips for the week:
- Craft a special environment that enables you to be productive. The props will help you get into the right frame of mind. See Props for Productivity (May 22)
- Remove items from your work area that will remind you of other interesting things that you want to do. See Subtracting for Productivity (May 23)
- If you have a list of things to do, a short amount of time in which to do them, and you aren’t sure which is the best thing to do, go through the list and compare each item in turn against each other item (“would I do this one or that one?”), and give the winner a mark. When you’re done you’ll quickly see which items are most important. See Prioritizing by Comparison (May 19). Also see Setting Priorities for other ways of prioritizing.