Taking on more hours at work may not be the best path to productivity. As a manager or business owner, expecting staff to stay late may be negatively impacting morale, as 72% of employees believe that more hours doesn’t necessarily mean greater productivity. And they are right.
Research that examined the relationship between hours worked and productivity found that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour workweek, dramatically decreases after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours, according to a study published by John Pencavel of Stanford University. In addition, extra hours led to increased absenteeism and employee turnover. Yet the “working more” myth still prevails as nearly half of U.S. workers say they routinely put in more than 50 hours on the job each week, often without overtime pay.
Improving Productivity from Nine-Five
An efficient, productive work day is actually easier to achieve than most think and offers the remarkable benefits of an improved work-life balance. Here are some tips:
Better Time Management
Making the most of the time you have at work is one of the simplest ways to be more productive. For example, the average employee spends approximately 15 minutes each day shredding documents. Employers can help reduce the amount of time spent performing this task by incorporating automatic shredders into the office. These machines automatically shred documents and do not require a staffer to hand-feed papers, thus reducing the number of minutes needed to complete the task. The time saved can now be allocated to other work-related tasks. Learn more about what you can do with 15 minutes at work.
Set Personal Breaks
Taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. Short rests to stretch or take a quick walk, or even a deep breath during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance.
Set Personal Deadlines
Rather than relying on a project deadline to gauge your time during the work day, set your own self-imposed deadline. You may be surprised how productive you become when you determine your own limits, and you will feel good you finished projects sooner.
Set Performance Intervals for Your Work Day
Researchers have found that elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus. By scheduling your day around 90- minute time slots you may find that you have completed a lot more by the end of the day, and without feeling exhausted or stressed at quitting time.
A combination of personal focus and time management can eliminate those long hours at the office and improve your productivity. You will certainly enjoy the time away from work as well so you are recharged and fresh for work in the morning.