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6 Employee Productivity Tips to Increase Workplace Efficiency

Big Think Edge | April 17, 2018

Optimal efficiency is a goal that every organization or business strives for. However, achieving that task is easier said than done. Helping employees find ways to increase their efficiency while maintaining high-quality work presents a number of challenges.

Here’s a list of the top productivity tips to help your employees be more productive and increase their workplace efficiency:

1) Limit Multitasking

Doing more isn’t always better. While many workplaces encourage multitasking and view it as the standard of productivity, studies now show that simply isn’t the case. Employees aren’t truly engaged when trying to focus on multiple tasks at once.

Big Think expert and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says that multitasking is a myth. By repeatedly switching focus and concentration across a variety of tasks, employees are hindering themselves in a way that comes at a high neurobiological cost. The process depletes chemicals that the brain needs to concentrate effectively.

Levitin says:

“What we're really doing is we're paying attention to one thing for a little bit of time and then another and then another and then we come back around to the first. And all of these are separate projects that are occurring in separate parts of the brain, they require a separate start time, a separate monitoring process. And you end up fractionating your attention into little bits and pieces, not really engaging fully in any one thing.”

Rather than encouraging your employees to do multiple things at once and expecting good results, instead, have them focus on one task before moving on to something else.

2) Develop Strong Time Management Skills

Part of being truly efficient is to know how to skillfully manage your time. Levitin says that the key to effective time management is to organize your life and responsibilities in a way that allows you to dedicate fewer neural resources to tasks. This means:

  • Actively using your calendar;
  • Creating task lists;
  • Developing routines; and
  • Understanding your limitations.

Employees should not be afraid to say “no” or to not overextend themselves by taking on too much. By helping them to keep a realistic workload, you’ll help them to be able to better focus and feel less stressed.

In his Big Think video “How to Free Your Brain: Time-Management Tips from a Neuroscientist,” Levitin explains the effective time management this way:

“I'm not talking about organizing your time to the point that you become a Spock-like automaton or Lieutenant Commander Data automaton; the idea is that if you don't have to think about things like this, you're freeing up neural resources that you can dedicate to the things you really care about.

When employees get into the habit of practicing organizational skills in their personal lives, the benefits of this type of activity is bound to roll over into their work lives as well, optimizing their workplace efficiency.

3) Take Breaks to Bring Freshness, Clarity to Thoughts

In just about any line of work, it’s important for employees to take breaks every so often. Just getting up from your desk to walk around the office, go the restroom, or chat with a coworker for a few minutes by the water cooler can help. This brief break can give your brain time to rest and be more productive when you return to your desk and the work tasks at hand.

Women’s leadership coach and Big Think Expert Tara Sophia Mohr says that it’s important for employees to find downtime — what she refers to as "white space" — because it is as vital to the creative process as the time employees spend engaged in tasks.

Mohr is quoted in another Big Think article as saying:

“We live in a culture that valorizes over-busyness. In so many workplaces, the hero is the one who is putting in the long hours. Why isn’t the hero the person that actually can get amazing work done and leave at a reasonable time?”

4) Tap Into the Energy Found in Groups of Colleagues

Demonstrating higher levels of mental exertion is contagious. A study by Belgium psychologist Kobe Desender showed that study participants exerted more mental effort when other participants performed more difficult versions of a given task than the simple ones.

A group behavior concept that is known as “swarm theory” been a topic of fascination for scientists for decades. The basic premise is that people work harder, better, faster, and more efficiently when they share in the energy of a group rather than operating alone.

Perhaps it boils down to a form of competition. No one really knows for sure. What they do know, however, is that it works — for whatever reason. Why not encourage employees to work closely with others to see how it may impact employee productivity?

5) Read More Frequently

People who actively engage in regular reading are able to increase their fluid and emotional intelligence because it requires concentration, diligence, patience, and determination. Research has shown that people who read often are able to process information more efficiently and that they actually create more new white brain matter in the brain, which is responsible for connecting regions of grey matter in the cerebrum and aiding in system-wide nervous system communication.

That sounds like a win-win for both employees and employers alike. One way to encourage employees to read more often is by starting an employee book club. Another way could be to allow employees to schedule short periods of work time that they can spend reading. By allowing or encouraging them to read and learn new information, it provides an added bonus in that they will begin learning new ways to retool and develop new skills that they can bring to their work.

6) Engage in Physical Activities

While working out provides people with incredible physical benefits, including healthier cardiovascular systems, decreased blood pressure, improved circulation, and weight loss, there are neurological and psychological benefits as well.

According to an article in The Guardian, when people engage in regular exercise and physical activities, they can:

  • Improve their memory;
  • Improve their physical health;
  • Increase their ability to concentrate;
  • Maintain good cognitive structure and function;
  • Increase creativity; and
  • Improve mental health.

By encouraging employees to actively use their brains and bodies, you’ll be able to see a difference in workplace efficiency as well as productivity and employee engagement.

To learn more about how you can increase employee engagement within your organization, be sure to check out Big Think’s “Managing Distractions at Work” webinar by clicking on the banner below. managing-distractions-at-work-webinar

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