Most likely, you have spent long hours at the office more than once. And most likely you have ended up realising that -despite the effort and time invested- you didn’t get the results you had expected. Actually, you can’t tell how come you weren’t able to finish anything at all. According to Illich’s law, the problem is that… you devoted too many hours!
After some time, productivity tends to decrease, even reaching negative values.
As time goes by, we are less focused and make more mistakes. So instead of moving forward and achieving our goals, we’re anything but productive. This law could be applied both to your whole workday and to any specific task. Because working longer hours doesn’t mean that you are working better.
Breaks and concentration
Our work capacity is limited and we can’t stay focused for long periods of time. Several studies point out that the right thing to do is to rest for 10 minutes after every working hour in order to maximise our performance. So, when we get back to work we will be way more focused. According to the Pomodoro technique, the best that we can do is to divide work into 25-minute intervals, resting for 5 minutes and then taking a longer break whenever we fulfil one of our objectives.
Related to this, making longer workdays or not having vacations at all doesn’t help productivity either. We need to rest and disconnect. When facing any challenge, forgetting about everything for a while helps us to get back on track more motivated and focused
Know how you work
Organising your work is just as important as actually doing it. Before starting, you should take some minutes to consider which the best way to perform each task in the least possible time is. It is also essential to know our performance curves in order to plan our breaks properly. Our planning should be defined by ‘how’ and ‘when’ we work better. You must schedule breaks along your workday taking these two factors into account and, what’s more important, stick to them!
You will soon start being more productive without even realising.
Translation by Susana Castro.
Image: Oscar Keys