What Is Productivity?

There's only so much time in a day, a year, or a life. The ability to work efficiently within that time can boost outcome. Productivity results from a mix of factors: motivation, talent, training, work environment, support from others, time management, and even luck. Some people seem to be natural super-producers; others look to daily exercises and good habits to help them get things done.

Productivity hinges on mental energy, a sense of motivation, alertness, and buoyancy. It often emerges naturally from work that one finds inherently meaningful or valuable. Researchers find that it can be cultivated through focusing on meaningful elements of a larger goal, or focusing on a larger meaningful goal can help activate energy and drive for component tasks. Physical elements also play a role in fostering productiving; exercising, eating healthily, and sleeping well can boost efficiency.

People typically focus best for periods of 90 to 120 minutes. After that window, a break can allow the brain to refuel. A short respite, such as taking a walk or chatting with a colleague, can deliver another spurt of productivity. It takes time for the brain to disengage from one set of tasks and to switch to another. Technology today poses an endless supply of immediate distractions; avoiding them can help fuel productivity as well.

How to Maximize Your Productivity

The pillars of productivity are mental energy, physical energy, and motivation derived from meaningful work. Simple strategies can support these overarching needs, prevent procrastination, and boost productivity. Identifying priorities, and accomplishing projects that are most important, or most meaningful, can help lead to a productive session. Creating a schedule for the decisions that need to be made and tasks that need to be completed is also useful. Responsibilities that seem particularly onerous stand to benefit from being broken into small, incremental steps, a move that can alleviate feelings of stress and inspire a sense of fulfillment that spurs taking on the next task. Perhaps most important is focusing intently for a period of time and then taking a break, creating an opportunity to rest, indulge in potential distractions, and prepare for the next burst of productivity.

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