Productivity is at the heart of everything we do and something we talk about a lot. In our productivity training sessions we look at how to work productively as a group and individually. Recently someone asked me why I care about helping people be more productive. It’s not because I’m obsessed with output (although good output is a definite benefit), it’s because I’ve learnt firsthand that productivity is oftentimes not a luxury.
At the moment, with offices closed and many people working from home but feeling very anxious and dealing with much outside of work, productivity is vital not only for businesses to keep going but also for individuals to feel less overwhelmed.
There was simply no way I could work longer, so I got better at working smarter.
Productivity is so important because it gives you the confidence that you’ll complete the necessary tasks in the time you have (or ideally less) and then be able to go and manage the rest of your life. If you’re a parent or you need to work more than one job to get by, this isn’t a nice to have, it’s fundamental.
I’ve always enjoyed being efficient; even as a child I’d get my homework done as soon as I got home so I’d have time to play with my siblings or read, and that approach continued through university studies and into my working life. Generally, I worked this way because I wanted to do nice things with my time – productivity was something I wanted rather than needed. However, there have been three periods of my life when productivity became a necessity.
The first was when I was a teenager and our mum was diagnosed with cancer. At age 15 my cushy bubble burst, and I found myself needing to get things done quickly so that I could pick up housework, help to look after my siblings and at one point, when the cancer spread to her brain, visit the hospital several times a week so my dad could have a break. I also suddenly learnt the value of time spent uninterrupted with loved ones, and I knew I wouldn’t want to look back on that time and remember dawdling over an essay; I wanted to look back and remember chatting with my mum.
The second was in my final year at uni. As the year progressed and the work ramped up, I found myself increasingly exhausted. I needed to sleep 10 hours a night and nap for an hour in the afternoon to get through the day. Eventually I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and I gradually got better (mostly by switching from cardio workouts to yoga and by cutting out sugar and caffeine), but in the meantime I needed to use my time as productively as possible in order to get the result I wanted in my finals.
The third and final time (so far) that productivity became a necessity was again because of a health problem. I was working at Grey New York and I got very ill very quickly. I was dizzy most of the time, nauseous when I ate, having weekly migraines and just as tired as I had been in my final year at uni. I lost about 15lb in a month and my life became sleeping and working. It took 6 months and various doctors before I was eventually diagnosed with amoebae (tiny parasites, yuck), which were effectively preventing me from absorbing most nutrients. Fortunately I was given very strong antibiotics and recovered in a couple of weeks, but for those 6 months productivity was my lifeline. There was simply no way I could work longer, so I got better at working smarter.
Some people just don’t have the leeway to be unproductive – in fact I’d argue that’s the case for everyone at some point in their lives – and yet modern work environments make it incredibly hard to actually work efficiently. This is why we’ve made it our mission to help individuals and groups think well and work well, so that they achieve the best results for themselves and their organisation, as well as having the time and energy for whatever else is going on in their lives.
For just a few more weeks, we’re offering our info-packed wellbeing and productivity trainings for free. These are specifically aimed at addressing the challenges of working from home in the current situation. Email email@example.com for more information.