Productivity can easily be considered one of the most significant contributors to success. With that in mind, it may surprise you to learn that, according to INC, that the average worker in the US is only productive for an average of 2 hours and 53 minutes in an 8-hour workday.
This statistic is made even more shocking when you stop to consider just how blessed we all are to have such easy access to tools and resources that would have seemed like something from a science fiction movie just a few short years ago. With a couple of finger swipes and a click, you can learn how to build a car, read Aristotle’s wisdom, and speak to anyone anywhere in the world. From the outside looking in, any reasonable person would assume that the inhabitants of such a civilization would take full advantage of these advanced tools at their disposal, and as a result, be highly productive.
Well, that is not the case. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US workforce has been experiencing a below-average productivity growth rate for the past two decades. Yet, the two decades before that were highly productive. So what is missing? What can you do to increase your productivity? What resources are readily available to people with access to laptops, smartphones, and WiFi, that you can take advantage of right now to increase your productivity or the productivity of the people who work for you? Let’s explore some of your options.
Sharpen Your Mind With Games
It might seem counterintuitive to think that playing games can make you more productive. And sure, playing Call of Duty for 10 hours straight in the dark with Dorito crumbs in your beard is not a magic cure for your productivity woes. However, according to a peer-reviewed study, playing strategy games stimulates cognitive flexibility, positively affecting productivity. According to Brigham Young University, there is also evidence that playing video games for 45 minutes with co-workers in the office increases office productivity by 20%.
For strategy games, you have several options available (and don’t worry, you don’t need to go out and break the bank to increase your workplace output). In fact, you can even solve a free, online jigsaw puzzle if you want an easy way to experience the positive benefits of gaming on your productivity levels.
This is because puzzles have been shown to provide a wide array of positive effects on the brain. For example, when you put a puzzle together, the parts of your brain responsible for concentration and short-term memory are activated. Thus, doing puzzles is a great way to increase your creativity as well as your productivity.
Team Gaming For Team Building
There is a geocaching game called Findamine, which gives players short, text-based clues to find landmarks. In the study that we highlighted earlier (the one that proclaimed a 20% increase in office productivity), random teams of individuals were required to play one round of Findamine whilst under observation.
After the round was complete, some groups played either Halo 4 or Rock Band while others had quiet homework time or engaged in a goal training discussion. In the second round of Findamine, the goal training teams increased the most in team cohesion while playing the game. However, the video game group reported a significantly higher increase in actual work performance. Case in point, video games do have a lot of scope for providing real-world benefits and may even be the optimal way to boost productivity inside the office.
Direct Technological Strategies For Increasing Productivity
The first thing to get your head around when trying to increase your productivity is to identify your weak points. If your brain is foggy and disorganized, like so many people are, and you have trouble keeping track of things or often forget where you read something, then try to find a tool that can help. A note-worthy note-taking app called Evernote can help you keep track of virtually anything, be it a boarding pass, an article you want to read, or a to-do list.
Maybe you have trouble managing your thoughts. According to a study reported in Newsweek, humans have more than 6,000 thoughts per day. Chances are, a considerable percentage of those are unhelpful and unproductive, or even harmful. The apps Headspace, Insight Timer, and Calm are meditation apps that, when used correctly, can dramatically calm the mind, clear the thoughts, and consequently increase productivity and contribute to an overall sense of control and well-being. In fact, mediation has been linked with large increases in grey matter in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area in the brain responsible for many of our executive functions such as decision-making, focus, judgment, behavior, planning, and self-discipline – all of which go hand in hand with productivity.
Use Technology Sparingly
This also might seem like it goes against the entire thesis of this article, but it is absolutely relevant. The point here is that actual productivity, that mental space you are in when you are ticking things off your list, creating, and making breakthroughs, doesn’t come from dozens of minor incremental changes to your workspace. The real work happens from doing. To get to the point where that can happen, everyone needs help. That’s where technology can be beneficial.
The point is, using technology to make space for productivity is a far better goal than trying to fix your inability to get things done by downloading a hundred apps. In other words, try not to use technology as a crutch to the point where it actually becomes a burden. Use it to clear more time in your day where you can dedicate 100% focus to your task, and then complete them to the best of your ability.
The only way to know what works for you is to step up to the plate and give it all a shot. Put together a jigsaw puzzle, or invite your co-workers to play a video game when you all take lunch. Even putting yourself out there and asking if they want to play could invigorate you and lead to a productive, goal-crushing day. You will never know if you don’t try.
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