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Posted by on Feb 26, 2013

5 Surprising Work Changes that Can Increase Your Productivity

5 Surprising Work Changes that Can Increase Your Productivity

Everybody knows some tips that can make them more productive—“remove distractions,” “get organized,” and even “use an ergonomic chair” are so familiar now that they are almost clichés.

But that doesn’t mean that you know everything. The following five changes that can increase your productivity aren’t the usual suspects. They may surprise you, and even make you reassess what you thought you knew about motivation and work ethic.

And now for something completely different. Traditionally, managers and employers have tried to give tasks to employees based on their skills and abilities, logically believing that having someone do what they’re good at would mean the job gets done quickly and well. While this is true to an extent, more and more companies are taking their employees’ psyche into consideration and finding that they can actually raise productivity levels by letting them take on new, less familiar tasks.

What does this really mean? Basically, that people get bored if they’re doing the same thing all the time, so we need a little bit of variety or we stop caring. When you put it that way, it seems pretty obvious. And as a double-bonus for employers, by having employees gain experience in multiple areas of the business, they are creating assets with wider knowledge bases who can better help them out and be moved around as needed. Remember these great arguments the next time you head in to talk to your boss about doing more than the same old thing all the time.

Sleep on the job. Yes, you know that taking breaks will allow you to come back to the task at hand refreshed, but were you aware that napping can do the same thing? Experts have found that taking a nap during the day not only recharges you, it can actually help you solve complex problems. Your brain keeps working on the issue at hand even while you rest; in fact, it does it better than when we’re awake because sleep has the effect of “decluttering” our thoughts so that we can dream up creative answers.

Famous nappers in history include people like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein, so you’re in pretty good company. So get a sleep mask and get your nap on—just be careful to stick to naps of around 15-20 minutes or 90 minutes, because anything in-between will interrupt a REM cycle and you’ll wake up groggy.

A little less conversation, a little more action. Go to any number of companies these days and you’ll probably find meetings going on. Lots of meetings. Meetings about meetings, and then more meetings to talk about those meetings.

Find ways to skip most meetings so you can work on achieving results instead of talking about achieving results—most of the time this leads to more “real” work getting done. Obviously, it’s still vital to share ideas and come up with ways to streamline processes, but limiting this “unproductive” time can really help the bottom line.

I can’t breathe in this thing! 4 to 16 percent. That’s how much more productive people are at doing basic math problems and typing when the air quality in their area is improved. Some research even shows that people’s performance gets better just because they think the air is cleaner.

Clean, healthy air is more important than ever these days as the average work week keeps increasing and most people spend those working hours indoors for stretches of 8, 10, 12, or more hours at a time. If this sounds like your workplace and you’ve noticed your productivity slipping, talk to your boss about getting an air purifier. Hook one of these babies up and say goodbye to pollutants and allergens. That means that not only is it a great way to make people feel better about the air, it can actually help to prevent work stoppage due to allergies and other kinds of illnesses by removing disruptive elements from the environment.

About those TPS reports… This may not surprise many of you worker bees out there, but studies have shown that one of the biggest improvements for productivity is to change out the person in charge. That’s right, bosses and managers play a huge role in their department’s productivity.

Here’s the truly surprising part, though. It doesn’t seem like motivational tactics really change productivity levels all that much. What does? Educating people about how to be productive. Apparently, the best bosses are the ones who teach. We’ll let you figure out the most tactful way to bring that up with your boss.

About Juliana Weiss-Roessler


Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a professional freelance writer and resume writer based in Los Angeles. She's written hundreds of resume, cover letters, and thank you letters in a wide variety of fields. You can learn more about her work at www.weissroessler.com.

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