How do I increase the productivity in the factory

When I was asked last week how I was doing, I replied without thinking too much: “I have quite a lot to do, but everything is feasible. Nothing beats productivity! "

But was that really the whole answer? I should actually have said that my life is all about work: I rush to the office early, spend my lunch break in front of the screen, then pull the program through until dinner and then log in again to quickly check out a few more things to do. And when I think about it like that, I notice that on days like this I hardly move at all.

This misconception of productivity haunts almost all of our minds. But does it really only depend on the number of hours worked? Can you really do more, the more time you invest? Does your productivity increase when you sacrifice your free time? The less you get away from the job during the day, the better results you get emotional?

Not exactly! Numerous studies show that the things that we commonly consider to be “wastes of time” - for example a healthy breakfast, cute cat videos or jogging during lunch break - are good for our productivity.

That's why I've put together a list of unconventional tips for more productivity for you. Granted, the tips sound a little crazy at first, but don't let that put you off. You will be thrilled, I promise!

1. Work less.

Aside from the fact that long hours can lead to health problems, studies have shown that shorter hours can lead to health problems have a positive effect on productivity - Unbelievable, is not it?

John Pencavel from Stanford University took a closer look at this phenomenon in 2014. His study found that after a 50-hour week, employees do a lot less. From a working time of 55 hours per week, productivity drops even further. And employees with a 70-hour week by no means create more work in the additional 15 hours.

How can that be? The answer is quite simple: the more you work, the more mental and physical energy you have to expend. At some point, you'll get to the point where your fatigue has a negative impact on your productivity - according to Sara Robinson of the magazine salon this is the case after just 8 hours of work. Unless you have an important deadline on your back, it is unlikely that you will be able to perform at full capacity afterwards.

Jeff Sutherland speaks in his book The Scrum Revolution: Breakthrough Management of the Most Successful Companies a kind of threshold beyond which more working hours in no way lead to more results. This phenomenon can be represented in a curve that he calls the "Maxwell curve".

What is striking about this curve is that the productivity peak is reached at just under 40 hours per week. The curve can of course vary for different people - or even for one and the same person in different phases of life.

2. Make time for a healthy breakfast.

Are you one of those people who think that you have to go without breakfast in order to get out of the house earlier and thus do more? Then unfortunately I have to disappoint you, because that is a fallacy! Depending on what - and if - you have breakfast, you can have a huge impact on your work performance.

When we wake up, our blood sugar levels are low because we have been fasting all night, so to speak. Because of this, many of us are tired, sluggish, lackluster and often even a little irritable in the mornings. While your morning coffee can provide the necessary boost of caffeine, it also increases the likelihood that your blood sugar levels - and therefore your productivity - will drop abruptly later on.

It is therefore better to eat a healthy and balanced breakfast with sufficient fiber, vitamins and minerals so that you have enough energy for a productive day. Foods high in B vitamins - such as oatmeal, bananas, pineapples, and avocados - increase concentration. On the other hand, avoid products with a lot of sugar, such as sweet muesli, donuts, muffins and even bagels. Be inspired by our article on food for more productivity.

3. Get more sleep.

It's true: if you want to get more work done and perform better during the day, you need adequate sleep. So think carefully about whether it is really necessary to go back to work after dinner.

Sleep deprivation not only has negative effects on health in the short and long term, it is also a major productivity killer. A study by Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine the insufficient productivity of an employee with severe sleep disorders costs a company an average of 3,156 euros. For employees with mild insomnia it is still an average of 2,500 euros.

But how much sleep do you need to be productive? The answer varies from person to person, but not as much as you might think. Only 1–3% of all people really get by with only five to six hours of sleep per night without this having a negative effect on their performance. Most adults, on the other hand, need seven or eight hours of sleep a night to be fully productive the next day.

4. Work standing up

In the past few years, sit-stand desks have found their way into many offices. They can be found more often in the range of office equipment suppliers and have also become more affordable for the home office. But how much more productive are you really when you work standing up?

The American news website Business Insider tested who works more productively with some employees - those who work sitting down or those who stand. Business Insider used time recording to check how much time was "wasted" on unproductive activities, both sitting and standing.

The result: the employees who worked standing up were up to 10% more productive. Other positive effects that Business Insider noticed were increased concentration and fewer headaches. If you don't have a desk, you might find a room divider or counter in the kitchen. It is worth a try!

5. You don't have to be a perfectionist.

Perfectionism is undoubtedly appropriate sometimes, but it can be extremely detrimental to productivity over the long term. Sure, there is always somethingthat you can still improve in your work. But at what price? Sometimes you just have to accept that well enough is good enough.

Keith Frankel has written an interesting post on this topic on our English-language blog, in which he explains what “good enough” actually means. He reports that he used to only consider his work "finished" when he had really worked on it every free moment and improved, polished and optimized every tiny detail until the deadline knocked on the door. But that was neither realistic nor productive. In the following you can see what Frankel means by "good enough":

  1. The problem is solved, the requirement fulfilled or the message conveyed.
  2. There is a clear and distinct reference to the brand.
  3. The quality corresponds to or exceeds the quality of previous work or projects.
  4. The work has been carefully scrutinized by other qualified people.
  5. The final decision on subjective preferences was left to the creator.

Once you get to the point that you think something is “good enough,” draw a line and move on to the next task.

6. Take advantage of your lunch break.

In her article at Jezebel, Tracy Moore explains (Warning: The language used is inappropriate for the workplace) in a humorous, but scientifically sound way, why we should take regular breaks. The author reports that only one in five people leaves their desk or office for their lunch break. NPR has looked at the consequences of this and found that staying in one place all day is bad for the mind, creativity, productivity, and body.

It doesn't really matter whether you eat something during your lunch break. "You just have to get out," said Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the University of California's Davis Graduate School of Management who studies psychology in the workplace. “And that doesn't even have to be between 12:00 and 13:00. It is enough if you go out and do a lap around the block. This will recharge your batteries. "

7. Have a lunch nap.

It is not without reason that many modern employers offer dormitories in their companies: A nap increases productivity for the rest of the working day.

How does it work? While a nap doesn't necessarily make up for a lack of sleep, studies show that an afternoon power nap can definitely help you process new information and even learn new skills. A NASA study found that a 26-minute nap can increase productivity by 35% and alertness by 54%.

If it is impossible to take a nap during your work hours, you should still make sure to take enough breaks. Go for a walk or indulge in your daydreams.

8. Look at pictures of cute baby animals.

I will never forget how a 2012 study by the University of Hiroshima, Japan, threw the Internet into turmoil. Said study found that just looking at pictures of cute animals can greatly improve performance on tasks that require concentration.

After looking at pictures of baby animals, the study participants showed a 44% better result in performing concentration tasks than before. And the pictures of baby animals - in contrast to adult animals or deliciously prepared dishes - led to the greatest increase in productivity.

In an almost amusing combination of everyday and technical language, the researchers came to the following conclusion: “Objects that are perceived as cute serve as triggers for emotions and can have a positive effect on behavioral situations in which care is required (such as driving a car and office work) affect. "

So, bookmark this BuzzFeed article if you want to boost your productivity (and check out this article if you're in a bad mood).

9. Tidy up your desk.

Most of us find it difficult to concentrate when the desk looks like a tornado has just blown over it. Slips of paper, crumbs, piles of books that we never read anyway ... All of this stresses us out and demonstrably reduces our productivity.

OfficeMax surveyed more than 1,000 adults in the United States and found that 90% of respondents believe that clutter has a negative impact on their lives and work. Specifically, 77% of those surveyed said that messy workplaces limit their productivity. And more than half reported that this had an impact on their mood and motivation.

Other people, on the other hand, claim to like their messy and cluttered desk. And there are indeed studies that show that people can focus better on their goals in a messy environment. “Ultimately, the question you should ask yourself is: How neat does it have to be for me personally to work effectively?” Said Julia Mossbridge, M.A., PhD and visiting professor at the Northwestern University Department of Psychology in an interview withFast Company. Otherwise, you are wasting too much time fighting against your natural disposition.

10. Make a playlist for work.

Does listening to music while at work really improve productivity? Yes! However, there is no direct relationship between music and productivity. Rather, it is more that listening to music makes you happy and productivity improves because the brain releases more dopamine.

A study by the University of Windsor in Canada examined exactly how listening to music specifically affects the quality of work and the speed of software developers. The result: Participants in the study completed their tasks with music faster and presented better ideas than the developers who did without music. The reason for this: They were in a better mood.

“When you are stressed, you may be making a hasty decision. They only have a limited focus of attention, ”says Teresa Lesiuk, head of the study. "On the other hand, when you're in a good mood, you can consider more options."

However, the study also showed that personal choice of music also plays a role. For example, if you don't like classical music, Bach or Mozart will hardly make you happier. We recommend that you put on your headphones when you get the chance and listen to these playlists, which ensure greater productivity.

11. Go to a coffee shop.

While music per se does not provide a boost to productivity, studies show that the ambient noise in a café can certainly have a productivity-enhancing effect. A study of the Journal of Consumer Research studied the effects of ambient noise on creativity. Five experiments found that a certain amount of ambient noise (70 decibels, which is roughly the volume of music in a coffee shop) improves performance on creative tasks. On the other hand, a high noise level (85 decibels, roughly the sound of a motorbike driving by) blocks creative processes.

When you can't escape to a coffee shop, there is coffitivity. The website imitates the ambient noise of a café. Various background sounds are available, from “Morning Murmur” (morning murmuring) and “University Undertones” (university ambience) to “Lunchtime Lounge” and “Brazil Bistro” (Brazilian bistro).

12. Exercise during work hours.

You've probably heard that regular exercise can work wonders in terms of health, satisfaction, and productivity. But what about sport while of the working day?

Researchers have found that people who exercise during their normal work hours have been shown to be more productive, even though, strictly speaking, they spend fewer hours at their desks.

13. Take a vacation.

Burnout is not to be trifled with folks. If you work through months without recovering, you risk chronic stress. This, in turn, can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, attachment problems, and a feeling of ineffectiveness and inefficiency.

Free time has more positive effects on your productivity and job performance than you can imagine. Almost nine in ten workers feel that vacations make people happier, which in turn has a positive effect on productivity. Not to mention the 91% of executives surveyed who said that employees who return to work with freshly charged batteries are more effective.

Plus, having a healthy amount of free time means having unforgettable moments with your family and friends. This also lowers stress levels, the risk of depression, high blood pressure and weight gain. However, you have to make the decision yourself whether you want to go on holiday: nobody else can do that for you. Ultimately, the productivity you gain will not only affect your professional life, but also your private life!

14. Advocate for mixed-gender teams

It actually makes a difference whether you work with men or women! This is the conclusion of a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and George Washington University.

The researchers looked at data from a seven-year long-term study and evaluated criteria such as collaboration, trust and fun at work. Amazingly, mixed-gender teams were less happy - but more productive! Keep this study in mind the next time you need to put together a project team.

Originally published February 16, 2017, updated January 26, 2018

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