Why Working Less, Being Messy, & Procrastinating Will Actually Make You More Productive

Emma Seppala
Emma Seppala
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The Challenge: We believe in productivity myths–like procrastination is bad.  
The Science: Research has debunked these myths.
The Solution: Understand the real science behind productivity (it’s more fun than you think!)

The purpose of a productivity hack is to get you to do more work in less amount of time, allowing you to utilize your free time any way you wish. However, if you search for productivity tips online, you come up with quite a lot of suggestions, which may or may not be practical for you. How do you know which tip actually works and which is only a myth?

If you have been struggling with your productivity, here’s a lowdown on some of the tips you see online:

More Hours Lead To More Work

It is ingrained in the minds of most corporate employees that the more hours they put in, the more work they can get done. But, a research study published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2011 proves otherwise. According to this study, longer hours lead to fatigue which means that you accomplish less, and that the work you do is more prone to errors.  So, what is one supposed to do in a corporate environment that requires you to put in at least 40 hours or work a week?

The study suggests that in such a situation, breaks are the key to getting more work done. And, we do not just mean “breaks” where you switch to a work related task; we are talking about actual breaks where you take a bit of time off to recharge. It is now up to you to convince your boss to appraise you on your outcomes, rather than the amount of time you spend at your working station.

You Can Only Be Productive If Your Desk Is Clean

Should your desk be messy or clean? A study in the Journal of Consumer Research proves that at the end of the day, it is all about your personal style. If you are not by nature a neat and tidy person, it will take you more time to ensure that your working space is fresh and clean, as compared to someone that is by nature more organized.

The excess time that you spend cleaning your desk could actually be utilized in getting your work done. That is not to say that a messy desk always ensures creativity and productivity. If you are the clean and tidy sort, a cluttered desk will prey on your mind, distracting you from your work and hampering your productivity.

Procrastination Does not Get You Anywhere

In a work environment that prioritizes productivity, procrastination is labeled as public enemy number one. Yes, it is true that surfing randomly on the Internet wastes your time but the reality is, it is not as bad for you as it is made out to be. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, a bit of procrastination and daydreaming actually improves your focus when you finally do get down to work. However, it does advise that you should not let your downtime go haywire; you obviously have to learn to rein it in when you see your deadlines slipping and your work suffering.

You Can Get Your Best Work Done Only When You Wake Up Early In The Morning

How true is this? According to research published in the Journal of Thinking and Reasoning, this too depends on your individual personality type. Not all of us are morning people and we all function best at different times of the day. Forcing a night owl to wake up at 6 am in the morning to work on a creative project will only do more harm than good. They will be drowsy and groggy, and most importantly they will not be able to function. The result is that they will take longer to get even the simplest tasks done.

 You Can Only Work Well If You Are At The Office

Researchers from Stanford University do not seem to agree. They show that working in a comfortable environment is the key to productivity, and this comfortable environment can be anywhere, even a coffee shop. In fact, if you work at a busy office in which noise levels are high, you may find that you work better at home or at a quiet coffee shop.

In sum, listen to yourself when it comes to productivity. Not all the advice that is out there applies to you. Figure out what works best for you (whether it’s blasting heavy metal in your earphones or having chocolate treats on hand)  and stick to that.  Forcing yourself to conform to a lifestyle just because some “expert” seems to believe that it will make you more productive will generally only have the opposite effect. You will spend so much time and energy trying to get yourself to follow the tip that you won’t be able to give time to the actual task at hand. After all, that would defeat the purpose of the tip in the first place. Happy productivity!

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Kristy Megan

Kristy Megan

Hailing from the Land of Poker, Black Jack – and what not – LA, US, Kristy Megan is an MBA in the making. She started working for an education consultancy from a young age which is what helped her gain professional experience from an early age. Nowadays, she’s working with an online service that offers coursework writing service to students around the globe. Apart from her focus in educational consultancy, she also has an endless passion for the whole thing creative like conceptual art, street art, etc.
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