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Is staying late in office and taking on more and more work a sign of Productivity? Learn how to truly become more productive!
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Who does not like to be called productive and efficient? We all do; we strive to achieve productivity; for our customers and for ourselves – it is probably one of the primary goals of not only our careers but our personal life as well.
But what does being productive and efficient really mean?
When I first started working, I was a fresh management trainee just out of business school, eager to make a mark and learn. I would put in extra hours whenever required, work weekends as well if there was a need. But if my work was getting done in time, I would leave for the day feeling proud about how efficient I had been only to have my bubble burst by those senior to me.
“Why are you leaving so early? Don’t you have any work to do? What will your boss think of you? Do you want to give an impression that you are not working? Look at us, we work till late, the boss is happy with our productivity!”
“But I have completed my tasks,” I would argue only to be told that if I took longer to finish my work, my boss would think that I had come up with a quality deliverable and that I had a lot of work keeping me busy. That in turn would mean that I was being productive.
Those initial years shattered my definition of productivity and efficiency. My seniors sniggered each time I left office on time regardless of the fact that all my work was done. I was singled out and made to feel that I was inefficient and wasted my time at work. It made me take my first step into the world of productivity workaholism.
While being a workaholic meant finishing all my tasks beforehand, it also meant I took on additional tasks regardless of whether they needed to be completed at that moment or not. It by no way implied that I was being productive. But by the time the realization that productivity was not synonymous with being a workaholic hit me it was too late. And when it did, I realized how truly misunderstood Productivity is.
The longer I am at work, the busier I seem, the more productive I am. This is the mantra many follow but they couldn’t be more wrong. Taking eight hours to do a task that would otherwise take two might make you ‘look’ busy but definitely not efficient. Lack of sleep and long hours working will only hamper health and make us less productive.
Doing as much as you can in as little time as possible does not make you efficient. It is a lot more important to prioritize and focus on the tasks that actually need to get done. Doing a bit of everything will not lead to completion of work, instead it will further delay the work in getting done.
A popular belief is that to be productive, there should be more discussions and brainstorming sessions. If anything it only adds to the delay and brings in ambiguity to the task. While quick meetings if kept straightforward and to the point can help aid efficiency, long drawn ones that beat around the bush just do not serve the purpose.
This is a common mistake many bosses do while reviewing a task; rather than look at the quality, they go by the time taken to do the work. Most believe that the longer they work, the more productive they are thus beating the basic fact about productivity – it is about the value you are able to produce.
Getting the task at hand done with the right quality and within the stipulated amount of time or less makes one productive. Taking on additional tasks which might or might not be needed and keeping on at them does not.
Most of us today spend our time on sending emails and using them as a mean to converse over work. While they can help to a large extent, more often than not they get long winded and the work never really gets done.
Very simply put, getting your work done in half as much time so that you can do twice as much does not make you productive but it does make you a workaholic. Similarly, looking busy and spending extra hours at work does not make one efficient, instead it means that you are unable to complete your tasks on time, nor are you able to bring in a work-life balance into your life.
Most of us tend to forget the most important facet of productivity – it does not only mean getting our work done in time, it also means after meeting all our work obligations, having enough time left over to spend time with our family, read a book or take that much needed holiday.
It is the ability to derive satisfaction from your personal as well as professional lives – the satisfaction of having met your goals all across and making your life what you want it to be.
Overworked woman image via Shutterstock
Seeta Bodke is a Business Consultant and Senior Manager from the IT sector. After spending
In my first year at work when my bubble burst. I was given advice on perception management by a well meaning mentor. Perception management is the art of giving the perception that one was working to their superiors. It takes up more time than actually working but has better results in the upside down corporate world that India lives in. I know ppl who would wait till 12 am to send out an email to bosses so that they notice the time stamp and many such shenanigans.
Sending multiple mails in a day to get the visibility in a big team to give a perception that the person is very much working, sending mails at the middle of the night, always trying to be online on the internal chat tool at odd hours irrespective of working or not are such similar techniques to give such perceptions I have seen people doing it around. Productivity and efficiency really needs to be re-defined at companies. Many call these perception based techniques as smart working too 🙂
Good points, but this is somewhere happens mostly in Asian countries way of working.
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