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12 Ways to Prevent Your Mood From Killing Your Productivity At Work

12 Ways to Prevent Your Mood From Killing Your Productivity At Work

Have you ever had one of those days when absolutely nothing goes right? Or when you open your mouth to speak and the most inappropriate words come out? Everyone has days like this. Emotions have a way of infiltrating your entire being and hindering your performance. These 12 tips provide both immediate and preventative methods to prevent your mood from killing your productivity at work.

1. Learn to compartmentalize.

Take whatever things AND feelings that are buzzing in your head and box them up. Literally envision taking each of them and putting them into a little box and sticking them on a shelf. This empties your mind so that you can focus on your productivity at work.

2. Eliminate all distractions

Turn off your television and/or radio. Shut down your email and other social media applications. Turn your phone on vibrate. Put a ‘do not disturb’ sign at your front door or office door. Close your office door. Ask your co-workers to help you not be distracted so you can concentrate.

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3. Get “in the zone”.

In general, it takes about 15 minutes to obtain this state of mind. After that, you’re very focused and not easily distracted.  This is when you are most productive. Use methods #1 & #2 to attain this state of mind.

4. Set up systems.

Have a system, a step-by-step action or a manual for every single process or duty that you perform regularly. When you have a system already in place, for moments when you’re preoccupied by a bad mood, you simply follow the steps and remain productive. In addition, because the process is laid out, it doesn’t take heavy concentration.

5. Overcome all mental blocks.

In a nutshell, mental blocks are ideas or beliefs based on past experiences. They sometimes inhibit your ability to perform at optimum levels. When you’re in a particularly foul mood, these mental blocks can be magnified and crush your productivity. There are two ways to combat mental blocks. The first one is to try compartmentalization. If that doesn’t work, have a system or a step-by-step plan of action. This way, by simply following a previously planned routine, you’re able to supersede those mental blocks and stay on task. This is especially advantageous for those ‘bad days’ when nothing seems to go right.

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6. Breathe

Don’t forget how soothing and immediate slow, deep breaths can be. Slow, deep breaths promote calmer and more qualitative actions.

7. Listen to soothing music or sounds.

Music that touches your soul, or sounds, such as the ocean, the rain or a simple beating heart can bring a powerful sense of peace and harmony.

8. Stretch your muscles.

Nothing feels more soothing than simply taking a few minutes to stretch the muscles and get the blood circulation all throughout your body. Stretching also refreshes your mind so that you’re able to stay focused. Yoga is a phenomenon right now because its techniques promote emptying the mind, relaxation and meditative breathing. This promotes a productive state of mind.

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9. Exercise.

It is a proven fact that exercise produces stress-relieving endorphins. Regardless of whether you work out at the beginning, in the middle of, or the end of the day, you still receive that adrenaline rush of endorphins that constitutes that feeling of well being. This rush is an excellent mood enhancer, and also compliments productivity.

10. Laugh a little, live a little.

Thy physical manifestations of a bad mood include sweaty palms, increased breathing and heart rate, stiff neck, headache, etc. These symptoms slow your productivity rate. Laughing slows, and perhaps even eliminates, these physical symptoms.

11. Massage for relaxation and to empty the mind.

Have you ever intensely worked on something for a long period of time and then subconsciously reached up to massage the back of your neck? Massage decreases anxiety and pressure and revives both the body and the mind providing more clarity and focus. Because it benefits both the mind and the body, it promotes a feeling of well-being, thus improving a bad mood.

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12. Positive thinking ALL the time.

Everything begins and ends with the mind-heart connection. Programming your mind to have positive core beliefs is paramount. When you think happy, productive thoughts, you’re more likely to produce happy, productive actions.

Everyone suffers from a bad mood once in a while. Incorporate these tips into your day and you will find that they will prevent you from killing your productivity at work.

Featured photo credit: Martin Applegate via dreamstime.com

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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