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How Do the Seven Deadly Sins Relate to Workplace Productivity?

How Do the Seven Deadly Sins Relate to Workplace Productivity?

As early as the 14th century, the Seven Deadly Sins began being used as a theme in European artwork, which in turn helped them become an integral part of the culture of the Catholic Church. They’re used to illustrate man’s tendency to sin after the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. Today, they are usually recognized as pride, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, greed and slothfulness. Keep reading to see how these no-no’s could relate to how productive you are at work.

Lust, Greed, Envy, Wrath and Pride

Have you ever found yourself doing anything you could to get ahead in the workplace, even if that meant sacrificing your own morals in the process? We live in a “me-centric” culture and while there’s nothing wrong with doing everything you can to keep your skills sharp and your knowledge current, be careful that you don’t spend more time lusting after the news of a co-worker’s recent promotion and instead wondering why you weren’t the lucky individual who was granted that opportunity. Remind yourself there’s no need to wonder what might have been and that you’ll get more accomplished by showing yourself and others that you’re an asset to your job. Whether your task is to clean toilets or pitch new products to customers, do it to the best of your ability. Rather than getting caught up in what others are doing by lusting over their accomplishments, focus on making your output the best it can be.

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Greed can take many forms at your place of work. It could manifest itself as you pile your plate high with food after your manager has thoughtfully ordered food delivery, but more commonly may rear its ugly head when, contrary to the previous example, you weren’t the one who missed out on a promotion, but were the individual fortunate enough to receive it. Try not to let monetary promotions go to your head, or even worse, decide that because you’re now earning more money, that’s a great excuse to be less productive than usual. Finally, don’t let greed consume you so much that you stretch yourself thin and ultimately try to take on more than you can handle because you’re trying so hard to stand out at work. The more you try to manage at once, the more likely the quality of your work will go down. That could cause you to be distracted and make your boss wonder if someone else is more suited to the job.

Envy is closely tied to lust and unfortunately, it can drive a wedge between you and co-workers, especially if the feeling of envy is due to an inter-office relationship. It’s almost impossible to display an absence of emotion once someone else gets a reward you feel should have gone to you or is in a better situation romantically, unless you’re from another planet and not entirely human. However, feeling envious can also greatly reduce your productivity. Try to compromise and respect the person who’s making you envious. Perhaps you can learn something from him or her. Put yourself in a great position for being awarded the next promotion that’s on the horizon or project yourself in such a way so that everyone around the office sees you in a more appealing light.

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It’s natural to feel full of pride once your hard work has finally been recognized, but be careful not to spend so much of your time accepting congratulatory handshakes from colleagues that you let your work fall by the wayside. It’s also important to keep yourself grounded and not begin thinking that just because you’ve made headway at work, you’re too good to do certain tasks that may be boring or labor-intensive. When you show you’re willing to pitch in wherever’s necessary, that will prove to co-workers that you still see yourself as a person who’s on their level and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty even after getting some sort of recognition.

Wrath can be likened to a poisonous snakebite. Once it enters your body, it has a consuming effect that can weigh heavily on your mind and make it nearly impossible to do anything worthwhile. No matter what’s responsible for your feeling of wrathfulness, get to the heart of it as quickly as possible and replace that vile feeling with one of cheerfulness. Soon, your cheery disposition should translate into higher productivity.

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Gluttony - 7 Deadly Sins

    Gluttony and Slothfulness

    No matter how many cups of strong coffee or Five-Hour Energy shots you consume in an effort to boost your energy during a day that seems like it will never end, you can’t realistically expect to be champing at the bit to respond to every task at hand. It’s far better to aim for keeping your productivity at a steady level, rather than aiming for short-lived bursts of excellence. Giving it your all during small windows of time can quickly lead to burnout, which some might say is just one level below slothfulness, one of the Seven Deadly Sins and also an efficient productivity zapper.

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    Gluttony, the final sin of note, can become problematic if you think sitting at a desk all day means you don’t need to get up and move around a little. There can be a wide variety of things at work that cause you to feel more tempted to stay tethered to your workstation and be content to stuff your face with vending machine fare, but fight back against the temptation by doing things to keep yourself in shape even if you have a sedentary job. If you let your body become lazy, your mind could follow suit. By sliding into gluttony, your productivity could soon suffer.

    Now it should be clear how the Seven Deadly Sins relate to workplace productivity. These elements are staples of the Catholic faith and thought to cause eternal damnation for some. Although engaging in them at work probably won’t have such severe consequences, doing so isn’t likely to catch the attention of your boss in a way you’d prefer!

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

    The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

    Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

    In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

    When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

    Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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    1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

    When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

    As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

    That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

    The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

    What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

    Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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    There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

    So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

    2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

    When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

    No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

    3. Move Your Body

    A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

    It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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    So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

    4. Connect With Another Person

    Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

    One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

    Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

    5. Use Your Imagination

    When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

    That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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    And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

    Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

    Final Thoughts

    Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

    Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

    More on the Importance of Taking a Break

    Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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