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Why Doing More Can Turn Into Unproductivity

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Why Doing More Can Turn Into Unproductivity


    There is a certain limit when performing an action, after which the action you take turns into unproductivity. This is happening mostly because of unrealistic deadlines and lack of planning — or goals that are not specific enough.

    If you work harder and longer days, you may get more done. At the same time there is a price to pay for this and in the worst case, that price may halt you down completely. Especially if you are not willing to change your working routines.

    The more you do, the more you stress out

    When you are pushing harder and trying to do more, you are going to be stressed out about the situation. The more stressed you are, the more difficult it becomes to cool down and recharge your batteries after your working session ends. You keep pondering about work matters when you are not working. In many cases, you wake up during the night, thinking and stressing about the work you have to finish.

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    Stress (the negative one) affects your health and well-being in a terrible manner. If you value your health and put it as a priority in your life, it is time to slow down the working pace.

    The quality of the action may be poor

    If you want to do more work, can you be sure that the quality of the actions you take won’t suffer?

    I have experienced this myself. When I did more stuff (and especially in a smaller block of time), I wasn’t able to concentrate enough on the task I was doing. This led to a situation where I had to go back and fix my work before my quality standards were met.

    When you work too much, ask yourself this question:

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    “Am I giving enough focus to my current task so that it gets done correctly the first time?”

    If you aren’t, then pay close attention to it, because otherwise you are increasing your already high workload. However, if you spend a little time on this question it will save your time in the long run.

    You may take the wrong action, because you don’t focus

    People often talk about taking massive action and why it is beneficial for reaching your goals. However, sometimes massive action can cause massive stress and frustration.

    This happens, when you are taking action for action’s own sake. However, if you knew the right type of massive action to take you would get much better results as a return, thus saving you from frustration.

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    In order to take the right type of massive action, you should have a clear idea where you are heading. After that, you should link your planned action steps to your goal and be absolutely certain that the action you are taking is essential for reaching that goal. When you take the focused (and right) massive action instead you are guaranteed to see results faster.

    You are running out of fuel

    There are two things that keep us going, even if we have a lot of work ahead of us: passion towards the topic and motivation for consistent action.

    The danger of working too much is that you are going to burn out these two crucial elements quickly. When this happens, you find work to be meaningless and you can’t find any reason to take action. Even if you know what your passion is but you don’t want to take action on it, you feel greatly frustrated and sad inside.

    To prevent this situation occurring you have to work to the right rhythm: reasonable-length working sessions combined with moments dedicated for mental and physical regeneration (exercise, sleep, meditation, etc.).

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    This keeps the motivational flame alive — and you are still excited to pursue your passion.

    Conclusion

    Doing more isn’t always for the best. Take a look at the above criteria and evaluate what you’ve got on your plate. Are you doing too much? Be honest with yourself and make any changes that you need.

    Then you can turn that unproductively back into productivity.

    (Photo credit: Mowing job via Shutterstock)

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    More by this author

    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Published on September 21, 2021

    How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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    How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

    The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

    In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

    1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

    Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

    But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

    Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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    Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

    Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

    While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

    Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

    2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

    At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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    Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

    Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

    Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

    McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

    From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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    3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

    An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

    McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

    Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

    Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

    Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

    So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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    The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

    If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

    Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

    Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

    Reference

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