How does our productivity, time management, and ability to focus at work, influence our work-life balance and improve our happiness?
Emma Seppala (author of The Happiness Track) draws upon research that shows when we prioritise happiness, we are more productive, more creative, more resilient, more energised, more charismatic and more influential. Compelling!
But, no matter how much yoga we do or how much enjoyable social time we have, this happiness doesn’t mean our lives are balanced and stress free. For example, leaving the office on time every day knowing there is a pile of overdue work doesn’t help us relax and be present in our personal lives. So, if we only prioritise happiness, this is likely to create regret and stress about the things we haven’t done. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn explains that at some point we need to choose whether the pain of regret will be greater than the pain of discipline.
So, could it be that we need to do both? Could we best enjoy work-life balance when we are both disciplined and effective at work while also prioritising our happiness? And how do you begin this process?
To begin the positive cycle towards work-life balance, here are seven productivity tips to increase your work output. These will in turn decrease work stress, provide more time in your day and promote the balance that increases your happiness.
7 Productivity Tips to Save The Day
Minimise email distraction.
Our email inbox is one of the most inefficient work channels because it is distracting, encourages multitasking and procrastination. I also wrote about seven practical ways to stay out of your inbox.
Quarantine time away from interruptions to work on priority tasks.
Start with small chunks of time; 45-90 minutes. Working away from our desk in an open-plan office (a meeting room, café, library, a hotel lobby, home or even a comfortable park bench) can be the most effective way to remove external distractions. Remember to turn your phone to flight mode (or at least to silent) and stay out of your emails! Enjoy the space, focus, and satisfaction of accomplishing quality work!
Eat that frog!
Completing our most important tasks early in the day is empowering, energising and removes the distracting thoughts and fatigue that come with worrying about what we are not doing. We tend to have greater self-discipline and focus first thing in the day, and it is a great time to apply the previous point!
Schedule meetings strategically.
Scheduling meetings late morning and early afternoon ensures we can use our most productive time of the day to complete quality work and have time to close out our day effectively and leave on time!
Take a lunch break.
Taking a break provides an opportunity for our brains to recuperate! Time in nature (the local park qualifies), natural light, fresh air and exercise all help to refresh our attention span and return to work with renewed focus.
Meditate at lunchtime.
The science is clear – regular practice of mindfulness and meditation can positively change the grey matter of our brains and increases our capacity to concentrate and get more done in the same amount of time. Creating the discipline of meditating at lunchtime ensures the added benefit of a break. I like to stack multiple strategies by heading to a park, sitting with my back against a tree, popping in my earphones and listening to a guided meditation from the Smiling Mind app.
Have a shutdown ritual.
OK, so we have been disciplined, worked ‘smarter’ and are now ready to leave the office on time. Tick off your end-of-day checklist, prioritise the next day’s tasks and record incomplete work and next steps in a trusted to-do list. This will ensure distracting thoughts and work stresses don’t bubble up throughout the evening to erode the work-life balance you have created.
Remember, it’s up to you to create balance in your life. Being disciplined at work will not only make you more effective and efficient, it will provide you with more time and space to increase your personal happiness.