More Work Doesn’t Equal More Productivity
According to the American Dream Project, the average American works between 43 and 51 hours per week. That’s a lot of hours! One key question to consider as you plan your own workweek is, are you getting the best productivity from your work schedule? Does working extra hours actually make us more productive?
The truth is, it doesn’t. In fact, the United States is ranked 5th in productivity behind countries like Norway, Belgium, and Ireland. Yet people in those countries work fewer hours than we do. So, how do we make our working hours more productive?
Work Time Versus Productive Time
Here are some interesting facts to consider:
- The average person is only productive 5 hours a day, yet our average workday is 8 hours, or more!
- Fewer people take breaks and vacations than ever before, which means people spend more time working than in past decades.
- Working more means feeling more exhausted, which also decreases productivity.
Why Do We Work So Much?
North Americans tend to have a higher living standard than some other countries. A lot of this comes from convenience spending, which is largely driven by our long workdays. But having more things and having easier access to food and entertainment don’t actually promote happier or more productive lives.
Instead, those things can be a kind of escapism. We work hard, we’re tired, so we buy ourselves a treat—a fancy prepared dinner or a new outfit—rather than treating our bodies and minds to the things we really need, like rest and companionship.
Happiness Equals Productivity
Want to know how you can maximize your productivity while decreasing your stress? The answer might surprise you. Happiness!
Taking time to invest in your happiness has a significant impact on your productivity at work. According to the Great Place to Work Institute, the companies with the happiest employees are also the most productive. Happy people have more energy, are more resilient, and suffer from fewer health problems.
In other words, taking regular breaks and limiting your work time so that you allow yourself to rest and spend time with people you love actually makes you a better, more productive worker.
Try This For Increased Productivity
Set a timer on your phone to remind you to take regular breaks at work. While on your break, go outside and take deep breaths. Focus on a distant object or building to let your eyes rest, especially if you work on a computer. Listen to a favorite song or watch a funny video on YouTube. Get your mind away from your work for a few minutes.
When you return to work, notice how your body feels. Do you feel more awake? Do you have more energy? Is your focus sharper?
More on Breaks and Happiness
For more information on how to improve your productivity by using breaks and managing your time to boost happiness in your life, check out chapters 15 “Take a Break: Life is Not a Race
” and 17 “Time: Harness Your Most Precious Resource
” of my book, 21 Days to Happiness
. Each chapter takes just a few minutes to read and focuses on one key happiness habit to help you achieve greater happiness, energy and productivity in your life.
Business Psychologist/Happiness Expert