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Warning: Productivity Ahead!

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By Janet Koch, Community Development Director

I’m a sucker for articles titled “How to Increase Your Productivity” or “Raise Your Efficiency in Ten Easy Steps.” There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I’d like to get done and every little bit helps, right?

Multitasking can be seen as part of the solution, but there’s always that question: Does simultaneously working on multiple projects increase efficiency, or does it cause more confusion and distraction? A 2012 article, “Information, Technology, and Information Worker Productivity,” from the journal Information Systems Research, notes that multitasking does increase productivity—but only up to a point. If the tasks that you’re trying to accomplish are similar, your efficiency could well go up. If the tasks are vastly different, however, it’s possible that you’re going to get what you want least; a decrease in productivity.

But how do we do that? How do we group tasks? A January 2018 TED-Ed lesson by Brian Christian suggests that one key to increased productivity is minimizing interruptions. Yes, there’s only so much we can do to avoid being interrupted, but what most of us do have control over is how often we check email. I have a regrettable tendency to check email when I pause in the middle of a task…and next thing I know I’m in the middle of a completely different project. Clearly, this is not ideal for maximum productivity. [Fun fact: Brian Christian’s lesson is available on YouTube – it’s only five minutes long.]

Here’s what I’m going to try: resisting the siren call of my email’s inbox. Even as I write this sentence I can hear it whispering; Check me. It’ll only take a minute. C’mon, just do it. But I’m going to see what happens when I check email a maximum of once an hour. If that works, maybe I’ll try every other hour. In a few months, I’ll report back and let you know how it went.

And please consider sending me your favorite productivity/efficiency tips. I would love to read—and try—them. Who knows, they just might show up in a future article!

Core Partners