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The Inconspicuous Reason You May Be Struggling With Productivity At Work

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Man looking unfocused while at work.

It’s not uncommon to feel unmotivated or unproductive at work, especially when dealing with everyday stress, a poor sleep schedule or an insurmountable workload. However, as health and habits expert Colby Kultgen suggested in a recent Instagram post, we don’t always need to be “working harder” to increase our productivity.

The health and habits expert revealed that ‘working harder’ isn’t always the best way to increase productivity at work. 

“Working hard feels productive,” he added, “but, it can be deceptive.” 

Whether we like to admit it or not, the exhaustion, burnout, and laziness keeping us from performing our best at work is probably a product of our own habits. Simply “working harder” won’t make us perform any better in the long run.

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Kultgen claimed that productivity is inherently linked with our habits — but which ones are keeping us from success while on the job? 

Everything from workplace culture to extensive workloads to organization practices can influence our productivity, but stigmas surrounding “hustle culture” often lead to burnt-out employees with poor (and ultimately, ineffective) habits. 

Many people associate working harder with longer hours and spending more time logged on or in the office doing work. However, the truth is that studies reveal this tendency is ineffective in actually fostering healthy change, meaning it’s essential to adopt other practices. 

Studies show that people working longer hours are less productive than their coworkers with a more ‘typical’ schedule. 

A 2014 Stanford study on work habits revealed that productivity takes a negative plunge when an employee works for more than 50 hours a week. When that time frame exceeds 55 hours, productivity decreases to a point that essentially makes overtime hours useless. 

   

   

So, if you’re spending an extra few hours at the office, it might not be benefiting you as much as you think. Not only is it taking away from personal time, sleep, and productivity, but it’s also giving you a reason to resent work, making things worse.

Of course, some workloads require a bit of extra time here and there, but, for those that can, it’s important to set boundaries that separate your personal life from work

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Experts say ‘overachievers’ excel, without working absurd hours, by using three main tactics during the workday. 

Your workload isn’t going away, so how can you cultivate healthy habits that help you to make the most of your time while you’re at work? Whether it’s four hours or eight, Kultgen’s tips for increasing productivity will make you feel better than ever on the job.

“The world’s elite don’t necessarily work harder than everyone else,” Kultgen claimed. “They just do a few things right.” 

Instead of focusing on longevity and finding extra hours to work, these people focus on “consistency over intensity” — utilizing time-blocking strategies, organizational frameworks, and tips that help them stay focused over a chunk of time. 

While there are several different forms of time-blocking, many people use a basic version to plan out their day in chunks of time. Write down a list of your top priorities for the day, focusing on the most important and "needle-moving tasks" first. Then, add these tasks to your calendar, ensuring you give yourself appropriate time to both complete them and take quick breaks. Do your best to stick to the assigned task, rather than switching. 

Commitment to this technique, removal of distractions, and confidence at work can help to promote the productivity that you seek, without adding extra hours to the end of your day. According to Kultgen, "The key here is undisturbed [time]."

In our culture, it’s all too easy to be swept up into the narrative that “hard work” pays off, even when it’s to the detriment of your own well-being. Instead, focus on what makes you feel happy, healthy, and secure — because that’s when you’ll do your best work

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories.