Enjoy Wellness

Be More Productive by Saying Yes to Less

Erinn Bucklan  |  November 15, 2019

Life is busy, and at times, it can feel overwhelming. Learn how saying yes to less can actually make you feel better and be more productive.

Our culture applauds those who work hard. Putting in 10, 12 hours a day at the office or running a household can be typical — and exhausting. And sometimes, there’s so much to do between home and your career that it’s overwhelming. We’re saying yes to meeting tight deadlines. Yes to making dinner. Yes to doing one more load of laundry. Yes to making cupcakes for your nephew’s birthday party. 

But is our overly stressful pace actually causing us to do … less? With so many items on our plate, we can end up being less productive than if we had fewer things to do.

Researchers have found that those who take more breaks and take on fewer responsibilities may actually have the upper hand in being more productive. But how do we scale back our busy lifestyle and get more done at home and in the office?

Stop Overcommitting Yourself

When you’re juggling too much and about to kick yourself for not being able to do it all, take a step back and examine your commitments. Dr. Susan Biali, physician, life coach and author of “Live a Life You Love,” offered this advice: When you say yes to one thing, turn right around and say no to something else on your to-do list. There are only a certain number of hours in the day to accomplish things, so it’s impossible to do it all. 

And don’t be too hard on yourself. Trim back your to-do list and you’ll discover that the tasks you do are getting even better results.

Step Away from Your Desk

Turn off your phone and go for a walk outside. Or schedule a class at that new yoga studio you’ve been wanting to check out. There are numerous studies that have shown how physical activity improves our mental health. What boss wouldn’t want you to have a better attention span and mental clarity. Yes, you now have a scientifically backed excuse for abandoning your desk for the sake of better (yes, better) job performance. 

Get Realistic About Time 

Ask me if the glass is half empty, and I’ll say it looks half full. Ask me to do you a favor, and I’ll figure out a way to fit it into my day. So, what’s the problem? My optimism in thinking there is plenty of time to get everything done is actually making me less productive. I’m constantly racing against the clock to get things done. In other words, I have an unrealistic sense of just how long it will take me to do things. 

Being more realistic about what you can get done in a day will help you be more organized. And being more organized will make you more productive — and less stressed.

Clean Up Your Physical Workspace

We all need to Marie Kondo our life a little bit — and that includes your workspace. Your visual environment can impact how efficiently your brain processes work. So that clutter on your desk can make it more difficult for you to focus on work. Even if you just clean up a single drawer, you’ll feel accomplished and ready to take on another task. 

Take time to Doodle or Daydream

Say yes to taking a break from your spreadsheets and documents in favor of a creative break. Pick up a pencil and just draw or doodle. Next time you’re at the store, pick up an adult coloring book. 

Switching tasks, even if it’s just to daydream, can help improve your productivity. 

Limit Socializing With Colleagues

It’s really a gift to be able to work with people you get along with. But are long lunches and coffee breaks with your work friends bringing down your productivity? 

To get the message out to colleagues that you’re busy, update your status on Slack or whatever messaging system you use. A simple “In a meeting” status will let your friends know you’re in the office but can’t hang right now. 

Take a Vacation

Have vacation days piling up? Use them! Americans are notorious for not using their vacation time. The typical worker only uses an average of 17.4 days of paid time off.

Taking time off from work helps us reset mentally. You’re able to come back to work refreshed and ready to take on projects with more passion.

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