What comes to mind when you think of productivity? What is productivity? Productivity is perhaps one of the most notorious subjects today’s world is obsessed with. And at any given moment we can search for advice and get snowed under tonnes of suggestions on how to increase productivity. So what do we do to boost productivity and have more time for what matters the most?
Charles Duhigg defines productivity as “making certain choices in certain ways” that moves us from being “merely busy” to “genuinely productive” in his book Smarter Faster Better. Another great approach to productivity focuses on ways we can systematize and better manage our lives so we can have more time to do what we want.
How to Boost Productivity: The Science-Based Guide
The Yerkes-Dodson Law Named after the US psychologists Robert Mearns Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson, who first proposed this in 1908 suggests that:
‘Human performance at any task varies with arousal in a predictable parabolic curve. At low arousal, people are lethargic and perform badly. As arousal increases, the performance also increases — but only to a point, after which increasing arousal actually decreases performance.’
In other words, anxiety is suitable up to a point!
This explains why I could never be productive if too comfortable environments. All those years of failing while trying to work on the bed, trying to shut myself in a library with no distractions or trying to answer emails from my couch suddenly make perfect sense.
Three Levels of Anxiety:
Low Level: this is the level at which we are not very motivated to do anything, whatever may be the reason. It could be that you are fatigued due to lack of sleep, or you are feeling sick, or a personal setback is holding you up.
Optimum Level: this is when the Level of stress is precisely at a point where it pushes you to do something. You are neither depressed nor frustrated. Instead, you are energized and focused, ready to get sh*t done!
High Level: this Level of stress generally leads to panic attacks, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes over a prolonged period.
Anywhere between 13–20 implies you are in the optimal level of arousal. Your stress levels are precisely where you need it to be to get the most out of yourself.
How Can Stress Lead to Better Productivity
Eustress — the term that psychologists have given to good stress. This is the stress you feel when you are excited and nervous about something. There is no fear, there are no demons, and there are no threats.
These are the butterflies in your stomach when you are getting ready to
Go on a date
On a stage to give a speech
Release your first book.
Unlike Distress, Eustress motivates instead of demotivating. It is short-term instead of long-term, and it keeps us feeling excited and motivated.
Stress and productivity go hand in hand. Stress drives productivity and is, therefore, necessary.
Proven Ways to Use Stress to Boost Productivity
Surround yourself with people better than you or more successful than you
Try to work with people who are smarter than you. Learn from experts wherever you can. Collaborate with them. Grow with them. The anxiety to show up and not let them down, will keep you on your toes and moving forward.
Benjamin Hardy did this by paying $1000 to Ryan Holiday for four monthly check-ins so that he can finish his book.
Up the stakes: There are a lot of ways to do this.
There are apps that you can use that deduct 5$ from your bank account every time you miss out on what you promised to do.
You can enter a challenge or a competition. Commit yourself
You can sign yourself up for an exam or a race to force yourself to prepare.
Put an incentive plan in place based on your progress — If I can hit the gym three times this week, I reward myself with ice cream on the last day of the week.
In short, I found a multiverse of ways to step outside of my comfort zone!
Explore your fears
Fear is the compass guiding you to your ideal future. Everything you ever want is going to be on the other side of that fear
Want to become a writer, but you are afraid of putting out your first post? The only way to do it is to start publishing your writing
Want to become a comedian but fearful that people will take offense? There is no other way to find out but to perform in front of people.
I feared to speak in public. So much so that I would have sleepless nights and sweaty morning on the day of the presentation! The only way to overcome it was to stand in front of people and talk as much as I could.
Re-evaluate your relationship with stress
In life, we must learn to manage our stress. The more we are on the good side of it, the more we can achieve.
Success brings a lot more of the productive anxiety with it because now you have set a standard that you must keep up with.
The stakes are now higher!
So, make stress, your friend. Learn to use it to your advantage. Check yourself every time you are stressed. Is it good or bad stress? Is it warranted? And if it is coming from the right place, control what you can. Use this stress to heighten your focus and do something that will reduce it.
Tiger Woods uses the stress of big tournaments to improve his game consistently.
Comedians use it to improve their routines.
CEOs use it to push their employees.
You can use it too to improve your performance and productivity, to challenge yourself, and to ultimately reach mastery in whatever it is that you are pursuing!