Study: Being busy can ruin your workday
Do a little less in your day if you want to do a little more.
A pretty cool study came out recently that yielded the interesting fact that doing less can actually increase your productivity.
Basically, you stretch yourself too thin, and the work as a whole suffers. Sure, you might be doing 59 different things in a day, but you'll have a tendency to make more mistakes and not be able to focus.
How does this actually work? You do what the study itself calls "contracting time.":
Consumers often organize their time by scheduling various tasks, but also leave some time unaccounted. The authors examine whether ending an interval of unaccounted time with an upcoming task systematically alters how this time is perceived and consumed. Eight studies conducted both in the lab and field show that bounded intervals of time (e.g., an hour before a scheduled meeting) feel prospectively shorter than unbounded intervals of time (e.g., an hour with nothing scheduled subsequently).
Over the course of two years, researchers from the Olin School of Business, the Fisher College of Business, and the Washington University of St Louis conducted 8 wide-ranging tests. One of the tests, I think, is especially fascinating: 158 college students were put in 2 groups, one told that they had "about five minutes to do whatever you want" before an implied appointment and the other told that they had exactly five minutes. Interestingly, those who were not under the clock performed 2.38 tasks to the hurried group's 1.86 tasks. The mere suggestion of time constraints can result in less actually getting done.
One of the researchers, Professor Stephen Nowlis, doesn't suggest that you use study this as a means to slack off. On the contrary, he suggests using your time wisely:
“If you have some big tasks, too many scheduled things will affect your productivity. A lot of scheduling is fine for shorter tasks. So find the environment that works for you.”
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
We take fewer mental pictures per second.
- Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
- In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
- The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
In the face of seemingly unstoppable gun violence, Americans could stand to gain by looking to the Swiss.
- According to a recent study, the U.S. had the second highest number of gun-related deaths in 2016 after Brazil.
- Like the U.S., Switzerland has a high rate of gun ownership. However, it has a considerably lower rate of deaths from gun violence.
- Though pro-gun advocates point to Switzerland as an example of how gun ownership doesn't have to correlate with mass shootings, Switzerland has very different regulations, practices, and policies related to guns than America.
It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.