Be Productive, Feed your Efficiency
Updated: Jan 19
We are continuously under high stress when it comes to how well we can perform and how much we can produce. We often relate the terms “productivity” and “efficiency.” However, these two terms have two different meanings and values when it comes to your work and the tasks you need to perform.
Productivity vs. Efficiency?
When I did a quick search for the definition of productivity, I was overwhelmed with the options: “Productivity: in business, in biology, in economics, in operation management, etc.” However, what I was really looking for was a simple definition of productivity for daily life. So let's stick to the basics; according to the Cambridge Dictionary, productivity means the “rate at which a person, company, or country does useful work” or “the ability to do as much work as possible in a particular period.” In other words, how many lemonades can you make in half an hour?
Similarly, efficiency is something that we all strive for and we are constantly thinking about. Efficiency is so ingrained in our minds that it is not only about how efficient you are at work, but also in your personal life. Sometimes we even make it a competition with others or with ourselves to find the most efficient way to work, to cook, to drive, or even to organize your clothes. Why is that? Because as humans, we don’t like wasting time, energy, or resources. The Cambridge Dictionary defines efficiency as the “good use of time and energy in a way that does not waste any.” So what does this mean when we need to make lemonade in half an hour? It means that you are not wasting time cutting the lemons or end up feeling like you just finished a pro-athlete arm workout after squeezing them.
The Impacts of Stress
When we are feeling stressed, being productive and efficient at work is a huge challenge. As you may have experienced, concentration is harder, sitting down for long periods of time becomes a hustle and sometimes we can’t even complete the easiest tasks in the normal amount of time. What I will be sharing with you below may not be a magic wand to help you stay productive and efficient when you feel stressed, but if you give them a chance, they might become your secret weapons to help you perform better while you manage your workplace stress.
Before we get to it, a word of advice…take some time to try these solutions when you are not feeling stressed. Just like any new toy, you need time to learn how it works before you can play with it and enjoy it.
Secret Weapon #1 - Voice Typing
When I am stressed: I often have difficulty writing my thoughts... I’ve always been better at talking than writing….I wish I had someone typing for me.
If you can relate to the statements above, then you should definitely try a voice typing software when it comes to writing. When we are stressed, our mind is going way faster than our fingers can move. On average, the typing speed is 40 WPM, but a good and productive typing speed is around 70 WPM . However, when it comes to dictating, we can probably double or triple that typing speed.
Voice typing software lets you dictate your thoughts while the software types for you. There are lots of voice typing softwares out there, but the best thing is that your computer probably already has one built in that you can use for free. Try out this software next time you are struggling to write down your thoughts. You can use it while sitting, standing, or if you have a good pair of bluetooth headphones with a mic, you can even walk around if that helps you keep your mind from wandering.
Note: This technology is not 100% accurate and it may not work for everyone.
Secret Weapon #2 - Text to Speech
I fall asleep when reading long articles or reports…. I get distracted easily and end up reading the same sentence multiple times… I prefer podcasts or audio books.
When you find that it is hard to focus on long text or even short, sometimes it helps when you read out loud. If you think about it, when you read with your eyes, but also listen to yourself or someone else reading to you, you are using two senses to absorb the information and your brain tends to hold focus for long periods of time. Most of the time we are not in an environment where we can read out loud, this is when text to speech software comes in handy. Just plug in your headphones and listen in. Most computers also have text to speech built in that you can use for free. It might not work with all your documents, but it is worth trying it when you find your mind and eyes wandering away from the text.
Secret Weapon #3 - Mind Mapping
I always have a million ideas but find it hard to narrow down priorities….my thoughts are always scrambled in my head…. I don’t know what is the best way to present my ideas.
When we are stressed, we have a million things in our minds and it is harder for us to decide what to do first or what is more important. Mind Maps are a great way to think outside the box and tackle your stress with a different approach. Mind Maps naturally combine both the left-brain, the structured side, and right-brain, the creative side. When you create a mind map it provides a unique way to escape your external pressures, allow you to clear your mind and sort through the noise in your head. When you have work notes scattered around your desk or on your computer you may feel overwhelmed. Creating a mind map helps you gather these ideas in one dynamic place and helps you clear your mind and your desk. We like to feel in control of our thoughts, so by organizing your thoughts into something meaningful and engaging, like a mind map, we can feel in control. Sometimes mind maps can get complicated, but you can always break them down and tackle one section at a time.
So if you're looking to improve your productivity in your work or life, try adding one or some of these secret weapons to your stress toolkit, and feed your efficiency for those tough days when stress is getting the best of you.