4 Ways to Increase Your Productivity

4 Ways to Increase Your Productivity

Learn more about what productivity is and what you can do to maximize yours.

Productivity is something that matters immensely to most of us. We aim to be productive in our careers as well as in our personal lives. At the heart of our interest in productivity is the desire to get the most out of life. Whether we are trying to maximize our wealth and possessions or the number of meaningful experiences we have in our lives, living a productive life seems like a good way to go about it.

Productivity is thought to be a multidimensional term with definitions that vary by context (Tangen, 2005). In the context of industry, productivity might be understood as the ratio of what is produced to the resources required to produce it (Hill, 1993) or the capacity to satisfy the needs of the market for goods and services while consuming minimal resources (Moseng & Rostaldas, 2001). In the context of how we typically use the term in our everyday lives, productivity might be better understood as performing our necessary or desired tasks efficiently and effectively.

Why Productivity Is Important

We live in an era of nearly limitless information and opportunity, referred to by scholars as the information age. The information age provides a wealth of opportunities that would be incomprehensible to someone living only 100 years ago. This extraordinary potentiality also places an extraordinary number of demands on our time and attention, limiting our ability to actually experience many of the infinite possibilities. Maximizing our productivity is one possible solution to the conundrum of ‘so much to do and so little time to do it.’ In other words, productivity is important because it allows us to experience more.

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
― Bruce Lee

Productivity Tips

The ways in which we can improve our productivity aren’t necessarily obvious. Often, we think that improving productivity just means “work harder.” Working harder, however, can actually be the last thing we want to do if we want to improve our productivity. Here are a few things to try if you want to improve your productivity:

Take breaks

It might seem counterintuitive to say that in order to increase productivity you need to stop working more. However, studies have shown that taking breaks increases productivity by reducing stress and improving mood (Fritz et al., 2013).

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries around when you work and how much you do is also an effective way to improve your productivity. Being able to say no helps protect you from burnout and maintain sufficient time for rest and recovery.

Set small goals

Massive, complex goals can feel overwhelming, which may lead to diminished motivation and productivity. The course of action needed to achieve small goals is usually better defined and the goal itself is more attainable (Latham & Seijts, 1999), both of which are important for productivity.

Plan your days ahead of time

Having a clear, concise daily plan or weekly plan is an excellent way to improve productivity. It provides both the small goals mentioned above and increases the likelihood that you will decide against engaging in less productive activities.

In Sum

Productivity is something many of us are regularly seeking to improve. The reasons behind our desire for productivity may be varied, but the strategies for enhancing productivity are the same. Simple steps such as creating a designated workspace, setting small short-term goals, and taking more breaks could be the key to improving our productivity and allowing us to do more of the things we want to do. It is important to note that, although our society places great value on productivity and there are certainly benefits to improving productivity, it’s okay to not always be productive. For many of us, it’s hard to accept those days when we struggle to get out of bed or get off the couch without deriding ourselves, perhaps calling ourselves lazy or defining ourselves with other unkind adjectives. But a life needn’t be maximally full to be a good one. Remember, productivity is personal and it’s good to take some time off.


● Fritz, C., Ellis, A. M., Demsky, C. A., Lin, B. C., & Guros, F. (2013). Embracing work breaks. Organizational Dynamics, 42(4), 274-280.

● Hill, T. (1993), Manufacturing Strategy: The Strategic Management of the Manufacturing Function, 2nd ed., Open University/Macmillan, London.

● Latham, G. P., & Seijts, G. H. (1999). The effects of proximal and distal goals on performance on a moderately complex task. Journal of Organizational Behavior: The International Journal of Industrial, Occupational and Organizational Psychology and Behavior, 20(4), 421-429.

● Moseng, B. and Rolstada ̊s, A. (2001), “Success factors in the productivity process”, 10th World Productivity Congress.

● Tangen, S. (2005). Demystifying productivity and performance. International Journal of Productivity and performance management