Someday, a team of scientists will discover that the single biggest office time waster is talking about ways to increase productivity. But until then, we’re grateful to the experts at Lifehacker, who have debunked some of our least-favorite myths.
Blogger Alan Henry has rounded up seven bits of useless productivity advice, but our three favorite are:
1. You Have to Get Up Early to Accomplish Anything
Go ahead and sleep in. A study in the journal Thinking & Reasoning shows that productive people work during the hours that are best for them. So if your best work happens at 2 a.m., know yourself and don’t fight nature.
2. The Internet Is Making Us Stupid
Much has been made in recent years of the dumbing-down effect of the internet, but the problem isn’t having access to so much information, Henry says, it’s how we use it. The fact that we tend not to memorize things we can easily look up isn’t stupid; it’s smart. He quotes Einstein, who, when asked to recite the speed of sound, said, “[I do not] carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books.” If we can control how and when we use the internet, we don’t need to disengage from it entirely during work.
3. You Can’t Get Real Work Done at Home, or at Starbucks
There are two misconceptions here: one is that people won’t work unless someone is standing over them, and the other is that people can’t work away from the structure of an office.
The first part of the myth was debunked by researchers at Stanford, who examined 500 employees at a 1200 person firm, and found that employees who worked from home were actually more productive than their desk-bound colleagues. The second part was examined by the Journal of Consumer Research, which concluded that the type of noise matters.
“Mild, ambient noise — like the din of a coffee shop, makes us more productive,” Henry writes. “Too much noise — like the furor at a busy office, for example, (especially one with open-air cubicles) can be a productivity killer, but working from home or a mildly buzzing public space can do wonders for our work.”
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