Productivity has been a goal in the workplace and out for decades, tracing its origins as far back as the beginning of the 20th century. But what does productivity really mean for offices and for individuals? How has this concept morphed to form our understanding and application today?
Change in Concern
Once a responsibility held by the employer, bosses would ponder questions of how to propel workers to greater efficiencies and prompt improved workflow. But a shift in concern has changed the typical hierarchy of productivity in recent years. Now, workers themselves have begun to take an interest in their own productivity, in how they do their own jobs and how they perceive their output of work.
The truth of this change can be seen in the number of productivity tips and apps that are rising in popularity, offering greater working efficiency to anyone who wishes to read. And it’s no longer the supervisors who are taking on these suggestions. Employees themselves are experiencing greater control over working habits, and are choosing to be productive in order to feel good.
Productivity tips often take the form of organizational strategies and streamlining plans, leading people to strive toward a system of neat efficiency. Some experts believe that even reading advice on how to be productive can make people feel good.
Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, a writer on the self-help industry, told the New York Times’ Op-Talk that productivity tips had a lot in common with self-help. Discussing the productivity system as a rebranding of common sense, she said, “The promised efficiency seems to me like a secondary function of this advice. The primary function is emotional.” By spending time exploring ways to improve, individuals feel well on their way already.
An indirect aspect of the focus on productivity could become a disappearance of social interaction from your life. Certain productivity apps include ways to block people during your day, providing a protected zone for you to work in. However some experts believe this is unrealistic. Instead, productive-minded workers should find ways to work with human distraction, like others around you, rather than simply shut colleagues out.
Ultimately, investing your time in things that are important to you will help yield results in the way that you spend your time. If companies in turn improve job protections and work environments, the combined focus on efficiency and quality can result in better work and personal lives, encouraging a collective atmosphere of productivity, rather than an individual burden.
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