Chip Cutter, an editor and blogger at LinkedIn, addresses the ever present issue of time management on a professional level in his article “A Harvard Economist’s Surprisingly Simple Productivity Secret. This time shortage stretches across income ranges– from workers to busy managers.
Cutter turns to Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan for answers. Mullainathan suggests that the problem lies not with sheer amount of time but with one’s mental “bandwidth”, their focal power. What Mullaibathan discovered through his research with scarcity, is that shortages (be it in money, time, or food) cause people to make bad choices. Cutter compares this reaction to thirst. When you are thirsty, you find it hard to focus on anything other than that need. The same philosophy applies to time.
Mullainathin found a boost in his own productivity when he dropped his cell phone in a toilet and was able to spend quality time with his friends. He began disconnecting his work email from his cell phone so that he could become more focused on tasks in the moment. That way he cold be fully present for a meetings, meals, or other interactions both personally and professionally.
A last example of the importance of quality of time rather than amount of time occurs in the famous automaker, Henry Ford. By increasing his employees work hours from 40 to 60, he saw a productivity boost. However, that boost only lasted for four short weeks, after which the 60 hour workers began producing less than those who worked 40 hours.
So there you have it, Mullainathan’s simple secret to boosting productivity and time management – focus.
Test this productivity secret out in your business. Let me know how it works for you and your team. If you have questions about it or success stories to share, please add to the discussion using the comment fields below.