The Myth Behind 5 Productivity Myths

David Spence
January 30th, 2014

One Size Fits All? Not When It Comes to Productivity

1. Work at the Time That’s Best for You

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” goes the saying by Benjamin Franklin. (And supposedly, the early bird also gets the worm). However, some people just don’t work at their best in the morning hours. So rather than trying to conform to another person’s schedule and tiring yourself out in the process, plan to barrel through your projects whenever you feel most productive—be it morning, noon, or night.

2. Take a Break If You’re Hitting a Wall. (Or Maybe Don’t)

Though “powering through it” seems to be a less and less common tip among productivity gurus these days, Henry still includes it in his list of productivity myths. Of course, you’re probably familiar with advice that when you’re feeling burned out, you should take a break. Henry agrees with this. On the other hand, productivity blogger Laura Stack points out that sometimes, powering through it just by giving yourself fifteen minutes to get started can indeed get the ball rolling when you feel stuck. Again, one size doesn’t fit all.

3. Multiple Monitors Aren’t Useful for Everyone

Some studies in years past have claimed that a larger computer display is key to more productivity at the office. However, due to the then-higher price tags of large-display computers, these claims were marketed by insisting more monitors—which, according to a Microsoft study , does technically equate to more display space—will result in a higher quality of work.

Henry says that multiple monitors can help productivity, but it depends on your field of work. If you need to run several programs simultaneously, multiple monitors are the way to go. If you don’t, however, it may be better to opt with one monitor that has a large display, now that they’re more affordable.

4. Remote Working Can Work Out For Some

Working out of the office has been effective for some. A Stanford University study surveyed 12,000 workers for a travel agency in China, examining their productivity when they were allowed to work from home; it increased in only a span of a few weeks. The December 2012 issue of The Journal of Consumer Research published a study saying that “mild ambient noise—like the din of the coffee shop makes us more productive.” Yet some people aren’t always more productive working from home, and if Yahoo! is to be believed, banning remote working has done wonders for the company.

5. The Internet Isn’t Always the Enemy of Productivity

Henry’s point here is a bit muddled. In the original article, he addresses the myth that “The Internet/Information Overload Is Making Us Stupid, So Disconnect to Get Things Done.” However, he doesn’t draw the clearest line between “getting things done” and using the Internet. He discusses the concerns that, with all the information so easily available to us on the web, we won’t remember the information we seek—we’ll simply look it up when we need it again—and possibly absorb the wrong information altogether.

Henry argues that even Einstein had to consult books for certain facts. As for wrong information, it’s up to users to research well enough to know they’re getting the facts right, rather than shun the Internet altogether for leading them down the path of misinformation. His argument could have been so much simpler had he just pointed out that the Internet has been found to help people “get things done.” A study conducted by the National University of Singapore reports that “the Internet serves an important restorative function,” letting workers seek what they like and introducing some more leisure into their work day.

So there you have it—productivity examined from both sides of the fence. Whether you’re trying to become a more productive facilities manager yourself, or trying to encourage a more productive atmosphere for your coworkers, the best thing to do is try several methods, see what works for you, and remember that different things will work for different people.


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