If we can find a way to become positive in the present, our brains work more successfully. We're able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.
Shawn Achor, Positive Psychologist.
Do hard work and success bring happiness? Or is it the other way around?
Studies suggest that we are at least 12 per cent more productive when we are happy.
This makes sense when you flip it and consider how hard it is to get things done when you're miserable. A flat, grouchy day comes hand in hand with that leaden unproductive feeling. By the end of the day we're crankier when we realise that the day has disappeared and nothing is done!
When we're feeling good we bounce from task to task, satisfied with our achievements. This boosts our mood further and we get more done. It's an upward spiral of happiness and productivity.
We are also more creative when we're happy. We explore new ideas. We experiment, test our skills and conjure up novel plans. We build on these and grow and develop - personally and professionally.
Tips to stay positive and productive.
When you've got a lot to do it's easy to put on your serious, 'I've got a lot to do today' face. You write lists. You hunker down at your desk or dash about in your car, heads down, getting stuff done. At work your manager might remind you of deadlines and the consequences of not getting all the important things done.
I've worked on projects with large, looming deadlines and stressed managers. We'd hole up in windowless offices for hours and hours, week on and week, heads down, meals at our desks. We'd convene for progress meetings that raised communal anxiety and increase the pressure to meet milestones and delivery dates.
We moved from desk to meeting room or as far as the kitchen to forage for coffee or snacks. We focused entirely on schedules and task lists and conversation was limited to what had to be done by whom, and when.
As professionals there was a certain satisfaction in working hard towards a goal but were we happy? No.
Busy might be socially desirable but busy is not always productive. Happy, on the other hand, can be both.
So here are three easy ways to be happier and get more done.
1. Get up, get out and move. You don't need to don Lycra and go for a run. Just make the effort to leave your desk once a day and take a walk. Walk to get your lunch, walk around the block. Maybe walk to a local cafe with your laptop, work there for an hour then walk back?
Physical activity is linked to mental health, wellbeing, happiness and productivity,
2. Take mindful moments. If you feel your attention or productivity lagging, sit or stand still for a moment, straighten your back, close your eyes, take a deep breath, check for areas of discomfort in your body, relax your muscles and just focus on two or three breaths. You'll feel recharged and ready to get going again.
3. Say thanks. Something as simple as saying 'thank you' has been shown to increase self-confidence and self-worth, improve trust, improve working relationships and generally just make work a happier and more positive place. The flow on effect is a lot of buzzier, busier bees. If you work from home or work alone, take time out to thank yourself or thank a colleague who helps you out. It's fast, it's free and it works.