Why is it More Productive to be Positive
You might have heard claims that maintaining a more positive attitude can help you get more done every day, or improve your professional life. But are these claims really true?
Obviously, this is a hard question to answer. What “counts” as a positive attitude can be somewhat nebulous, and it’s hard to measure changes in productivity in response to such subtle, subjective improvements. But generally speaking, is there any truth to the apparent wisdom that positive attitudes make you more productive?
The Preliminary Evidence
Let’s start by looking at some of the hard evidence. In one study, led by positive psychology researcher Barbara Frederickson, five groups of participants were separated and exposed to video clips presenting different types of emotions.
Two groups viewed clips with positive emotions, two groups viewed clips with negative emotions, and one group served as a control. After watching the clips, participants were asked to imagine themselves in similar situations, then find solutions to a number of problems. Participants who imagined themselves in positive situations provided significantly more solutions.
One comprehensive study from Jessica Pryce-Jones and the iOpener Institute found that the happiest employees were at least twice as productive as their counterparts, were six times as energetic, and took only 10 percent of the sick leave of their least happy counterparts. Obviously, happiness may not correlate exactly with a “positive attitude,” but it certainly seems promising.
Why a Positive Attitude Aids Productivity
There are a few main reasons why a positive attitude could make someone more productive. For this exploration, let’s assume a “positive attitude” means someone tends to see the world optimistically, and think happier thoughts than a neutral or negative counterpart.
Stress management. Some research suggests that our reaction to stress, rather than stress itself, is what produces the negative effects we associate with stress. In other words, if you see stress as a terrible, destructive force, you’re more likely to experience the negative effects of stress than if you see it as challenging and empowering. With a positive attitude, you see challenges as opportunities, rather than obstacles. You see competition as exciting, rather than inhibiting. Overall, stress hurts you less, and you’re more likely to succeed in the face of it.
Positivity also makes you a better collaborator. With an open, positive mindset, you’re more willing to work with other people, and you’re much more tolerant of other people’s ideas. If your work relies on team interactions, this can be huge for your productivity.
Job enjoyment. This is a relationship that could work both ways. If you stay positive, you’ll be more likely to genuinely enjoy your job, and if you genuinely enjoy your job, you’ll be more likely to feel positive. This results in a feedback loop that keeps you energetic and focused, even during your worst days. And research has shown that satisfied employees are more productive.
Relationships and social support. People love to be around positive people. If you have a consistent, outward-facing positive attitude, people will gravitate toward you. You’ll have a much easier time managing your professional relationships, and you’ll have more social support from your peers. This can-do wonders for your overall productivity.
Physical health. Many studies have suggested that people with positive attitudes tend to be healthier than their counterparts. Why? That’s a little harder to explain, but the correlation seems clear. Optimists tend to be more resilient to various types of diseases, they have lower blood pressure, better weight control, and are less susceptible to heart disease. They also, unsurprisingly, have longer lifespans. If you keep a positive attitude, you should remain in good physical health—or at least better physical health than your peers. That means fewer sick days, more focus, and more productivity.
Improving Your Attitude
All that’s left, then, is to improve your attitude to be more positive overall. If you’re a natural pessimist, you may find this exceedingly difficult. Fortunately, there are several exercises that can help you, including:
Mindfulness meditation forces us to be in the present moment, letting go of distracting thoughts and old emotions. It’s a great way to reduce your stress and negative reactions.
Spend more time thinking about, talking about, and writing down the things you appreciate most in your life and in your job. You’ll be amazed at what it can do for your outlook.
Self-talk improvement. Much of our positivity or negativity comes from our internal dialogue, or self-talk. Learn to recognize self-talk when it unfolds in your mind, and steer it toward more positive phrases when you can.
Nobody can go from being a neutral or negative thinker to a positive thinker overnight, but with practice and enough time, you can improve your outlook. With a more positive mindset, you’ll undoubtedly be more productive—and you’ll be happier and more satisfied with your life as well.
1. You’ll do more with less of your time.
This one is at the top of the list.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to allow us to meet all of the demands we have, so by being more productive with the time we have, we can do more stuff.
To-do lists keep us moving forward, checklists track our progress and reminders and calendars serve to keep us on schedule.
But is that enough of a reason to want to be more productive? Just to do more stuff?
Speeding up doing the stuff you’ve already got on the go just so that you can do more may seem like a good move, but it depends on what the “more” is. If the “more” is the important stuff, then you’re on the right track.
If it’s just stuff, then you’re way off course.
2. You’ll do better with your time.
Putting some form of productivity system in place – a trusted one that best suits your personality – will allow you to achieve better results of the stuff you do with that time.
You’ll be on the ball more often, be able to move fluidly from task to task and not get lost nearly as much with a trusted system at your side.
The fact that you want to do better with your time means you’re stuck as-is. You know you’ve got more in you, and you’ve decided that you’d much rather do better with what you have than add more to your plate just to appear better to others.
You can’t fool yourself or others with this strategy. This is clearly a case where less is best.
3. You’ll earn more with your time.
By being more productive (or being seen as more productive) you’ll increase your earning potential. This can be true…if you’re willing to work on this over the long term.
It also will work if you manage what you have rather than add more to what you’ve got to do. If you fail to do the latter, then you’ll be in a perpetual state of overwhelm. And no amount of extra earnings is worth that.
Outsourcing your work can be one way to earn more with your time, but you need to take the time to choose wisely about what you’re going to offload. Make the wrong call, and you’ve got twice the mess to clean up.
Treat your time as a commodity and you’ll have a better chance of taking advantage of it when the chips are down.
4. You’ll have an easier time.
Some people just want to be able to relax. They want to know that everything is able to run on autopilot so that they can enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Being more productive can make life easier for you, especially if you commit to the system that will work best in keeping you on top of things.
Adopting the system won’t be easy, though. You’ll face challenges that are both external (Why do you need to capture that?) and internal (I’ll remember that…I don’t need to write it down).
If you can overcome hurdles like those then you may very well have an easier time with things going forward.
5. You’ll have time to do something different.
You hate what you’re doing, it’s not you’re calling. Or you want to take on a hobby that you’ve been eyeing up for a while, but time just won’t permit it – at least not the way you’re using time now.
That’s when being more productive with your time can make the “same old, same old” turn into opportunities for new and different things.
Whether you’re pursuing a passion that you know you could make a living at or want to take up knitting, you can get there by planning your time better.
That may mean giving up stuff that isn’t moving you closer to that new and different thing (cutting back or eliminating television, starting your day a little earlier, etc.), but it’s a big first step.
That’s how you’ll go from being more productive in general to being more productive with purpose.
And your purpose is really the best one of all. Work towards that purpose with productive use of time in mind.
6. You’ll have more time in a day.
This one is more a matter of how you handle time than actually gaining time.
We all have the same amount of time; how each of us uses it can be the difference-maker.
You may be the type of person who needs a rigorous schedule. So, you do that.
You may be the type of person who can only take on one big project at a time so that you can get it done and have more time for play later. So, you do that.
You may need to scale back on your current plans so that the bigger plans you have in your life can stand a chance. So, you do that.
The more time you’re looking for is time you already have; it’s just used in a way that doesn’t work for you. Make it work for you…because we don’t have a lot of it.
7. Time will be on your side.
Time seems to run away from you. You can’t keep up. The clock works against you and there’s nothing you’ve been able to do about that.
By being more productive with it, then it will start to play nice with you.
It won’t. Not unless you give it the respect it deserves.
Time hates to be abused. You abuse time by wasting it or squeezing the life out of it by using every second of it in the act of doing.
Time needs a break, and so do you. So, you can’t just be more productive without really looking closely at how you treat time.
Proper planning and knowing when to just let go will go a long way in making time a fast friend.
But it’s a fickle beast – and that makes it a tough friendship to maintain.
8. You’ll be able to control time better.
This is one of the silly ones, and yet people put systems and checkpoints in place so that they can try to do it. Things happen. Plans go awry. Balls get dropped. Why?
Because we’re human…and we live in a world full of humans.
Increased productivity doesn’t happen because of how you handle the moments you are in control; it happens because of how you handle the moments that you’re not.
9. You’ll free up more time.
This one works in conjunction with making things easier on yourself, but with a slight difference. Those who free up time tend to be more fulfilled than those who just want to have an easier time.
That’s because the freeing up of time presents a variety of things to do, places to go, people to see and more.
The people who want to free up time have things they want to pursue with that time. The people who want an easier time simply don’t want to do much with it other than know they’ve made their lives a little bit easier.
So, do you want to live a more fulfilled life because of increased productivity or just have “less filled” life because of increased productivity?
The answer separates those who want more freedom and those who want it easier.
10. You’ll improve over time.
It seems to many of the other reasons but has a distinction about it:
It focuses more on the journey than on the destination.
How you improve over time is subjective when you aim to be more productive. It could be in work, life or elsewhere. It could be in many areas, with the focus on improvement being shifted when either the priorities shift or the mood strikes.
By looking as far ahead as possible, you put yourself in the position for major renovations in your life.
As you gain knowledge and wisdom, your productivity will improve. You may not be more efficient at things, but you’ll be more effective.
When you have this reasoning in mind, time is your friend because you’re not in a race against it. You’re working with it, alongside it for years and years.
You learn how to treat it and it learns how to treat you. There is an ebb and flow, a give and take. And the struggles and skirmishes are minor and forgotten. You don’t hold a grudge against time and it doesn’t hold one against you.
The journey is essential to the improvement, and you’ve brought along all of the right equipment (upgrading as you see fit along the way) to make sure it’s an amazing one.
Productivity is important not only to your work, but your life overall.
@Rumana Maner [MBA]
AirCrews Aviation Pvt Ltd
Rumana Maner [MBA] HR Manager