Five Ways to Be More Productive Without Burning Out

By Harvard Business Review
November 12, 2018

Employers have tried a variety of strategies to alleviate employee stress: greater compensation, at-work perks, mental health programs. Each has merit, but they all fail to address the root cause: overwork. 

Stress and anxiety in the workplace are not unusual — in health care or any profession. This may not be too surprising, given that working hours continue to climb for the highest-paid workers, including physician leaders.

Fortunately, there are productivity-focused strategies we each can use to cope. Here are five concepts for scaling back the hours put in without compromising performance or work quality: 

Be strategic: Any good strategy involves setting goals, developing a plan for achieving those goals and tracking progress toward those goals. The same is true for productivity.

RELATED: Another Way to Cope with Stress − Learn Something New 

Define a metric: Choose a metric for sustainable productivity; for example, the number of weekly hours worked. Then track data on that metric, set goals for improving and run experiments to see what influences it.

RELATED: Approaching the Burnout Epidemic with a Thriver’s Mindset

Focus on one change at a time: There’s a lot that goes into becoming more productive. But it’s too much to work on too many skills at any one time. Instead, figure out which one thing is the biggest obstacle to your productivity.

RELATED: The Power of “No” − Why Physician Leaders Should Set Boundaries

Change your behavior: Becoming more productive is more like losing weight than memorizing the presidents’ names — it is the product of behavior or lifestyle change, not simply knowledge. As a result, the key to becoming more productive is changing small behaviors and sticking with those changes over time.

RELATED: Tangible Results in Fighting Burnout 

Find someone to hold you accountable: It’s really hard to change your behavior alone, so find someone who wants to go on this journey with you. Be honest about your progress.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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