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How Working Too Hard Could Hamper Your Performance

If you equate overworking yourself at your job with a productive output, you might want to rethink that game plan. Too much of something is not always a good thing, and when it comes to effort at the workplace, this might just be the case. In no way is this a green signal for you to be putting your feet up at your desk and slacking, but the important point is to be mindful about how much effort you are putting in and when to tighten the reins a little. It turns out that sometimes, exerting less effort may actually improve your state of mind and your performance at the workplace. Here are 5 ways that your obsessive personality at work might actually be counterproductive towards your performance, and how you can shape-shift them in a positive manner, so that you not only decrease your stress levels, but also increase your productivity.

1. You are devoting too much of your time to your job

A team of researchers in Berlin studied the practice habits of violin players and chanced upon some pretty interesting results. The schedules of exceptional violinists were compared to those who were less exceptional players. It was found that the most talented violinists actually slept more and practiced less throughout the day as compared to less than the average players. The researchers found that exceptional violinists spent only about two chunks of time a day honing areas in which they were weakest. Average players on the other hand, didn't just focus on their weakest areas, but would spread their work throughout the day. In addition to that, average players were found to sleep less and feel more stress than their talented counterparts. This means that just because you are devoting all your time to your job, it doesn't mean that your performance is spectacular.

Make sure to:
Chalk out one or two chunks of time in the day to focus on projects that are the most challenging to you. Space the rest of your tasks accordingly to take less precedence.

2. You are the king/queen of multi-tasking

It might be really tempting to take on tons of tasks and show off your multi-tasking skills. You might think that switching back and forth from one task to the next and then back again will be a piece of cake. But this isn't the case. This technique can actually be quite detrimental to all your tasks. A Stanford study of 262 subjects found that people who multi-tasked often underperformed compared to those people who concentrated on one project at a time.

Make sure to:
Try and focus on one task at a time for at least 20 minutes, before you turn your attention to another one.

3. You are all about all work and no play

You pride yourself on being focused and committed to your job, and nothing can distract or pry you away from your desk. But research proves that distraction doesn't always have to be a subtraction. When you take the time to explore activities that you find interesting, your energy and focus will actually get rebooted. This will allow you to do tasks at hand much more efficiently than before. Study authors from University of North Carolina say that allowing your mind to wander to areas of genuine interest can kick-start positive areas of the brain into gear which are related to attention, motivation, effort and persistence.

Make sure to:
Take a few short breaks when you are in the middle of a particularly intense project. Take a walk around the office or grab a cup of coffee with your coworker.

4. You never seem to have enough time

Being too busy or having too much on your plate can actually be counterproductive to your state of mind and your efficiency. Research has revealed that major depression can result out of working long hours. Not only is this detrimental to your output, but it also leads to burnouts, which in turn cause frustration, dejection, low-self-esteem and flare-ups at home.

Scientists of a California study examined the minds of subjects when they were at rest. But when their brain waves were measured, it was revealed that though their minds were at rest, they were still working and focused on imagining the future and recalling past events.

Make sure to:
Set a personal time limit to working on just two projects at a time. This, according to French neuroscientists, is your brain's natural limit. As human beings, we are hardwired to handle only two things at once. Include a couple of more tasks to the mix and it's a recipe for disaster. Be sure to give yourself more time to complete a project that you think you need. This way, you won't have to rush anything and can stay on schedule.

5. You are trying too hard

The ancient Chinese Daoist practice of wu-wei focused on the principle of 'no trying,' or 'effortless action''. As human beings, we tend to be more successful at tasks when we are completely relaxed and aren't trying too hard. When our bodies are calm, the engagement of our minds is improved. Johns Hopkins scientists examined musicians at work, and found that when the best Jazz musicians improvised and allowed themselves to mentally let go, sections of the brain that rule inhibition were turned off, while those parts of the brain that were related to self-expression and creativity were turned on.

Make sure to:
Always take the time out for the restorative power of rest. At the end of the day, focus on the fact that quality always trumps quantity, especially where your professional life is concerned.
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