Quite frequently I consider how I might become more productive – be able to do more in one day or even accomplish more in an hour. It seems that more could be done in a 24-hour period.
In past several decades the ability to be or become productive is so valued that many are promoted when they produce the amount of work that can only be accomplished by putting in nearly 60 hours a week, every week, every month, year after year. While this may garner you a promotion at work, are they going to be standing over your grave when you work yourself to death, extolling your virtues?
Or will it be your friends and family who are grieving your loss? And do these people really care how much money you made or how many hours you put in at work?
As a single mom I would NEVER say that money doesn’t matter. It’s only the truly wealthy – who aren’t concerned about their next meal or paying the rent – who say that money doesn’t matter.
This should not be confused with WORRYING about money. While money matters – it doesn’t come solely from my efforts. When my efforts line up with God’s will then the bills are paid and there’s food on the table.
So . . . money matters, but not enough so that you work 60 to 80 hours a week to make your boss happy.
This comes back to the question of how to get more done in less time.
And – do you really need to?
At some point, you reach the pinnacle or the top of what could potentially be accomplished in a set amount of time.
It turns out that you are already more productive than anyone else.
If you are reading this, you are likely a woman who has children. Those two facts place you into a category of people who are the most productive individuals – both at home and at work.
In fact, some recommend that if you want to become more productive you just need to have children!
A study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (1) found that over a 30-year career, mothers outperformed their peers without children at every level of the corporate ladder. The study went on to define that women with two or more children were the most productive of all the women studied.
To evaluate productivity the researchers analyzed the amount of research published by over 10,000 academic economists. They found that fathers with one child outperformed those without children, and those with two or more children outperformed all other men.
The effect in women was even more dramatic as those who never had children substantially under performed those women who did have children. It is important to recognize that these people came from life circumstances that likely allowed them maternity leave, paid sick time and other benefits that not all jobs accommodate.
But, you may have experienced the same thing happening in your own life. The more you have to do on your “list,” the more you get done each day.
On days we have basketball practice and appointments, I carry my computer and get more done between appointments and at coffee houses than I do when my calendar is completely clear and I’m struggling to remain productive throughout the day.
This productivity in the workplace is coming despite the “parenthood penalty” that women suffer far more frequently than men.
The answer may lie in the fact that your days are long but those years are short. Children grow up quickly, so taking time to spend with them while playing the long-game at your job, may grow your productivity skills quickly.
You may also be forced to produce more in less time as you’re racing out to doctor’s appointments, baseball games or picking up your little ones from school. Suddenly the hours after they fall asleep and before your head hits the pillow are prime real estate for completing the final tasks from work, repainting the family room or finishing your college education.
In the study, all women experienced a reduction in productivity when their children were young – so don’t expect more from yourself than nearly 5,000 women. However, those same women became substantially more focused and productive as their children grew up and became slightly more independent.
The researchers theorized that the women who became more productive after having children were likely hard working before they had them. Thus, having children didn’t make a dent in what they could accomplish as they only continued to work hard through the years.
There was a time when I was working two jobs, totally 60 hours between the two, had three children and my now ex-husband had moved to the next city we’d be living in – leaving me to sell the house.
It was STRESSFUL with a capital WORD.
But somehow I sailed through each day and got more done each day than I do now.
Is that a function of a few more years under my belt? Less to do now and so less productive? Or just that I remember those years differently than they happened?
But, what I do know – from case study and anecdotal evidence (my friends count!) – women appear to be more productive in less time than their male counterparts – and women with children seem to get more done.
What do you think?
1: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis https://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/2014/2014-001.pdf