We’ve all been there—yes, even leaders—sitting at our desk faced with a task, dreaming of a million places we’d rather be, things we’d rather be doing. It may not be our work attitude in general, sometimes we’re just not in the mood. And whatever the reason, it’s completely natural. As the nilo.health program “Conquer Procrastination” explains: “procrastination is a normal and common reaction to things or situations we consider dull, difficult, or just plain scary”.
If it’s just a passing phase that doesn’t eat dangerously into project timelines or put us under unhealthy stress, procrastination—as well as its productivity-sapping cousins distraction and lack of motivation—don’t necessarily need to be “fixed”, however, it can be extremely helpful to step back and look at what conditions gave rise to these states of mind and learn what tools can be used to counter them.
In our professional and personal lives, getting things done matters and positively impacts our sense of purpose, accomplishment, and satisfaction. At a time in history where we touch or check our phones more than 2,000 times a day and the average US office worker focuses on any one task for just three minutes, science-based techniques to assist in getting on task and staying focused can be a lifeline for workers and managers alike.
The quest for “sustainable” performers
As psychologist Barry Schwartz explains in his 2015 book “Why We Work”, Adam Smith, an 18th-century economist and philosopher considered one of the fathers of the Industrial Revolution, was convinced that human beings were lazy by nature and that the only way to motivate them was through incentivizing. Today, we know Smith’s hypothesis is simply wrong: as nilo users learn, “the leading scholars in motivational science have determined that motivation is innate to human behavior”.
Unfortunately. this doesn’t change the fact that, thanks in part to Smith, we’ve been passed down authoritarian modes of working, whereby, according to Schwartz, “micro-measuring and micro-managing employees’ performance has turned all kinds of work into factory work ”—frequently to the detriment of people’s engagement, resilience, happiness, and productivity itself.
Further underscoring this are recent findings published by IT research and consultancy company Gartner which suggest that
“a human-centric approach, which provides people with more control over their work and work environment […] makes them more productive”.
In a survey of thousands of employees and managers, sustainable performers (defined by Gartner as employees uniting strong performance with health and wellbeing) were “17% more productive than other employees—and 1.7 times more likely to stay at their organization.” What’s more, Gartner concluded that performance management itself must change, “moving beyond just measuring employees’ outcomes to reflect more context and empathy”, finding that:
“people are motivated when they feel valued and create impact […] people want acknowledgement, growth opportunities and to feel valued, trusted and empowered.”
A fresh formula: Love + Work
In a remarkably similar note, Marcus Buckingham, author of a recent piece in the Harvard Business Review titled “Designing Work That People Love” posits that, “if leaders want their employees to be high performing, to stay with the organization, and to be engaged and resilient, they should be intentional in helping them find love in some of what they do, every day.”
Drawing on data from his work at ADP Research Institute (ADPRI), Buckingham explains that
“goals cascaded down from above, performance ratings, and 360-degree surveys—mechanisms that we tend to think of as increasing alignment and boosting performance—too often signal that the organization doesn’t trust its people. Goals imposed from above are artificial and disconnect employees from thinking through what they love and how they can contribute to it.”
nilo.programs for your team’s performance
The good news? These findings align perfectly with nilo’s programs for supporting employee performance. Rejecting any “one-size-fits-all” advice, the programs—covering the topics procrastination, focus and motivation, and developing better habits— provide employees with insights into how the brain functions, enriched by interactive exercises and tools to better understand their own working patterns.
Through simple exercises, guided meditations, visualizations, virtual coachings, and journaling prompts, employees are empowered to embrace their own best productivity rhythms–and identify their most effective hacks for getting down to business. Re-accessible at any time, programs are designed to be much more than “one-and-done”: with their impressive scope, they offer a multi-faceted, long-term support system.
How nilo exercises work
The cockpit exercise in “Find more focus and motivation” is a great example of a simple program tool which can be employed multiple times a day. Before starting an assignment, users are asked to imagine themselves as pilots and evaluate their readiness for “takeoff” by going over a comprehensive checklist, spanning from
- physical readiness (being fed, hydrated and rested) to
- knowledge level (having the right information, training and experience for the task at hand) to
- macro concerns such as purpose, intention, and potential privileges to be gained through successful completion of the assignment.
The process is not dissimilar to a runner visualizing a race before the whistle blows: seeing and evaluating the path to the finish line can prevent tripping up along the way and even promote a “flow” state.
In the nilo.app, 10+ short training “tools”, ranging between 4- and 15-minutes, further help users to hone and integrate the skills and techniques taught in the modules. Taking the form of guided audio meditations, writing exercises, and multiple-choice exercises, tools build on the core knowledge of the performance programs, offering additional insights and reflections on topics such as how to stay task-focused and how to change unhelpful behavior.
Help your employees go the extra mile
Encouraged to design their own work environment and schedules (naturally within the bounds of their organization’s guidelines), employees learn that they are not—nor can they be by virtue of their humanness—merely “cogs in the wheel”. For leaders, having a team that understands how motivation and focus can be optimally cultivated AND what they need as individuals to thrive offers a huge competitive advantage. In the words of Gartner:
“people are motivated when they feel valued and create impact […] people want acknowledgement, growth opportunities, and to feel valued, trusted, and empowered.”
nilo.health can give them all of this—not just through its performance programs, but via a holistic, 360° mental health-offering made to strengthen wellbeing and company culture sustainably at every level. Book your free nilo.health demo today to learn more!