While researching and writing this edition’s In A Nutshell a daily e-shot from one of my favourite writing resources arrived, entitled ‘Be More Productive Every Day with These Eight Tips’.

Timely, I thought, given our If You Ask Me contributors are sharing their thoughts and views on the very subject of productivity.

So I paused the important task of this column, opened the email to read it … and inadvertently and ironically broke one of the eight rules immediately.

Turns out number 5 is Turn your email to work offline so it’s easier to ignore while you focus on tasks.

Not a great start, then.

However, reading our contributors’ pieces, saying goodbye to the same old systems is clearly what’s required to address the productivity problem, in the city region and beyond.

It’s encouraging to see UTC Sheffield City Centre campus doing things differently to ensure people leave education with the right skills to address the productivity gap.

As Principal Alex Reynolds said: “Last year 100% of students went on to a positive destination after completing their studies with us. They are testament to the merits of adopting a high quality technical approach to education, one that can provide a lasting legacy for young people, their communities, employers and the regional economy.”

But what happens if they graduate from college with the right skills, qualifications and attitude only to join an organisation slavishly sticking by outdated practises and traditional ways of working?

Is it better to work five hours with regular breaks/a leisurely lunch/a trip to the gym to refresh and revitalise and clear half the To Do list? Or remain doggedly desk-bound for seven hours and achieve potentially much less?

After all, as Tim Vorley, Professor at the University of Sheffield’s Management School, notes: “Productivity reflects how smartly we work …Productivity growth, therefore, is the ability to generate more output from the same levels of input.”

It was also interesting to discover how Lisa Pogson’s company Airmaster has benefited from working with Westfield Health and their sleep expert James Wilson as she tells us: “Productivity gains are made by workers getting a little more sleep and being a little fresher at work.”

James himself has previously said: “Sleep is the basis on which our physical health and emotional wellbeing is built upon.

“In the workplace it helps us stay more focused, helps us be more productive, reduces sick days, and leads to a more calm and content workforce.”

He has a point – especially given sleep deprivation costs the UK 200,000 lost working days.

But back to that e-shot on eight productivity tips – number 7 was Take time off from it all and 8 Take time during the day to just think.

The trouble is, in our busy, busy, busy culture putting these tips and theories in to actual working practice.

Despite all the distractions, I have, however, finished In A Nutshell and hit my deadline – so am off to speak to the unLTD team about giving my brain a well-deserved break and taking time off from it all for an hour or two …

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