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The Myth of the Linearity of Productivity

MaltaMany years ago I spent a summer in Malta doing academic research. What stands out most vividly all these years later is that everything on the island closed up at 1 pm in the summer. And everything, everywhere, still got done.

It was too hot to work.

The 11 x 17-mile island boasts 87 glorious beaches.

People work faster when they’ve reason to finish.

And, the winters are damp and wet.

What better reason to agree to a sane schedule that lets people do and be? Personally, knowing that the libraries all closed early in the day was a great incentive to hop on the old busses early in the morning (swimsuit as well as notebooks in bag…). I finished my research, in fact, with two weeks to spare on the island. Two glorious weeks to visit Stone Age sites as magnificent as Stonehenge. Churches that rival any cathedral in Europe. And most of those beaches.

But way too many businesses are stuck in the myth that time-in-chair = productivity, missing the truth of Parkinson’s Law, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”  As people in the United States head into our Independence Day weekend, consider how you might help bust the first myth and get people to do more in less time so they can not just be more productive but more full of life!

Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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