The key to productivity within the work environment is to encourage understanding — of others, and of ourselves.

Every individual is different. Saying that “men act like this” and “women act like that” leads to inaccuracies and creates false assumptions. Often productivity issues are caused by misunderstandings between people because they are at different stages in their lives, rather than because of their gender. For instance, in the workplace there is a greater difference between mothers and single women than there is between mothers and fathers.

It’s important to understand ourselves, the triggers for habits that may be unproductive, and the strategies which will work to help us achieve more with less.

In 2015 when my company Pac Executive Coaching researched workplace productivity, we noticed slight differences in the unproductive habits that males and females were likely to exhibit, and in the various strategies males and females use to achieve more with less.

Regardless of gender, our ability to achieve optimal productivity relies on our capacity to set boundaries around low-value activities, and to prioritise important and impactful work.

Our study did however find some gender-specific differences regardless of other circumstances.

  1. Women are less likely to say they consistently achieve their personal goals

    When asked to respond to the statement “I am always successful in achieving my personal goals”, women were less likely to indicate they agreed or strongly agreed.

    Both sexes struggle with work-life balance. When asked to respond to the statement “I have good work-life balance”, nearly 46% of respondents reported struggling with work-life balance.
    Encouraging both sexes to say no to non-priorities ensures greater success at work and improves one’s ability to achieve personal goals.

  2. Women are more likely to check their email frequently

    When asked to indicate how often they checked their email, 55% of respondents indicated they checked work email every 10 to 15 minutes or whenever an email alert came up. Women were slightly more likely to be guilty of this unproductive habit than men.

    The impact is that decisions made and communicated via our inbox may not be optimal. We become reactive rather than responsive to requests for our time and attention. Making a habit of email-batching can help professionals buy time before making decisions. For instance, many professionals will give up hours of their time by accepting meeting requests via email reactively.
    This is because they’re trying to respond quickly rather than asking if the meeting is really necessary, or whether it aligns with their professional and/or personal goals.

  3. Women are more likely to eat well. Men are more likely to exercise

    Men are slightly more likely than women to exercise on a regular basis while women are more likely to modify their diets to maintain their health.

    Of the total cohort of respondents, 50% indicated they exercised at least three times a week, and men were 12% more likely than women to fall into this category. At the other end of the scale, 12% of respondents indicated they never exercised, and women were more likely than men to fall into this group.

    Exercise is a universally recognised productivity booster. It encourages clearer and more creative thinking. Try to exercise at least three to five times a week and consider the impact your diet has on your productivity.

Happiness Leads to Success

One of the most significant findings of our research was that professionals who prioritised their personal happiness were likely to be more productive, and therefore more successful, at work. A simple change like starting to exercise or having a regular family meal can make a significant difference to personal happiness and success.

If you’re one of the 44% of professionals struggling to achieve your personal goals, ask yourself two questions: What makes me happy? How can I prioritise my happiness? Use the answers of these questions to inspire action and develop new habits to allow you to achieve more with less.