Productivity | Consistency over intensity - is this the real secret to success?

Consistency over intensity - is this the real secret to success?

The business world is shrouded in ideas about working 'harder' than everyone else in order to be successful. However, notions about what success means and how to achieve it are changing quickly.

Now, employees are recognising that being consistent, as opposed to spending more time on work, can actually lead to the same results without facing burnout or working hard unnecessarily.

Young people and Gen Z are often the stewards of this mentality, recognising that there is a hack to achieving goals without having to compromise on your own physical and mental wellbeing.

One idea in particular is becoming more pronounced on LinkedIn – being consistent with your work over being more intense as a way of achieving the same result. But what does this mean? And is consistency more important than intensity when working?

The key is in consistency...or is it?

The importance of being consistent has coloured many Ted Talks, podcasts and self-help books in recent years. People are starting to realise that being consistent, even if only doing a small amount every day, can be as important as anything else.

For example, sports people recognise the importance of training, even for a little bit, every day. Someone who's recently taken up weight training knows that they won’t necessarily have a six pack in a week’s time, but through being consistent, science backs up the fact they eventually could. Or a person who has recently started meditating might not see the benefits straight away, but even if doing five minutes daily, they can see benefits if they are consistent, without necessarily needing to meditate for an hour a day like some monk-like figures.

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However, with new tech such as AI emerging in the workplace – PwC just announced they are training their entire workforce in the use of this technology – some claim that it’s not just about being consistent, but also about working smarter as opposed to harder.

“Consistency over working harder can see sustained results but working consistently smarter rather than harder is where I have found the approach to be more beneficial to businesses,” Embryo’s delivery director, Mark McGonigle says. “We have a range of new technologies, such as AI, and resources at our fingertips that can improve our efficiency and decrease intensity, it’s really about being proactive with what you have and making informed decisions.

“Spending more time on a task, won't necessarily lead to a better outcome, being smarter about being consistent will help with new ways of learning and outcomes. The concept of consistently working smarter stems beyond tasks, it’s almost a strategic mindset of prioritising tasks that might take longer, giving yourself enough time to complete them and putting tasks that aren’t as stimulating to the top of the pile, as you run the risk of avoiding altogether.

In the working world, as there has been a rejection of hustle culture mentality and prioritising work over one’s wellbeing, the idea of being consistent over working long-hours has become more prominent – especially as a way to curb burnout and overwork. In a 2022 Mckinsey & Co study, 75% of 15,000 surveyed workers said they had experienced burnout. This coincides with research, that in the UK we are experiencing record high levels of sick leave, most of this attributed to poor mental health and stress.

McGonigle continues: “Working harder can lead to burnout and stifle thinking that can lead to consistent smarter working. It’s essentially about finding what works for you and the balance between knowing your limits and pushing your boundaries.

“We’re in a landscape where mindfulness and holistic approaches are celebrated more than ever, the shift of valuing consistency over intensity aligns as one of the most important factors to consider when creating a work environment to promote productivity and wellbeing.”

Ultimately, rejecting ideas to go ‘above and beyond’ and work hours way over what your normal working week is can only be a positive thing. This ideology was once revered as being the answer to succeeding against your peers. But now, many are realising that there are other ways to get to where you want to go that won’t risk your own mental and physical health – supported by the smart use of technology and working consistently instead of more.

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