HR News and Resources

Find the latest workplace relations and HR news, commentary and iHR Australia resources

5 Productive practices: daily walks and substance abuse?

3 July 2014

Productivity is one of the great corporate buzzwords and, alongside creativity, is often something managers and workers alike are looking to increase in the workplace (and in general life.)

There are many unusual tips out there which claim to improve concentration, quality and output. However, the question often is, how can these be integrated into an average workplace and everyday life?

Sleep is a commonly discussed area which is linked to productivity at work; a recent article from Human Capital Online discussed the benefits of napping and flexible working times to allow workers to work when they feel most able and productive. The article includes comment from Professor Vincent Walsh from University College London who believes that, “Companies should allow naps in the afternoon,” and further that employers should, "Let people come in when they want. If they want to work through the night, let them."

This kind of thinking is not new and many companies already allow flexibility or encourage practices such as napping, but what other adjustments can be made to improve productivity and creativity?

In reviewing Mason Currey’s book Rise and shine: the daily routines of history's most creative minds, Oliver Burkeman tried out some techniques from the book which catalogues the weird and wonderful habits of a variety of successful creative people.

The tips Burkeman plucked from the book are fortunately more adaptable than might first be imagined, given that the book featured such habits as Benjamin Franklin’s “air baths”; his term for spending the morning naked.


1. Be a morning person

The majority of those discussed were “morning people” and in various ways this allowed them to be creative and productive, either affording extra time in the mornings or by giving them quiet time when interruptions were less likely.

2. Take lots of walks

Apparently many of history’s composers took daily walks and this practice is also highly relevant today when workers often find it difficult to get a break from the distraction of the computer screen, the phone or even colleagues.

3. Stick to a schedule

This approach is not typically associated with creative people but structure can take away arbitrary decisions and allow more mental space for generating ideas, problem solving and getting things done.

4. Practise strategic substance abuse

This might sound dangerous but the most common substance “abused” and praised by creative geniuses was actually coffee.

5. Learn to work anywhere

Environmental factors commonly thought of as obstructions to quality output and innovative thinking, such as background noise, may not actually have the supposed negative impact. In fact, Burkeman writes, a recent study has suggested that some background noise can facilitate creativity better than silence.

For more information and to view the full article, follow this link

HR news articles from this week: 

More HR news articles: 

Melbourne Office : 
Suite 11, 828 High Street Kew East Victoria 3102
Sydney Office :
Level 34 AMP Tower, 50 Bridge Street, Sydney 2000

Bangkok Office :

88 Paso Tower 14th Floor Unit A1 Silom Road , Suriyawong, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500

Free iHR Weekly Update

Subscribe for the latest in HR news and opinion