How does one make their workday more productive? New research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School examined the issue of maximising productivity at work through two different strategies for allocating time.

The two options for the best and most productive use of an hour’s work include uninterrupted, continuous work on a single project; or splitting up the hour into different slots and working on several tasks during that time.

So which option has the ability to deliver more productivity and work satisfaction? According to the research, the answer is somewhat intuitive.

Being engaged in a variety of different tasks over a week reduces boredom and increases happiness. On the other hand, switching intermittently between multiple tasks can result in higher stress levels and lower productivity.

The researchers believe it is likely just too cognitively taxing to be switching around too much. In the words of Dr Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, ‘Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent, and not enough time on what is important.’

The research suggests dividing the day into hour long slots (option 1) might be a less stressful alternative for time allocation, although not an entirely practical one.

Businesses, however, need to be able to accurately manage employee performance (individuals and teams) and cost jobs properly as it allows them to measure the capacity and efficiency of their teams and employees, facilitating better decision-making.

The Mitrefinch Labour Costing solution allows the management to plan tasks across multiple cost centres, compare planned tasks and budgets with those achieved, and track projects by hours, quantity, or cost.

Using this information, decision makers can assist employees to make the best and most efficient use of their time, whether they choose to work on a single project from start to finish, or split up time between various tasks and improve business processes.