We often obsess over productivity in the workplace. And we often hear that UK workers are less productive than their counterparts in the US and Europe. 

In his 2016 autumn statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: "The productivity gap is well known, but shocking nonetheless. It takes a German worker four days to produce what we make in five, which means, in turn, that too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts." (Source: The Guardian)

There are various factors at play and numerous theories surrounding the "productivity gap" but, in the early days of a new year, it's well worth thinking about what we can do on an individual level, to improve the way we work each day. 

And that means we need to consider (and reconsider) that oft-used term: "work-life balance". In this article for HubSpot, Amanda Zantal-Wiener outlines six ways in which your behaviour at the end of the day, after you get home, can negatively impact your work the next day. Among these is: "You're planning your next work day at home."

Amanda's point is that there's a time and a place for everything in our lives and when we allow these different spheres to merge together in the wrong way, the consequences can be detrimental. 

Today, many of us are adopting a more holistic approach to work and life - there's not work and life, there's just life, so-to-speak. Nevertheless, there's a difference between working more flexibly and working non-stop. We all need time to switch off. Longer hours don't necessarily equate to higher productivity.

In 2017, we should all be looking to work smarter, not harder. Work-life balance (or just "life balance") is important and we might just find that we have bigger and better ideas that result in more creative output when we remember that.