When you’re stressed beyond your limit, the last solution you’d imagine is to do less.
Yet, that might be exactly the key to accomplishing more and maintaining balance in your life. Managers are beginning to realize something pertinent: brains and bodies function better when they have more to do in less time. Research shows that people who work 35 hours per week are half as productive as those who only work 20. Psychologically, this can be attributed to what Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir call “focus dividends.”
In their book Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, Mullainathan and Shafir explain why having less time creates greater periods of productivity. When you’re trying to fill an entire day with work, you drag your feet. When your time is limited, you’re more driven to accomplish what you can. That energy spike creates your first actions, and that builds momentum. You end up more productive than if you had the entire day to do the same beginning tasks.
There are a host of other benefits, too: Vice reported that not only would a shorter workday create more jobs, it would also be fantastic for the environment, as there would be less production. Though this is obviously not ideal for those who work in professions that require presence, such as law enforcement, teaching, or jobs that require a large number of people like construction, it is a viable reality not only for the self-employed, but business owners and managers looking to make their employees more effective.
If you fall into any one of the latter categories and are trying to shorten your work time and improve your productivity, start with the following tips:
Ask yourself: “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied?”
Structure and prioritize your day according to importance and degree of fulfillment. Instead of meandering around accomplishing random tasks as you find them, decide on one thing you can feel truly proud of having accomplished in any given day, and make sure you do it.
Be productive, not busy.
Productivity is to accomplish, busy-ness is to idle. People who are always “busy” are actually poor managers of their time and energy. Productive people are the opposite, they’re able to accomplish a lot without being consumed by it, which is what allows them to perform.
Delegate and automate important tasks.
Anything that can be automated by a machine should be. Anything that can be streamlined needs to be. Delegation is the most essential tool in your arsenal, and you need to make sure you’re not wasting your energy on things that you don’t really need to be.
Get rid of microdistractions.
Make sure your work time is uninterrupted. Turn off push notifications, sign out of your email account, and focus on the most important tasks at hand.
Note how you’re draining your energy resources.
If there’s something that particularly exhausts or frustrates you, address it first. Don’t waste your morning on a difficult tech issue that can wait until the afternoon, or that would be better fixed by someone with more expertise.
Streamline your daily routine.
Choose your outfit the night before you have to go to work. Prepare your meals ahead of time. Cut your commute, if you can. Do whatever it is you’re able to in order to make the tasks you have to attend to in a day as seamless as possible. The less energy you have to expend on rote chores, the more focus you have for productivity.
Focus on improving your income per hour.
Start breaking work down into what you are earning in an hour, and build from there. Instead of worrying about how to adjust your gross total for the fiscal year, focus not only on what you do each day, but in each part of the day. If you’re going to earn the same amount of money for working 3.5 hours as you would 7, it seems senseless not to.
More Info: www.forbes.com