Sometimes working less can actually produce better results. The key to success is not hard working but smart working. Being productive is less about time management and more on managing your energy. The business of life is – how to spend the least amount of energy to get the most benefits. When applied correctly this represents the principle “Less Is More”.
- Stop Working Overtime and Increase Productivity. The 40-hour work week originates in 1926. Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company) conducted experiments proving a better productivity. The working hours were decreased from 10 to 8 and the work week decreased from 6 to 5. This holds true for prolonged periods. For example over two months. Studies in the construction industry prove that if a crew works 60 hours a week, there will be a significant drop in the productivity after two months. That would result in a later completion of a project compared with the same team working 40 hours a week. Interesting fact is that many successful persons have had naps during the day. The nap in the day breaks the workday in pieces and reduces working time. But, it energizes the body and boosts productivity.
- Stop Saying Yes Too Often. Twenty percents of the effort produces eighty percent of the results. The opposite also holds true – twenty percents of the results consume 80% of the effort. Instead of working harder we should focus on working efficiently.The reasonable question here is what do we say “yes” and what do we say “no”. You could filter that out. Do a split tests and compare the results. Pick the more efficient option for an activity that is going to be in your schedule. How to say “no” is also something important.
- Stop Doing Everything. Delegate Tasks to Others. Each and every hard-worker has reached that point. You try to keep a control on everything so that it is properly carried out. Sooner or later this burden sucks up your energy, totally dries you out and you cannot grow anymore. You must find the right people to delegate work to. Another very important aspect of the problem – many times your viewpoint and efforts are simply not the best approach towards something. You are working hard but not smart. Delegate tasks and processes to people and communities who actually better understand and manage the matters. For example, there are big brands who listen and rely on their community and user driven feedback.
- Stop Pursuing Perfectionism. The more perfectionist one is, the less productive he is. Perfectionism should be left to the bare minimum, so that a solution to a problem serves its purpose well and does not leave essential or severe flaws. The idea of perfectionism is not bad, but here are the problems associated with it:
- More time than required spent on tasks.
- May result in procrastination.
- May miss the big picture while focused on small details.
Waiting for the “perfect moment” to do something could end up in missing it.
- Stop Wasting Time on Repetitive Tasks. Automate. A recent study shows interesting relation between percentage of time spent on repetitive tasks and improving efficiency for these tasks. There is a peak for people who spent 25% to 30% of their time on repetitive task. They show improvement in efficiency up to 15% for these tasks in two months. Anything above 30% time devoted on repetitive tasks showed less improvement in efficiency. Programming or other tools could be used to automate such tasks. You don’t necessarily need to be a coder to start thinking about such solutions. Depending on the nature of the repetitive tasks it might be really useful and time saving to use automation. Consider that and boost efficiency. When first applied and tuned, a simple process under automation might take five or ten times more time than doing it manually. But, if you are going to use that many many times, the time you are going to save worths money.
- Stop Guessing and Base Your Decisions on Data. Keep on asking yourself how do you measure and optimize everything you do. There are well known trends and solutions to problems you face everyday. No need to reinvent the wheel. Look up for working solutions in internet and base your decisions on the data. Even if you can’t find exactly what you need, run a split test and proof your decision. There are many research studies and many hands on experience strategies and solutions out there. Go find yourself what works best in your case.
- Stop Working. Have Do-Nothing Time. It is useful to walk away from work and have a free time alone. Such breaks have good effect on your brain and spirit. The time to relax and reflect upon things result in finding solutions without even searching for them. A certain time of solitude is essential for every human being. The exact amount is different for different types of persons. Apart from letting you recover, do-nothing-time-alone actually helps for better relations and empathy towards others.