If you’re wondering how you can still achieve a lot if you stop working so hard, this bonus chapter is for you.
Busyness and the pressure to work longer than your peers turn everything upside down.
Yet, so many people wear it as a badge of honor – “I work 60 hours per week, so I’m a very hard-working and productive man.” What a shame that forty, if not more, of these hours, are spent doing tasks that produce little to no results. It all starts with…
Method 1 : Time Delusion
More and more jobs in today’s world are about providing results, and not just putting in hours. However, the mindset hasn’t shifted yet – people are still paid for hours worked, and the more hours you work, the more productive you’ reconsidered to be.
Just try to tell others you’re working four hours a day and see their reaction. It doesn’t even matter if you achieve the same, or better, results, than they do –it’s just maintaining the image of today’s successful, hard-working person that important. Results are damned. Quantity over quality!
It’s easy to see why most people conform and focus on hours worked instead of their real effectiveness. If you stop working so hard, you’ll be ostracized. If you’re working for someone else, you’ll get fired, or you’ll just be given even more work (even if you accomplish more in four hours than your colleagues twelve).
We can’t speak of how to deal with bosses and corporate rules – this is something you need to figure out on your own, based on your knowledge of how your company operates.
A survey of 2,000 office workers conducted by management software developer AtTask and market research firm Harris Interactive shows that half of an employee’s hours at the office are spent doing other things than her primary job duties.
That’s at least twenty hours a week wasted at work you could have spent preparing healthy meals, enjoying time with your friends and family, or learning new skills.
Regardless if you’re an employee or an employer, consider noting down what you’re doing during the day to find out when you’re most productive. How much time do you spend actually working? Then work on your most important tasks during the hours when you’re most productive. For maximum productivity, while working minimum hours, set short deadlines. Parkinson’s law says that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
If you give yourself a week to accomplish something, it will take you a week to do it. If you give yourself three days to do it, you’ll accomplish it in three days (while wasting much less time).If you want to stop being busy, identify your magic hours and cut away the unessential tasks to achieve more in less time.
Method 2 : Think More, Act Less
It’s not the amount of action you’re taking that’s important. It’s the action,and its significance (or lack thereof) that’s important.
I have a simple rule in my life that dramatically reduces the amount of timespent on useless tasks. I just ask myself what action I can take to render other,smaller tasks unnecessary.
For instance, would you like to become more productive? You can use allkinds of complex productivity systems you want, but you’ll get the most benefitfrom following the same routine every single day. Why spend an hourcategorizing your tasks (most of which aren’t even necessary) into severaldifferent groups if you could just pick one key thing and work on it first thing inthe morning every single day?
Shift your focus from action to getting results, and don’t act until you have aclear idea of what action will bring the most results.
Method 3 : Free Yourself from Obligations
We all have to juggle several roles on a daily basis. Employee or businessowner, spouse, parent, community member – these are just a few of the roles most people have to perform every single day. Add to that various errands youneed to run each day, and you’re so busy that you need to work overtime andsteal away precious time previously reserved for recharging.
If you have a means to do it, free yourself from some of the obligations bydelegating them to someone else. Services like Taskrabbit can help you findanother person who can take care of minutiae for you – clean your house, buygroceries, plan an event.
If you can afford it, it’s not extravagance or snobbism. By hiring other peopleto perform these tasks for you, you free up your time to perform more importanttasks – either at work or in your personal life (spending more time with yourspouse, playing with your kids, or just going for a bike ride or reading a goodbook). Plus, you’ve given them an opportunity to make money.
Method 4 : Make Fewer Decisions
Due to decision fatigue, the more decisions you make, the lower the qualityof those decisions. Since busy people tend to make more choices, they’remore prone to suffer from decision fatigue.
This phenomenon affects every aspect of your life –your productivity(whether you’ll work on the most important task or dilly-dally), your health-related choices (whether you’ll go with a greasy burger or a healthy salad), oryour purchasing decisions (whether you resist the temptation to buy somethingyou don’t need when it’s deeply discounted or save money).
Reduce the number of trivial decisions you make to improve the quality ofyour decisions. It will take away unnecessary stress from your life, and help youmake better choices.
You can either eliminate some decisions from your life altogether (e.g., bywearing the same set of clothes prepared for every specific day of the week) orlet someone else make them for you (e.g., let the waitress pick the meal for youat the restaurant).
If you need to make big decisions, make them in the morning while yourdecision making capabilities haven’t been decreased yet.