Increase Your Productivity: Work Less to Get More Done

June 13, 2017

You hear it all the time—to be successful you must work harder and longer than everyone else, which means pulling all-nighters and getting up at the crack of dawn.

While this might work if you have a rapidly approaching deadline, you’ve probably noticed that this lifestyle isn’t sustainable over long periods of time. Burnout is real—Red Bull will only get you so far before you inevitably crash.

Surely there’s a better, more sustainable way to achieve success?

Luckily, there is! We just have to learn how to manage our time so that we work smarter, not harder. Case in point: Richard Branson. According to an article by Business Insider, Branson says that there’s no need to rush around all the time. He has always found time to exercise and spend time with his loved ones—yet, he’s one of the most successful people in the world. Looks like Richard Branson is onto something…

According to a recent study by Stanford University, there’s a sharp decline in productivity after a 55-hour work week, to the point that there is no benefit in working more hours. In other words, even if you work a 70-hour week, you’ll accomplish the same amount that you would have in a 50-hour week.

So why not ditch the long work hours? Use these tips to increase your productivity while working less!

How to Work Smarter, Not Harder

1. Learn to Disconnect

When it’s time to work, work. When it’s time to play, play.

Give your work all your focus from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, if that’s your schedule. But, after hours and on the weekend, disconnect completely from work. Don’t go to the office, don’t check your emails, and don’t answer work calls. In fact, if you have a separate work phone or number, switch it off!

When you leave yourself open to work at all hours, you also leave yourself open to the stresses that come with it—meaning that you never really stop working. Disconnect completely so that you can really recover during your time off and begin your work week energized, focused, and ready to give it your full attention.

2. Take Time to Assess

Oftentimes, we’re so focused on working that we forget to take a minute to evaluate whether what we’re doing is even effective. Without assessing your work and the way you accomplish tasks, you could be missing out on a more efficient way to get the job done.

Step back and evaluate your work methods. Stay up-to-date with what’s going on in your industry to gain insight into the best approach to your work flow—don’t waste time on tasks that are outdated or unnecessary.

Be sure to set aside a few minutes to evaluate your work each week, maybe at the same time that you create your to-do list for the next week. You may be surprised at how much time you’ll save in the long run by taking a few minutes to assess and adjust your work strategy.

3. Set Strict Deadlines

Remember when you were in college and procrastinated doing assignments until the day before the deadline? You still managed to get it done—although it probably wasn’t your best work. Why is that? The deadline motivated you.

We are not suggesting that you do all your work the night before a deadline. We are suggesting that you set strict personal deadlines for yourself and stick to them.

Deadlines give us a specific timeline in which to accomplish something, even if it’s a small task. For example, set a timer for small, daily tasks like answering emails or filing paperwork—about an hour should do the trick—and get it done within that time. Break down larger projects into small, manageable tasks and set deadlines for each task. This will motivate you to get work done in the shortest, but most realistic, time possible.

Work Less To Get More Done

To increase your productivity and work less, you need to work smart. Contrary to what it sounds like, working less means being focused and efficient the entire time you’re at work so that you accomplish your goals more quickly.

It’s better to give your all to a single task in a short amount of time rather than dragging it out while becoming increasingly distracted and tired. Bouncing back and forth between email, work, and Facebook all day will only drain you—so don’t!

Productivity is all about balance. Remember, work hard, play hard(er)!

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