Do Less To Do More
The concept of the good old 9 - 5 workday has become extinct. With a shaky economy and cost-cutting a constant threat to businesses of all sizes, most corporates have their manpower working long and hard to satisfy and retain clients. However, while some employees are able to complete a full day’s work within their allotted working hours, others have to work overtime just to finish their jobs. It’s no surprise, then, that entrepreneurs and business organizations are more inclined towards hiring and retaining employees that work less and get more done. In short, companies prefer people who are productive, not the ones that just seem busy. These are people who own their day instead of letting their day own them. So how does one tell the difference between the two?
Busyness Vs Productivity
‘Busy’ is what best describes most of our lives today. However, does one’s ‘busyness’ necessarily mean they are productive or efficient? Imagine completing 75% of your long to-do list without actually finishing the two most important tasks.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Often, this busyness is caused by a failure to prioritize tasks. It is also an unfortunate result of a number of avoidable interruptions: personal phone calls, checking email, social media, long-drawn-out meetings etc.
Productivity, on the other hand, is your ability to successfully complete your assigned tasks within a specific period of time. Productive individuals are the ones who work smart, are more disciplined in their time management, and have developed the art of prioritizing their tasks.
Busy folks are usually glued to their work desks, cramming as much as possible into they day. They multitask, and tend to be easily distracted. They also end up doing a lot, but accomplishing little.
Comparatively, productive people can distinguish between urgent and important tasks, and allow themselves enough time to focus on a single task at a time. This frees up time for breaks, and actually helps them achieve more, with a better output overall.
So how does one become more productive and simplify their work life, all while avoiding the constant pressure of meeting impossible deadlines? It’s really quite simple — a few small changes to your routine can help you dramatically simplify your work life without compromising efficiency:
Set Achievable Goals
Before you get busy with work, set big and small goals for yourself. Often, not having a plan can be overwhelming and may even slow you down. But being aware of your goals for the day can help you tackle your tasks. For the most efficient use of your time, start with the big ones first, while you are alert, and then move on to the smaller, easier ones towards the end of the day.
Look to the Japanese for Inspiration
The Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, meaning good change, can help you think about and organize your time better. The idea is that every aspect of an organization should, at all times, strive to do what it does better. And this principle can easily be applied to the workforce as well. Kaizen urges people to do one thing at a time, slowly and deliberately, only moving on when the task is complete. This allows people and companies be selective in how they spend their time, which leads to more mindful and focused work.
Ask for Help
If you reach a roadblock when you’re tackling a particular task, don’t think twice about asking for help. Learning to delegate will make it easier to get things done, with much less stress. In fact, by seeking help you can also build rapport with your team members and show them that you trust them.
Beware of Meetings
Optional meetings are one of the biggest time-wasters in the workplace. The duration of these meetings, plus the time it takes to get your mind to focus when you’re back to work can eat into a large part of your day. So, unless your presence in a meeting is vital, politely decline so you can get more done instead.
Break for Health
Breaks are good for you. Studies have proven that taking regular breaks helps concentration and can even boosts your mood. But there are good breaks and bad breaks. The bad ones are mostly avoidable — the kind that pull your mind away from your work. But good breaks are essential for both mental and physical health: a little walk to stretch your muscles, to rest your eyes, or just to get a drink of water from the cooler.
Get Productive, Not Busy
The problem with busy people is that they work linearly, without considering whether there are smarter or better ways to do things. Their busyness can look and feel like productivity but can never actually match that level of efficiency. Simply put, it is the difference between ‘looking busy’ and ‘getting it done’. For instance, a productive person’s to-do list doesn’t include things like, “Follow up with Frank on the reports” — they’ve already called and handled it. No dilly-dallying, no procrastinating, just consider it done. It’s no wonder, then, that being productive is at the very core of every high-level achiever’s gameplan — people like Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, or the Ambanis. So it might be time to take a leaf out of their books and start working smarter, instead of harder.