A recent Stanford study supports the notion that working harder, not smarter, is the key to success. We each only have 24 hours each day to accomplish all that we need to do — from work to play to family obligations to creative pursuits. Getting more done in less time is a recipe for success and happiness.
1. Don’t Work Weekends
This one may surprise you, but pros say that there’s solid evidence against working on the weekends. As all entrepreneurs know, sometimes it's necessary to burn the midnight (or Saturday) oil to get work done. The occasional weekend work may be necessary, but in general you should stick to the regular work week.
We need time off to unwind and give our brains a rest. Working without a break leads to burnout and that means you’re going to get even less done. Research shows that time off on weekends can help you focus at the office during the week. Allocating your weekend energy for your family, your hobbies, and other endeavors will help you bring your "A" game to the office. That means you’ll be able to get more done in less time.
2. Block Your Time
While it may seem easier to spread out work over several days, the truth is that knocking it all at once is far better. Force yourself to focus on hard tasks and try to finish them in one fell swoop. By focusing on completing your tasks all at once, you'll keep the ball rolling and complete the work far faster than having to pick it up from scratch over and over again.
Use reminders or set timers to help designate the block of time you need to complete tasks and stick to that plan. Set up times for breaks, too, and force yourself to take a break when you need it. Before you know it, you’ll have completed that task you’ve been dreading.
Blocking your time will make you more accountable too yourself as far as actually completing a task. And it’ll make the task easier to complete since you handle it all at once.
3. Hit the Gym
Studies show that exercise has multiple benefits that can help you kill it at the workplace. It reduces your stress, improves your focus, boosts your mood, and gives you more energy. And you don’t need to start marathon training to see significant benefits – even ten minutes at a time can result in better work performance.
Even if the only time you have to exercise is on the weekends, that's 48 full hours during which you can get your blood pumping. It doesn't have to be staring at a gym wall while you tread on the mill; find something which makes you happy and that you look forward to. Biking, surfing, skiing, horseback riding – whatever gets that heart rate up!
When you’re running a business or working at a demanding job, you may feel a lot of pressure to be on call all the time. That’s one of the curses of modern technology – we’re always reachable by phone or email. But knowing that you might get hit with work at any given time is really stressful! And just like working through your weekends, it’s likely to lead to burnout. Being on call 24/7 actually means you’re going to get less work done.
What's a busy entrepreneur to do to ensure they're reachable but not wed to their mobile device every minute of every day? Rather than making yourself always available, schedule blocks to time to check your emails and your voicemails. This is a good practice even during the work week – it should be part of your blocking. It’s a lot harder to get a task done when you’re answering emails every 5 minutes. Make sure you let the other people you work with know that you’re blocking your time, though, so they don’t think you’re ignoring them.
5. Find Your Rhythm
Each of us has an internal body clock which dictates when we wake, fall asleep, and when we are at our most productive. Listen to your own body clock - are you a night owl or a morning person? Are you best after lunch or first thing when the sun rises?
Schedule nose-to-the-grindstone tasks for when you're at your top energy level. Then push the busy work for when you're less bright-eyed. Just a simple shift of your daily tasks to synch up with your body clock can significantly boost your productivity. And listen to your body about when you need a break – some folks need a few minutes to themselves every half hour while others do better taking a break every few hours.
And your rhythm doesn’t just start at the office – it’s important over the course of your whole day. In fact, many productivity experts agree that one of the best things you can do to boost office productivity is to wake up one hour earlier. Waking up just one hour earlier can allow you to plan your day, get in the right mind frame, and focus on what you want to accomplish.
Once you get in the habit of rising with the sun, maintain that sleep schedule, even on weekends. Going to bed and waking at the same time each day helps your body set a routine for success.
Work Smart, Not Hard
Ok, so “work smart, not hard,” isn’t quite accurate. You’re going to be working hard either way. But by taking care of yourself and managing your workload in a smart way, you can get a lot more done in a lot less time. You can get the same amount of work done in a smart work week as you can with a grueling 24/7 pace – we just lose efficiency when we work that way. And that will make you a lot happier and your business more successful.
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