This is a guest post by Kevin Nelson. He started his career as a research analyst and has changed his sphere of activity to writing services and content marketing. Currently, Kevin works as a part-time writer at the BeforeWriting.
Working smart always beats working hard when it comes to productivity.
Contrary to many people’s beliefs, more work does not generally equal better results.
Actually, in some scenarios, you may find that the more work you put in, the more damage there is to the accomplished results. Once you’ve wrapped it in your mind that you don’t necessarily have to kill yourself with work for you to be more successful, you can try more efficient ways out.
One of these many methods includes getting more work done without necessarily increasing your working hours and the to-do-list you live by.
We’ll look into such methods and how they can be applied.
1. Try and Disconnect.
Having a disconnect during the weekends is one of the most vital strategies that you can incorporate into your day to day schedule.
Without purposely setting aside such time for yourself, you will find that you are not able to remove yourself from your work, especially if you can still work from your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
You’ll practically still be at your workplace from Friday evening until Monday morning, even though you went home for the weekend. With your constant and ever persistent availability to your workplace, you increase the risk of exposing yourself to a barrage of unending stressors. These are no good because they prevent you from recharging and refocusing.
If, for instance, you find that taking a whole weekend off is impossible, you can try using the following tip.
Change your schedule of checking voicemails and responding to e-mails by trying to designate particular times on Sunday and Saturday to it. A good example of this would be checking your emails on Saturdays, preferably in the afternoon. On Sunday evenings right after dinner, you can slot in listening and replying to all the voicemails you might have received.
The best part about scheduling is that it helps you to organize the time you have at hand into short blocks. This, in turn, results in you having lower stress levels and at the same time, you will not have sacrificed your availability.
2. The Marginal Rule of Quality.
At some point in life, there always comes the big question of whether being a perfectionist is worth all the trouble or is it better to just sit back and use less energy by doing the bare minimum.
The best answer to both scenarios is this: when you find that all the extra input you give to your work has surpassed the output that you get out of it, just put down your tools and look for something else to do.
An extrapolation of this golden rule would be this – you should quit a particular task the minute you realize that the additional input you invest brings you poorer output as compared to a commensurate task.
Some applications of this rule could be:
a) Always make a comparison of the total time that’s used for polishing your work with the time that’s required for doing repairs.
If you find that more time is used up when polishing than when repairing, it’s advisable to just quit early. If you find that repairs have a tendency of siphoning your time and, on the other hand, polishing is fast, then slacken your pace in order to be more careful.
b) You should also make measurements of the difference between the various time amounts that are spent.
For this to be applicable, you could try reading and replying to your emails for different durations of time. For instance, try thirty minutes, sixty minutes, and then ninety minutes each day.
After you’ve done this, you can now comfortably compare the change in effectiveness and competence after each time adjustment. After you audit yourself with such data, you can go ahead and ask yourself the hard questions. An example could be asking whether it is justified to spend approximately three hours per day attending to emails.
3. Rule with Numbers.
One of the largest and most notorious time wasters in your life is making assumptions and worse still, living by them.
Whenever you find that the intuitions you have about the dynamics of the world do not match with how it actually works, then you can never be effective. The most efficient way to fight these false conclusions is by having them tested and followed up with numbers.
The results that a test brings have the capability of helping you to save hundreds and thousands of hours.
This is very much possible, especially if it indicates that a particular ongoing project has a much faster alternative or the process has little or no impact.
4. Energy Management.
Time management is a commonly used principle where a person needs to figure out how to maximize output with regard to time invested. Likewise, energy management also deals with maximizing output.
The main difference is that the results of energy management are thought of as energy functions.
When a person works for a few hours but does the work intensively, they are bound to be more productive than someone who works for long hours and even days. The latter type of people normally encounter lethargy in their elongated working hours, and they’re more prone to distractions as compared to the former type.
Below are some ideas on how to work while conserving energy:
a) Work in Bursts
Always divide your working hours into two periods: the period of complete focus on your work and the period of complete rest.
It is totally counter-productive to switch between the two constantly because it will end up leaving you neither productive nor properly rested.
b) Kill Projects
It’s not wise to spread out the projects that only require a small number of hours every day over a couple of days. For you to be productive, you should pull yourself together and complete them in a single sitting.
With more projects being accomplished all at once, you’ll find that you’re able to stay focused, save your time, and use less energy.
c) Rest, Health, and Fun – All Matter
Once you fixate yourself unnecessarily on your work, it can end up making you achieve a lot less than you expected.
You’ll constantly be feeling spent or tired during and after work. To be more effective, it is best to master the art of recharging yourself any time you require it. Take breaks and rest!
5. Parkinson`s Law.
The law by Parkinson goes to state that work normally fills the time availed for it to be completed.
This is nothing but a result of not focusing on completing projects but instead just focusing on doing work. The best way to apply this effectively is by imposing deadlines on yourself while cultivating a passion for getting projects finished.
Some of the ways in which you could apply this principle are as follows:
a) Divide the gigantic projects into much smaller portions.
Then, you should make it your top priority to finish up these small pieces of work to help prevent you from working haphazardly.
b) You should also set up, let’s say, a ninety-minute timer for you to get a certain small project done.
Immediately after the timer goes off, train yourself to stop working on this piece of work. With practice, sticking to the allocated time will become a habit and you’ll be able to think quickly and complete work with ease.
No matter what industry you’re in or what work you’re doing, there is a difference between being busy and getting things done. Being busy or working long does not necessarily mean that more work is getting done. Time is precious, time is money! Learn to use it effectively and you’ll be able to work less but get more done!