No matter what industry you’re in, productivity is key. Whether you’re trying to climb the ladder or you work for yourself, being successful requires lots of time, effort, and dedication.
You may think that working more hours will get better results. However, overworking yourself can make you less productive, and believe it or not, it’s possible to be more productive by working less.
With the right methods, working a 35 hours week can generate the same results as a 50 hour week – if not better. But how exactly can working fewer hours boost your productivity?
Keep reading to learn how you can be more productive by working less, including knowing when to rest, focusing on the important stuff, and of course, exercising your body as well as your mind.
Know When To Rest
Rest is one of the most important things you can do if you want to be as productive as possible. As tempting as it can be to work for 10 hours straight when you’re in the zone, you’re probably doing more harm than good.
Have you ever been on a ‘roll’ after working for hours without a break, and then looked back at your work and realised that it’s full of errors and typos, and simply doesn’t make much sense? This is a common problem and demonstrates why breaks are necessary.
It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day, including at least 30 minutes break for lunch. This can help to break up the day and help you become more focused for the rest of the day.
Even if you’re super productive, you won’t be able to retain focus for eight hours straight – no matter how efficient your work habits are, you need to take breaks throughout the day.
If you’re pressed for time, you’ll be glad to know that even a break for a few minutes can help you to recharge.
Spending a few minutes away from your screen every couple of hours can help you to recharge, give your eyes a break, and give the chance to stretch your legs.
However, don’t just take breaks whenever – try to structure your breaks. The best way to structure your breaks is to monitor your work habits and take note of when you start to lose focus – and schedule a break for that point of the day.
Make sure each break is deliberate, otherwise you may find yourself getting distracted and going over on your breaks.
There are methods out there that can help you make the most out of your breaks – for example, the Pomodoro Technique. This technique suggests that you work for 25 minutes, and then take a 5-minute break.
Working for 25 solid minutes and taking a short 5-minute break means that you can work as hard as possible while retaining focus, and it prevents you from needing longer breaks.
It’s also equally important to take days off work – there’s a reason weekends were invented, and that’s to give you a couple of days solid rest and recuperation for the week ahead.
Taking a day or two off to break up the week gives you time to relax, do some life admin, and not worry about work.
If you’re in a position to do so, try hiding your work laptop, as it can be tempting to keep checking your emails even on your days off.
Focus On The Important Stuff
It’s far too easy to put off bigger tasks and get the easier, more menial tasks out of the way. It’s important to make sure that you complete the big tasks so they’re not looming over your head and distracting you.
The little tasks are important and shouldn’t be neglected, but they also shouldn’t take up large chunks of your day. Scheduling social media posts, responding to emails, and returning phone calls can be tedious, but they are necessary.
A helpful way of making sure that you get the menial tasks out of the way so you can focus on the larger, more important tasks is by trying the 80/20 rule.
Many successful people in the business world have the 80/20 rule to thank for their success – it’s essentially making sure that you spend 80% of your time on the important, creative, and money-making tasks, and spending 20% of your time on the smaller tasks.
Only an hour or two a day should be spent on the smaller jobs like returning emails or posting on LinkedIn, and abiding by the 80/20 rule will make sure that you have time for the smaller tasks as well as the important, larger tasks.
Another method is by simply creating a to-do list, in order of importance. This can help you to highlight what needs to be done urgently, so you can make sure that you get it completed.
It’s a better approach than a standard to-do list, as you know that you’re getting the main jobs out of the way before you focus on the menial tasks.
It also prevents you from spending the day checking off the smaller tasks such as returning phone calls or drafting emails, and instead highlights what exactly you should be doing.
At the start of the day, spend a few minutes thinking about the most important tasks for the day, and make sure that you place them at the top of your to-do list.
Make a mental note that you must complete them by the end of the day, and then you can tick off the smaller jobs.
Exercise Your Body, Not Just Your Mind
After working for 8 hours, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. However, exercise gets your blood flowing, which can improve your brain activity.
Moving your body for as little as ten minutes per day can reduce stress and improve focus. It can also help you come up with new ideas, which is always beneficial if you’re a business owner, or simply want to climb the career ladder.
If you don’t have time to exercise after work, why don’t you go for a brisk walk on your break, or have a morning jog?