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It Is Magically Possible To Work Less And Still Do More

It Is Magically Possible To Work Less And Still Do More

Working long hours is pretty common these days. If your Monday to Friday feels like a constant slog of work and projects with no real time for a breather, is this because you have too much work or is it because you’re not using your time efficiently?

It’s easy to spend too much time perfecting something or equally not focusing enough so you end up dragging the task out more than you should. So does working longer hours mean you’re being productive and getting lots done? The answer is most likely no. When you work consistently long hours or spend too much time on a task, it’s usually a sign that you actually just have too much to do. More importantly, it’s a sign you’re not spending your time, energy and attention wisely.

The Myth About Working More to Get More Done

Our lives are governed by the jobs, tasks and projects we set ourselves or set by our work environment. When you feel like the amount of stuff you need to get done gets bigger, our natural reaction is to work longer on them in order to get them completed.

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How many times have you heard someone tell you in an exasperated fashion that they spent 9am-9pm at the office working on something? Our reply is usually one of awe in terms of how hardworking they must be. But are they really? Productivity is heard to measure but if one person spent 2 hours on a task that someone else could have completed in half an hour, it’s more a case of having stretched out the task unnecessarily.

Working more to get more done only drains you of your energy both physically and mentally in the long run and potentially turns you into a ‘workaholic’. This leads to you not optimally producing the results you need and could end up with feelings of failure, demotivation and burnout.

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    What it Really Means to Work Long Hours

    While working long hours may seem the best way to get things done, in practice it means you actually have less time to recharge and refocus – two things that are vital for lessening stress and gaining more energy. When we have a lot to do, we often focus on the amount of time we invest in completing necessary tasks but instead we should be paying attention to how much energy and focus we’re investing.

      Time is quite the illusion when it comes to getting things done. The more time you spend on work, the more that the minute-by-minute urgency lessens. Yet when we have a limited amount of time, the more we’re forced to focus and use our energy optimally in order to get it done. Therefore, the more you control how much time you spend on a task, the more you can control the energy in an efficient way to get it done. An example of this could be those moments when you’d leave those college assignments to the last minute – that time limited pressure probably caused you to channel a larger amount of energy over a shorter period and so you got it done relatively much quicker than usual.

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      The problem that long hours brings, is that feeling of productivity. Obviously productivity is a good thing but as Chris Bailey explains in his book The Productivity Project, experiments he conducted lead him to find that he felt much more productive working long hours than in shorter bursts even though he was getting the same amount of work done.

      This only proves that busyness doesn’t always equal optimal productivity. In fact, productivity is an elusive idea. It’s hard to truly know how much we accomplish each day yet we tend to measure this according to how busy we were. However, it’s seldom accurate and can cause us to believe we’ve achieved more than we potentially could have given a more short and focused approach.

      The ‘Less is More’ Approach to Optimal Productivity

      First and foremost, when it comes to important tasks less is more! And by this I mean the amount of time you spend on getting the tasks done. When you do this, a few significant things will happen.

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      • Setting a deadline for yourself motivates you to expend more energy and focus in a shorter amount of time.
      • You create a needed urgency around the task.
      • You eliminate many of the procrastination triggers that can form over long periods. This is because you’re creating structure which helps stop the mind getting bored, frustrated and distracted.

      Ideally, you should try to become more mindful of your working patterns and level of productivity. As a start, take note of your habits and list what tasks you’ve fully completed in a day. Write done how much time it took you to complete each task and use it to reflect on why some tasks took longer than others. Is there a way you could have spent less time completing a task? How could you improve this?

      One helpful method for keeping note of the amount of time you spend on things, is a productivity tracking app. These automatically keep track of your time spent working on various tasks all on your desktop, laptop or mobile device.

      Setting deadline reminders for yourself is another way to keep yourself on track and motivate you to spend your energy wisely in shorter, more focused bursts.

      So remember to work smart not work hard. Using our minds optimally means shortening the periods of time we need to concentrate. Don’t get sucked in to believing all those long hours mean you’ve been extra productive. Instead start becoming more mindful of how to get things done quicker with equal efficiency. This will transform your life and free up more time for living.

      Featured photo credit: Lisa Fotios via pexels.com

      More by this author

      Leon Ho

      Founder & CEO of Lifehack

      50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster What Is a Habit? Understand It to Control It 100%

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      Last Updated on November 20, 2019

      How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

      How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

      Everyone sets goals. Whether they are daily goals like completing a project, personal aspirations like traveling the world, or even workplace targets, setting a goal isn’t enough to get you over the line unfortunately. This is why only eight percent of people achieve their goals.[1]

      So how do the high achievers do it?

      By setting measurable goals, keep track of them and progress towards these goals.

      To help you out, I’ve put together a simple guide on measuring goals. I’ll show you a SMART framework you can use to create measurable goals, and how you can track its progress.

      To begin, let me introduce you to the SMART acronym.

      What Is a Measurable SMART Goal?

      SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. They help set clear intentions, this way, you can continue staying on course.

      When you’re writing a SMART Goal, you need to work through each of the terms in the acronym to ensure it’s realistic and achievable.

      It’ll help you set specific and challenging goals that eliminate and vagueness and guesswork. It’ll also have a clear deadline so you know when you need to complete it by.

      Here’s what SMART stand for:

      Specific

      Your goals need to be specific. Without specificity, your goal will feel much harder to complete and stick to.

      They should also have a specific outcome. Without the outcome, it will be hard to focus and stay on task with your goals.

      I can’t stress this enough. In fact, two researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, found that when people set specific yet challenging goals, it led to increased performance 90 percent of the time.[2]

      Here’s an example of a specific goal:

      Increase sales by 10% in 90 days. 

      Measurable

      You need to be able to measure these goals.

      Examining a key metric and quantifying your goals will help track your progress. It will also identify the mark at which you’ve completed your task.

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      Measurable can mean many different things, but generally speaking, you want to be able to objectively measure success with a goal.

      Whether it’s via analytical data, performance measures, or direct revenue, ensure your goal is quantifiable.

      Achievable

      Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

      Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal, so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

      Relevant

      Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

      Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

      Timely

      This is one of my favorite parts of SMART goals….setting the deadline.

      The timeframe will create a sense of urgency. It functions as a healthy tension that will springboard you to action.

      Examples of Measurable Goals

      Now that we know what a SMART goal is, it’s time to help you make your own SMART goal.

      Let’s start with the first step: specificity.

      Specific

      A specific goal should identify:

      • What’s the project or task at hand?
      • Who’s responsible for the task? If you’re breaking the task down, who is responsible for each section?
      • What steps do you need to do to reach your goal?

      Here’s a bad example:I want to have a better job.

      This example is poor because it’s not specific enough. Sure, it’s specific to your work, but it doesn’t explain whether you want a promotion, a raise, a career change, etc.

      What about your current job do you want to improve? Do you want to change companies? Or are you striving for more work-life balance? What does “better” really mean?

      Let’s transform this into a good example.

      I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.

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      If you’re not too sure what the specific outcome should be, you can use mindmaps to brainstorm all the possible options. Then choose a few or one from the mindmap.

      With the example above, to become a better growth marketer, I have to explore different learning options like online courses, blogs, books, or in-person courses before I made a decision.

      Measurable

      Goals need to be measurable in a way where you can present tangible, concrete evidence. You should be able to identify what you experience when reaching that goal.

      Ideally, you should go for a metric or quantity as quantifying goals makes it easier to track.

      Here’s a bad example:

      I will get a promotion at work for improving quality

      Here’s a good example:

      I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.

      If you’re having difficulty measuring your goals, you can use a goal tracking app. They’re a great way to measure your progress, especially if it’s time-based.

      In addition, I love to use the following strategy to keep myself accountable and ensure I’m hitting goals:

      Reminder emails.

      I schedule emails to myself asking for measurable data on my goals, and even CC others to hold me accountable.

      For example, if you work with a team, CC them on your email to keep yourself honest and on-track.

      Here are five methods you can use to measure your progress towards the goal:

      1. Keep a record – Have you recorded all your actions?
      2. Assess your numbers/evidence – Are you breaking your commitments?
      3. Create a checklist – Can you simplify your tasks?
      4. Stay on course – Are you moving forward with your plan smoothly?
      5. Rate your progress – Can you do better?

      Achievable

      When it comes to being able to achieve your goals, you should stick to Pareto’s principle. If you’re not too sure what it is, it’s the 80/20 rule.

      Don’t just attack and go for everything at once! Pick things that give you the most results. Then, work on the next objective or goal once you’ve completed your first ones.

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      Here’s a bad example:

      To get more work-life balance, I will examine all factors of my work and how to trim down the time I spend on them.

      Here’s a good example:

      This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others. 

      Relevant

      It’s always important to examine your goal to ensure it’s relevant and realistic to what you’re doing.

      This is where the bigger picture comes in.

      Here’s a bad example:

      I want to be promoted to CMO because I need more responsibility.

      In this case, it’ll be unlikely for you to receive a promotion if the purpose and reason behind your goals are not strong.

      Here’s a good example:

      I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.

      The why will help you grind out in moments when you just want to throw in the towel, and also provide more purpose for your goals.

      Timely

      And…finally we’ve hit the deadline.

      Having a due date helps your team set micro goals and milestones towards the goal.

      That way, you can plan workload throughout your days, weeks, and months to ensure that your team won’t be racing against the clock.

      Let’s start with a bad example:

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      I’m going to land a new promotion this summer.

      Now, let’s turn this into a great example:

      Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

      So that’s how you create a measurable goal.

      Here’s a summary of the example above in the order of its acronyms.

      Overall Goal: I want to transition into a new role with a reputable company.

      • S: I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.
      • M: I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.
      • A: This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others.
      • R: I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.
      • T: Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

      But before we finish off, I want to leave you with a note:

      If you want to ensure you reach your goals, make sure you’re accountable. Ensure that you will stick by the goal and deliver the results that you want. Because sometimes, the goal might not just be for you. It could be goals for your clients, customers, and even loved ones.

      For example:

      Here, Housecall Pro promises customers that they grow up to 30% in one year.

      By placing that statement on their landing page, they’re keeping themselves and their goals accountable to their customers.

      For personal goals, tell your friends and family.

      For professional goals, you can tell your peers, colleagues, and even your clients (once you’re ready).

      Bottom Line

      So to wrap things up, if you want to measure a goal, be SMART about it.

      Start with a specific outcome in mind; make sure it’s measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely to your existing schedule.

      While 92 percent of people fail to reach their goals, you can be the exception.

      Reach your goals by setting targets and objectives together.

      More About Goals Setting

      Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

      Reference

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