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10 Simple Ways To Maximize Productivity And Stop Working Long Hours

10 Simple Ways To Maximize Productivity And Stop Working Long Hours

You don’t get a gold star for working more hours than everyone else in your office. The amount of time you spend at work says nothing about the quality of your work, so why not maximize productivity? You will get more done in less hours, saving time for the important things that really make you happy!

1. Focus on the Most Important Things.

You cannot do every single thing, every single day. Write down the three most important things that must get done and focus on that. If you knock those tasks out with plenty of time to spare, then you can add the next three important things. Before you begin any task, ask yourself, “Am I doing this for a good reason or am I just passing time?” Answer honestly and adjust as necessary.

2. Wake Up Early.

We all have the same number of hours per day, but we all don’t make the most out of those available hours. There are a few strategies you can use to start your day right. Choose the one that sounds most beneficial to you:

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Option A: Eliminate the biggest source of stress.

If you would stop thinking about how much you don’t want to do the thing AND JUST DO THE THING ALREADY, you’ll be a lot less stressed. Due to this reality, let’s just isolate the thing that stresses you out the most and get it over with ASAP. No excuses. No complaining. Get it done!

Option B: Start with the most important task.

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If one thing HAS to get done today, what is it? Do that. You’ll feel happy and accomplished, giving you energy to get through the rest of the day.

Option C: Feed your brain with words.

Not everyone can wake up and start working right away. Sound like you? Grab a book and read a few chapters with a cup of coffee or hot tea (bonus points if you do it outside with the sun rising and birds singing). Your brain will be ready to go after it gets a healthy dose of inspiration.

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3. Close the Door.

This is especially important for writers: if the door is shut, that means you are working and no one shall enter. It can take a little while to get your creative juices flowing, so being faced with constant distractions will take a toll on your productivity by the time you start-and-stop-and-start-again-and-stop-again-and-(you get the idea). If you are an office worker, the same rule applies: if you need to focus, tell your co-workers you need some quiet to finish (insert incredibly important thing here) and would appreciate it if they left you alone unless it’s an emergency.

4. Do One Thing at a Time.

Multi-tasking is just a slightly more productive version of procrastination. Stop kidding yourself.

5. Silence Your Phone.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time focusing on writing articles like this when I am interrupted by buzzing, chirping, or ringing from my cell phone every few minutes. There is no text that requires an immediate answer. It can wait.

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6. Re-charge Your Batteries.

While focus is the key that unlocks your productivity, there comes a time when the best thing to do is walk away. We are not meant to work for hours-on-end without a break from the grind. Working beyond your limits will only result in sub-par work that takes much longer to complete than it should.

7. Ask for Help.

It is more efficient to ask for help when it is needed than it is to stubbornly plow forward. I don’t know the first thing about design, but I know a whole lot of people who do (so I seek their input when I need it). Even if you don’t know a person with the answer to your question, you could get help VIA a simple Google search. You cannot be the expert of everything, so seek outside help to save your time (and sanity).

8. Group Similar Tasks Together.

Different tasks require different mind-sets for effective completion. For example: writing a helpful article, crafting a thoughtful e-mail, studying for an exam, and making a sales call are very different tasks that require very different executions. Why not set one or two times where you send every e-mail, make every phone-call, or write every letter? Surely you have noticed that it typically takes longer to start a chore than it does to actually complete it. Knocking out similar tasks, all in a group, will eliminate the time it takes to set-up for each task, so you’ll have more time to enjoy your day.

9. Exercise for 30 Minutes Each Day.

A quick bout of exercise will boost your energy, helping you carry yourself with ease. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, will leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated. Your body is the vessel that carries you throughout this world, so treat it accordingly.

10. Know Your Limits.

Getting more done in less time is great, but as time goes on it becomes harder and harder to make a task any more productive than it is. If you can’t take your productivity any further, shift your focus to the quality of your work (because isn’t that the point anyway?). Also, if seeking ever-growing productivity starts to drain the joy out of your work, let it go. Just because we can do something faster doesn’t mean we really need to. As Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

How do you maximize productivity at work and home? If you could have an extra hour or two per day, what would you do with it?

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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