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5 Times When Less Is More At Work

5 Times When Less Is More At Work

How many times do you say ‘I haven’t got enough time’ at work? If you are like me, probably a few times a day at least. The bad news is we are not using our time productively. The good news is with a few hacks, we can say less is more at work.

1. Take a few more breaks

This seems like a contradiction when time is so scarce. But when you think about it, it makes sense because when you are tired, you make more mistakes and are prone to bad decisions. Research shows the more breaks you have the more productive you become. Breaks can be a respite from mental activity such as surfing the web or a more physical one when you stretch, talk a walk outside or have a real coffee break. Watch the video below where, in a few more enlightened companies, the policy is to take, not just a break, but a nap!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t9wKu2s0GQ

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The results are there for all to see. Healthier, more relaxed employees work better and are more productive.

2. Spend less time gossiping

Gossip can be trivial or toxic. When you start wasting time on the toxic stuff, be prepared for this to come back and haunt you. It can spoil relationships and fuel resentment. The statistics on this are shocking as well. According to some Dutch researchers, a whopping 90% of office conversation is gossip. It also creeps into emails where it can take up as much as 15%.

So, while gossip can be useful sometimes in helping to isolate slackers, it is generally best to avoid. The first thing you can do is leave it out of your emails. That is a good start. For the rest, gossip is like weeds in the lawn and your best defense is your right to remain silent, when you feel it is choking the atmosphere. If you have problems in escaping, don’t forget you have an important phone call to make!

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3. Cut out being overly competitive

If you are competitive and trying to get one up on your colleagues all the time, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. According to one UK poll conducted by YouGov, about 33% of workers are very competitive. But almost half of the workers surveyed thought this destroyed team spirit.

Competition can be positive, of course. Most employees want to get up that career ladder. You have to find a good balance, though. If you are always trying to be the best and are always sucking up to the boss, then this will breed mistrust and resentment. You could become very unpopular.

4. Reduce multi-tasking

Reducing multi-tasking can have enormous benefits. With a little bit of better planning, you can get going on projects and keep a laser focus on the important tasks. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

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  • Cut your to-do list to the bare minimum of the top five priorities. This is the recommendation from Laura Vanderkam, who wrote the book, “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.”
  • Stop the knee-jerk reflexes when responding to emails as they come in. Yes, I know some emails require an immediate response but they are in a minority. You can also alert colleagues they cannot expect a reply within a certain time span.
  • Try to do the top priority tasks early in the morning before you get submerged by phone calls and meetings. Make sure this time is not interrupted.
  • Make sure incoming message notifications on all your devices are blocked.
  • Use your smartphone alarms to help you stay on task.

“Email is the world’s most convenient procrastination device.” Julie Morgenstern

5. Spend less time eating at your desk

If you think grabbing a sandwich to eat at your desk is a good idea, think again! This reduces your networking time with colleagues and associates when you could be eating with them. This time is a great investment because you can:

  • Build a more extensive network
  • Concentrate on getting to know other hubs and units
  • Ask for help and advice
  • Share tips on problem-solving
  • Discuss new projects

Think about that sandwich. It saved you 20 minutes but was that a wise investment of your time?

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Try cutting out all the time wasting unproductive stuff we have mentioned above. Go for more laser-focused work and you will be able to leave the office on time, instead of burning the midnight oil. Let us know in the comments how you discovered less is more at work.

Featured photo credit: Time to go home/Alan Cleaver via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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