We have this idea that if we work more hours we’ll be more productive. The thing is, research has revealed that is only true up to a level. In fact, scientists would say that the relationship between hours spent at work and the output per hour is non-linear, which means that the relationship isn’t steady. The more hours you work, the less productive you’ll be per hour.
And that makes sense. After all, we’re not machines. If we’re tired, unengaged, frustrated or distracted we’re going to be less capable to deliver a good product than if we’re happy to be there, focused and alert.
The upshot of that is that if you can reduce the number of hours you’re in the office by cutting in the right places, your productivity won’t drop. So where (and how) do you cut?
The first step might sound counterintuitive. Nonetheless, it has been demonstrated to make a huge difference. What’s that? Take those tasks which you spent too much time on because they’re too easy to do and make them harder.
For example, if you have a tendency to check the stock market every ten minutes or get pulled away from your work by each email that comes in, then set it up so that you can’t just go to your portfolio with a click of the button or your email provider sends you a notification whenever a message comes in.
Even better, make sure you have to put in your user details every time you want to check your social media accounts. This will stop you from just going there on a whim, being pulled out of your concentration and ending up wasting lots of time there. Then you can get on with actual work.
And here I’m not talking about work plans. I’m talking about non-work plans. If you make an appointment with the doctor, or at a restaurant, or for your little league game, then during that day you’ll work much harder to squeeze everything you need to do into that time.
After all, you’ve got a deadline by when you want to be out of the office. That means you have a stick behind the door to keep you from procrastinating. And that can be just what you need to get more out of the time you have.
We can’t work at top performance all the time. When we do that, we go cross-eyed and end up making mistakes. For that reason, make sure you give yourself regular breathers by doing easy tasks. Then, when those easy tasks are done go do something more difficult again. If you arrange your day in a hard task — easy task — hard task way, you’ll give your mind time to recuperate from the mental strain of the hard task, even while making sure you still get to the hard tasks.
In this way, you’ll be able to do more in the time you’ve got.
Ultimately, the trick to not spending all your time in the office is making sure you have a reason to leave. This will motivate you to find ways to be more productive and find new strategies to get further in life.
What’s more, there is plenty of research that shows this won’t just make you happier but make you more productive too. That’s because when we’re happy, we are more creative, productive and capable of focusing for longer. And that’s exactly what we need in order to get out of the office faster.
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If you find that you cannot keep up with the most productive version of yourself all the time, you probably have bad habits that are killing your effectiveness. Although considered natural, these habits decrease your mental performance and disrupt your productivity.