No matter what field you’re in, it’s likely that you want to be successful.
And if you’re an entrepreneur, becoming successful involves a great deal of time, energy, and passion. It would seem to make sense, therefore, that the more hours you put in, the greater the outcome.
This isn’t necessarily true, however.
Stanford studies have shown that, after you work more than 50 or so hours per week, your rate of productivity actually begins to slow. So if you’re putting in more than 70 hours a week trying to get more done, but feel like a delirious sloth, you might be better off turning off your computer, unplugging yourself completely from work, and taking a nap.
So how, exactly, can a person work fewer hours and achieve more? It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s not.
What is key here is making each hour count as much as possible. This means that you need to be alert, focused, and driven during your work hours. Staring at your computer screen, slumped over, going cross-eyed after five cups of coffee gets you nowhere.
Let’s take a look at some of the tricks and habits of people who have achieved success by working smarter, not harder in order to work less and get more done.
1. They know when to rest
This is the golden rule to getting more done in less time. As mentioned above, there is no point in dragging your feet if you aren’t covering any miles. There’s a reason weekends were invented, and if you’ve ever worked three weeks without one day off, you’ll know why.
Whether it’s one or, preferably, two days off per week, make sure to completely detach yourself from all work-related tasks. Hide your laptop and make it a point to only check your smartphone when absolutely necessary. This will allow you to recuperate the energy you’ve spent during the week, refocus on new ideas for your business, and stay mentally healthy by having a bit of fun.
2. They focus on what’s importantDevote 80% of your time to high-priority tasks and only 20% necessary busywork. Click To Tweet
There’s a reason why jobs have been created to do menial, or “gopher,” work. It’s not that these tasks are unimportant because oftentimes business wouldn’t flow without them. The problem is that things like social media scheduling, emailing, and returning phone calls can be terrible time-sucks.
The solution? Take a hint from Lifehack and set an 80/20 rule for your working hours. 80% of your time should be devoted to important, creative (i.e. money-making) projects, and only 20% to the gopher work. It’s easy to get caught up with these tasks, so schedule an hour or so per day to get them done, and set reminders for yourself to refocus on what matters after that time period is over.
3. They don’t “make perfect the enemy of good”
Who doesn’t want to be good at everything? As tempting as it sounds, we can’t all be Renaissance men and women. If you haven’t already, write down all of the tasks and associated skills involved with your job. Stop wasting time by trying to be the best SEO specialist when you’re a photographer by trade.
Hire someone to do this work for you, as the many hours you’ve wasted trying to figure out the perfect keywords to “organically” fit into your campaign could have been put to better use. They money you spend will be small in comparison to the great things you’ll conquer with that newly-acquired time.
If you’re just starting out and your savings are shallow, ask a friend to help you out, or learn to barter by trading skills.
4. They make staying active a priority
When you’ve finished an eight or ten-hour work day, the furthest thing from your mind might be exercise.
However, the more your blood circulates, the better your brain will perform. According to Travis Bradberry of Entrepreneur.com, “Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a soothing neurotransmitter that reduces stress. Exercise is also a great way to come up with new ideas. Innovators and other successful people know that being outdoors often sparks creativity.”
Not only will exercise make you healthier, it will also help you to spark your imagination and hone in on your productivity. This is all in less time than it takes to go for a Starbucks run. So get up from your desk, go on a walk, or take up tennis on the weekend. Not only will your life become more balanced, but it will help you accomplish more in less time.
Have you experimented with working less while measuring your productivity levels? If so, what was your experience? Is there anything you would add here?