Wow! How amazing would it be to work one hour less every day. What would you do with this extra free time? How about a sport that you love playing but you never seem to have time for? Reading? Going for a walk in the park?
And of course I mean work one hour less AND get the same amount done each day. Your boss (or your bank account) is not going to be happy if you work less and get less done!
So how can you get the same amount achieved in one hour less per day?
The first thing you need to realize is that you will never get everything done. In fact, you don't need to get everything done in order to be successful. You just need to get the important stuff done. So the first key step is about doing all the important stuff first. In other words, complete your top priorities first thing in the day and leave the less important stuff till later. Here are some tips for actually doing this in practice:
- Make a list of the top six things you want to do each day. Start first with number one, then move on to number two and so on, until you complete all your priorities. Don't start any other tasks until your priorities are completed.
- Remove all communication methods that you don't need for achieving that task. For example, if you are writing an article, shut off your instant messaging, switch your phone to voicemail, don't check your email, and shut the door to your office.
- Get a timer on your computer and work 60-90 minutes straight on a task that needs to be completed.
After prioritization, elimination is one of the most powerful methods of increasing your productivity. There must be some things you do that are really not all that important. Or other things that a lot of your time but are not that important for your overall success. Get rid of them. Or if you can't bear the thought of eliminating them, put them in a list of stuff you categorize as “do it later.” In reality, if you're a busy person you'll probably never get to this stuff. And sometimes when you do get to it a few weeks later, you realize that you don't need to do many of those items anyway.
You can definitely eliminate some things, like unnecessary travel time or even chores around the house by getting someone to do your cleaning, washing and other household jobs. You can also eliminate the bottom 10 percent of your customers. You know, those customers that don't earn you much money but take a lot of your time and effort.
Other productivity tips to give you an extra hour each day
- Eliminate constant switching between tasks and instead focus on completing each task before moving on to the next one.
- Stop checking emails multiple times through the day.
- Handle each email and piece of physical mail one time. Don't leave emails in your inbox where you are constantly thinking you should do something with them. Instead take immediate action, or delete it or archive it. If it's something that will take longer for you to take care of, file it and then put it on your to-do list so that you will get around to it when you make it your priority.
- Don't get stressed if you have a lot to do! Instead, just focus on your top priorities and get those items completed. You achieve true productivity when you can get the most important items accomplished and not get distracted by the dozens of other things that you should perhaps be doing, but are not really that important.
The next step after improving your productivity by one hour per day is to actually take the one hour off! Your temptation or the default option might be to just work that extra hour instead. But discipline is sometimes a bit overrated. It's easy to say “I'll work one hour less” but when you actually try to do it, you may forget and get caught up in your work. How do you actually do it?
Scheduling something after your work is a great way to make it happen. Let's say you normally finish work at 7pm. You want to change that to make your work end at 6pm. You schedule something for 6:30 pm every day after work, leaving 30 minutes to get to your appointment. It could be a yoga class, or it could be as simple as dinner with the kids.
A public declaration is another powerful way to do it. You tell your husband or wife that you promise to be home at a certain time, or tell other people in your life that will hold you accountable to your word. You can also write it down and put it above your work space.
Dealing with the boss
Clearly there are some jobs where you just can't choose to work one hour less per day. If you have a job where you are required to work the precise hours of 9 to 5, it's not going to work. But for most knowledge-workers you can make it happen. Really, this article is designed for the workaholic. For people who are already working long hours and want a bit of balance. If you are already slacking off and only working five hours per day but you want to cut that to four hours, you probably don't need any help on how to work less!
How do you deal with your boss? Basically, you need to convince your boss that you will get as much or more done. You need to be super productive and then you need to prove to your boss that he or she will be better off with you (a super productive person) working one hour less per day but accomplishing more during your shorter work day . If you're producing the results, you can make this happen.