Does working more mean getting more done? That’s a common misconception, but the truth is, you need to work smarter, not harder. I used to work 13 hours a day, thinking that the extra time would help me get more done. According to a report by Staples, 70 percent of Americans believe the same and work more than 40 hours a week. But, actually the opposite is true. Those extra hours just ending up making you tired and burned out.
Now, I work just five hours a day, and I actually get more done and am making a greater impact on my business than I did when I worked 13 hours. But how?
As he noted in an article for The Economist, C. Northcote Parkinson stated, “It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This is now known as Parkinson’s Law. Basically, no matter how many hours you work, you’re still going to get the same amount of work done. So, it’s important to learn how to manage your time wisely and be more productive.
Here’s how I do it:
1. Manage your energy, not your time.
It’s impossible to be perfectly productive for an entire day. On Twitter, leadership expert Robin Sharma wrote, “Productivity is less about what you do with your time, and more about how you run your mind.” How you run your mind will depend on your energy level. Most people have a certain time of day when they are most productive. Perhaps it’s the early hours of the morning or right before lunchtime, or maybe you’re a night owl. For me, I have the lowest energy from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. So, guess what? I stop working at 2 p.m. and go home.
2. Purge useless tasks.
Twice a year, I sit down and do this exercise: I make a list of all of the tasks I do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Then, I group the tasks based on importance. This allows me to figure out what tasks I’m spending too much time on — ones that I’d be better off letting someone else do.
Doing this exercise also shows me what tasks I maybe need to hire someone for or what I can outsource. Try making your own list to see how you can streamline your work. Ask yourself, “What can only be done by me?” Everything else can be delegated to someone else on your eam.
3. Embrace technology.
Staples also found that 75 percent of the American workers it surveyed don’t believe they have access to the latest efficiency-boosting technology. If this is you, you need to change what you’re doing. Technology can help you increase your productivity astronomically — and in multiple areas.
One of my favorite tools is Pick.co, which I use to manage my calendar. Calendly is another great option. These tools allow you to set your schedule and share it with others so they know when you are available and when you’re not.
You should also implement a system for your task list and to-do list. I use Things, and if I don’t put a task on my Things, it’s not going to get done. Tools like Google Analytics and Profitwell also help me gauge the success of my marketing efforts. I can see whether or not traffic is growing and revenue is going up. If not, I know I need to focus my efforts somewhere else.
4. Choose your top three things.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
What are your top three priorities? These should be your main focus each day. Only choose to work on tasks that move the needle and make an impact on your business. This will allow you to work smarter. (And because I work smarter, I can run my two multimillion-dollar companies, travel a few times a month, manage 20-plus people around the world and still have dinner with my wife and a life.)
5. Save admin for the weekend.
Working through the weekend won’t help you any more than working 16 hours a day during the week, but by scheduling a few strategic work sessions on the weekend, you can set yourself up to have a more productive week.
I like to take Saturday and Sunday mornings and do my admin tasks or my “heads-down work.” During those two to three hours, I’m more likely to get more work done since there are few distractions and I’m better able to focus. Don’t forget to take time to enjoy your weekend and days off. When you do, you’ll come back refreshed and ready to take on the week.