How to Work Less but Finish More?

dreamy ethnic businessman thinking about project
Photo by Michael Burrows on <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>

If we want to be more efficient, we need to learn how to work smarter.

I have been always fascinated by people who glorify others who work beyond office hours. Moreover, these people are rewarded over the people who actually deliver good results. This is a sad reality in the professional world that there are still a lot of managers and bosses who still see that working overtime equates productive work of their employees. However, that is not the case anymore in the 21st Century.

People who tend to work beyond the working hours are the unproductive ones. Why? It only shows that they cannot get the job done at a given time. In short, they cannot deliver the results that were asked of them because they were doing TikTok all day were probably distracted by something else during working hours. Perhaps, a short coffee-break chat at work, social media, or just simply being a busybody pretending to keep moving around just to show that they are doing something.

Productivity has been taught in schools for ages work/machine problems in Mathematics. Let’s say there are 8 people who can finish painting a house in 4 days and there are 4 people who can finish the same job 8 days, it shows that the eight people can finish the job earlier. That’s what we wanted, to finish things earlier so we can Make Time for what is truly important.

Nevertheless, Dr. Ali Abdaal presented a better productivity equation that can be used as a better measuring stick with regard to productivity.

Productivity = Useful output/Time x Fun Factor.

Dr. Ali Abdaal

Meaning to say, if you can provide a useful output in less time (times the fun factor) then that is truly being productive.

#1 Work Smarter by Acknowledging that Hard Work Does not Equate Success

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

First, we have to clear it out in our heads. Don’t envy those people who work hard but cannot provide results. We are living in the 21st Century and most companies today ask only one thing for their employees: “Can you do the job?”. Workforce has shifted from time-based work to results-based work. Take a look at Henry Ford when he decided to shift his company into result-based productivity. We could see that production has been changed drastically, compared to others.

When I was younger, I used to write on my CV that I am hardworking and very dependable. Not anymore. I will never go back to the idea that working hard is one of my assets. I am not saying that we should not work hard, but we should work smarter. Getting the job done in less time is always better than doing hard work without delivering results.

#2 Work Smarter by Planning Your Day Ahead

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

One of the things that I treasure the most is my daily planning and reflection. I make most of my decisions early morning so that I can be on autopilot mode during my day. I write down at most six tasks on my Bullet Journal that I must finish within that day.

Planning my day ahead has been really helpful for me because things become clearer on what I need to get done. As the old saying goes, “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” Having all my appointments, notes, tasks, and files needed for the day gives me direction on what my day would look like.

Of course, there would never be such a thing as a perfect day. Life happens when you are busy planning. We could get sick, an emergency may arise, or maybe we simply don’t feel like doing it. These reasons are all valid. But having a guide each day can drive your life in a specific direction.

#3 Work Smarter by Dedicating Time to Do Just One Task

It has been one of the most difficult things for me because I easily get distracted. If you’re like me, and your mind is all over the place, then it must be difficult to focus. I have learned about the Pomodoro Technique for quite some time and it has been my training wheels whenever I want to get something done through focusing on my work.

Writing this article would be an example of what a dedicated time to do just one task means. I turned on Focus Mode on my iPad and start writing on my writing app of choice, Bear. Afterward, I started blocking an hour in the morning just to freely express my thoughts and let my fingers fly through the keyboard.

I also turn on Do Not Disturb mode on my phone just to make sure I won’t get notifications from it as well as from my watch. Focus has been quite difficult to achieve since we are living in the digital age where our attention has its own economy. There has been even a study that has been conducted which says that it will take a person around 23 minutes just to get back to their focus if they get distracted.

The Myth of MultiTasking

I used to wear multitasking as a badge of honor. I feel proud that I can do multiple things at the same time. However, the quality of my work is not as good as one expects it to be. There is no such thing as multitasking, but there is only “task-switching.” Let me explain.

Our computing devices such as our computers, tablets, and phones know this concept. If there are many apps or tabs open, then it requires more memory and power to run all those things together. Even our smartphones know how to freeze apps that are currently at bay and use only power to the app we are currently using. Even AI has evolved into processing things properly as a human brain does.

Task switching costs more power than we would expect. Studies show that it would take around 23 minutes to return to a laser focus mode after a person has been distracted. It means that we can work efficiently if we can maintain our focus with great momentum while we are working. Focus takes time to achieve. Once we are able to focus, we can do quality work in a fraction of time.

#4 Work Smarter by Being Mindful Why You Wanna Be Productive

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

I’ll stop working when I’m done. Not when I’m tired,

This has been my mantra before thinking the “Sleep is for the weak.” I used to believe that working more hours means I would be able to do more things compared to others. I caught myself to this exact statement that I tried to measure my productivity with regards to my view of “worth”. I tend to compare myself to others and there is this idea that if I am not doing “more”, I cannot achieve more.

Things have changed when I started becoming more mindful about “WHY” am I doing what I am doing? Bullet Journaling has been a great help with regard to answering my WHY. It added value to my life to be more mindful while staying productive. I realized that there are a lot of things I wanted to do with so little time because I wanted to prove myself to other people. Which is not a good reason for me to be on top of my game.

Being mindful and being productive is possible. We have to be careful about choosing what we should do by asking difficult questions such as WHY we want to do WHAT we want to do. With that, I discovered my desire for writing. It has been part of my routine to just express my thoughts freely by hitting keys on the keyboard. It has been my joy to add value to someone else’s life as I continue to share my journey.