This isn’t about a 4-Hour Work Week. There is no such thing. It’s about having a productive work day. Not a productive work morning-evening-night, but the 8-10 hours that we put in every day at work. And no, it’s also not about about loving or not loving what you do. Sure, it’s a nice concept and it would be great if we could all be so engaged, but in the real world, not everyone has that privilege or that opportunity right now.
I’m talking about doing only two things — ridding yourself of less-than-productive activities and responsibilities and clocking out at a regular time every day.
Reducing your peripheral vision
Too many things on your plate doesn’t slow you down, it stops you cold. When we’re overburdened, we tend to freeze up. We shut down, completely overwhelmed. If you think that certain tasks, after a period of experimentation don’t fit your strengths, have a conversation with your team about re-evaluating responsibilities.
Even more importantly, examine other responsibilities that are lingering that are not important but may be taking up time and dominating your thought process, affecting your ability to focus on the tasks at hand.
When I started at Rocket Matter, I still held on to fragments of my old CLE entrepreneurial venture. Even though I ramped down the day to day work of the venture, I still offered advice to those who inquired and referred gigs to others. Was it occupying actual time during my work hours? No, but just the knowledge that I needed to respond to a growing list of inquiries gnawed at me throughout the day. After awhile, I determined that it was not related to what I was doing now, and didn’t help, but hindered my productivity and progress.
It was tough to let go of something I had nurtured for years but when I did, it was like flipping a switch. A weight was lifted and my focus and productivity improved. So take a look at activities that may be keeping you back and close them out.
Think your boss is impressed with emails at 10pm? She isn’t. Instead she’s probably wondering why you weren’t focused enough during the work day to get the job done. And, she’s concerned that you’ll burn yourself out and become a less productive member of the team.
Instead, wrap up your work at a regular time each day. This is especially important for those who work from home. Shut down at six. Turn off Skype and email and leave the office, or if you’re home, get out of the house, or continue reading that page-turner of a book. If you give yourself all day and night to complete your work, it’ll take all day and night. But if you allot a scheduled 8-10 hours of work, you’ll become more focused and efficient about how you manage your time and tasks throughout the day.
After adopting these practices and settling into a productive routine, then you can consider other productivity measures like having a dumpster day, using the Pomodoro Technique, or getting to zero email inbox. But start with focus and routine.
Have you gone through a similar process? I’d love to have a discussion in the comments below about how you did it and discover other effective tips and methods, so please don’t hesitate to share.