Want To Do More? Easy. Work Less!

Innovation28 February 2019

THE TRICK IS NOT TO WORK HARDER, IT’S TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO WORK SMARTER

Charles Darwin reputedly only worked for about four hours a day, while novelist Stephen King claims anything more is “strenuous”. Some may call it idle, others know it’s efficient. And the evidence suggests we can all learn from working smarter. Here are some starting points…

1. TRY THE FOUR-DAY WEEK
“There is no downside,” claimed Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes, after the New Zealand financial company successfully trialled four days on, three days off for staff (who were still paid for five). The firm found that giving people more time to manage their home lives made them far more focused and productive when they were at work.

2. USE THE 80/20 RULE
Efficiency gurus suggest that office workers spend 80 per cent of their time in an ‘inefficient zone’ and make most of their real progress in the other 20 per cent. They say to cut back on emails, spend time on big ideas rather than details, and set timers to finish smaller projects.

3. WORK A SIX-HOUR DAY
The Swedish city of Gothenburg trialled a working day that was two hours shorter than the norm for its employees who worked at care homes for the elderly. They found that it led to happier, healthier employees, a higher quality of service for the people they looked after, fewer people taking sick leave, and a more sustainable and equal labour market. What’s not to like?

4. DECLUTTER YOUR LIFE
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka the Minimalists, host a podcast helping people to live more efficient lives. They suggest decluttering your life completely – from throwing out stuff to cleansing your email’s inbox – in order to work faster.

5. USE SHARP TOOLS
It pays to spend more time sharpening your axe than hacking away at a tree with a blunt one. A particularly useful tool for managers, the moral is that you shouldn’t get bogged down in areas in which you’re not an expert. Instead, focus on what you’re good at and delegate all the things that you’re not so strong on. Experts work more quickly, so the theory goes, and therefore go home earlier!

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