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Start by doing what is necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Saint Francis of Assisi
A New Zealand company is encouraging all of New Zealand to try a four day work week. Legal Services trust Perpetual Guardian began a six-week trial in February 2018 in which each employee had an extra day off per week. The founder of the company says he will never go back.
The moral is up, they didn’t cut pay to give the extra day off. Staff retention is up, stress levels have dropped and productivity has gone up. Andrew Barnes the founder of the company feels this is an important issue for New Zealand.
The majority of the workforce is now millennials and they are looking for flexibility. He is worried they will resort to unstable “gig jobs” which he feels will have lasting repercussions for New Zealand.
“Gig jobs” don’t have pensions, healthcare, or sick pay. He feels that New Zealand will end up paying that tab. Aren’t gig jobs are just another form of entrepreneurship?
Any kind of contractor has a “gig job” meaning they do work for someone until that project is finished and then they get another project. Painters don’t continue to paint one house. Mechanics don’t only fix one car.
Someone is getting the jobs, and someone is doing the work. In a “gig economy” many entrepreneurs are playing both roles. They get the work, and they do the work.
For some people, this is their idea of freedom. Other people find this lonely and they run out of contacts. Service businesses have a problem in that we can only do what we can do. Is the four hour week the answer for many people who push themselves to get through the day without being really productive for all of the time they spend on the job.
Do we delude our self thinking I’ll get more done, I’ll work evenings and weekends? Instead, do we need to realize there is a limit to the amount of productivity we can get out of our self over the long haul? We can work that weekend, but can we make working weekends the way to handle our workload?
Work expands to fill the time allotted to it. Unknown
A goal is a dream with a deadline. Napoleon Hill
Is the answer working smarter and not harder? What does that look like? It sounds great to say I’m working smarter instead of harder.
Do we need to focus when we are working on work, and when we are not working focus on other things? Are we messing things up by being too focused on work and our productivity is going down? It sounds like an oxymoron, working less gets more done, and working more gets less done. How can this be?
How do we work smarter?
The 80/20 rule suggests a small amount of inputs contributes to a much larger amount of outputs. We need to minimize the time spent on what is unproductive.
Parkinson’s Law states that “work will fill the time available for its completion.” Can we focus on accomplishing the task instead of just filling the hours? If we give ourselves deadlines to finish the project, or at least break it down into chunks we can accomplish in an allotted amount of time we will accomplish more.
Energy management versus time management. We can force ourselves to think of results as a function of energy, not time invested. Working intensely for a short period of time can accomplish more than working for days, tired and distracted.
Work in bursts. Divide yourself between complete rest and complete focus. Switching in-between leave us neither rested nor productive.
Kill projects. Don’t spread tasks that only take a few hours over several days. Sit down and finish them in one sitting. When we kill projects we feel energized, and like we’ve really accomplished something.
Make time for rest, relaxations, exercise, health, fun. Enslaving our self to work can actually accomplish less. We need to master the ability to recharge.
Only use sharp tools. There is a story of two lumberjacks. One grabs his rusty ax and heads for the woods. The second spends a good part of the day sharpening his ax and then heads for the woods. He then fells the biggest tree.
Track your accomplishments. Test out different methods. Figure out if there are better ways of doing things, do A/B tests.
The marginal rule of quality. By putting more time into the project are we really making it better? Would taking more time mean less mistakes, less redo”s? We need to find the most effective way to be the most productive. Are we better if we slow down and do it right the first time, are we better if we speed up and get it out? Are we striving for perfection when good enough is okay?
Canadians spend 300 more hours at work than people in Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. Are we really more productive? Long hours do not necessarily go hand in hand with increased output.
A study from Stanford shows the productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity declines so much after 55 hours there is no point working anymore. They say the people who work as much as 70 hours per week or more actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.
As little as 30 minutes of planning our upcoming week can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress. Many of us think how can I fit that into my schedule? Many productivity experts recommend 30 minutes on Sunday as the time to plan our week.
Designate mornings as “our” time. If we can find a way to engage in an activity we are passionate about first thing in the morning this can pay massive dividends in happiness and cleanliness of mind. Our mind achieves peak performance two-four hours after we wake up. The recommendation is to get up early, do something physical, and then sit down and engage in something mental while our brain is at its peak.
If I didn’t write this blog in the morning before 9:00 it wouldn’t get out most days. At the end of the day, it would be much harder to get done. I don’t think I would have over 200 posts, my output would have been a lot less. By getting it out almost every day, I feel I’ve already accomplished something before I go on with the rest of my day. It’s a boost to the whole day.
Scheduling micro adventures is a way to bring more fun, exercise, and adventure into our lives. Instead of getting on the treadmill we can go for a hike. Studies show that anticipating something good is a significant part of what makes the activity pleasurable. Knowing we have something fun planned for the weekend will not only be fun on the weekend but will also improve our mood all week.
Spend time with our family. We need fifteen hours of uninterrupted time per week with our spouse to create a great marriage. We need to spend time with our kids, parents, siblings to build and maintain strong relationships. Family meals are a great way to fit everyone in, talk, laugh and enjoy each other.
We need to find time to exercise, reflect, and rest. Is building a well-rounded life is worth doing? Will we reap the benefits in all areas of our life? Can we become more productive, improve our relationships, get the exercise we need, eat well, and pursue our passion? We will not have the same amount of time and energy to give to each of these at different points in our life. We will have to find the balance. Is it worth finding the balance?
We may find it easier to find balance than trying to fix the mess we have by letting things get too unbalanced. If we don’t give our spouse 14 hours of uninterrupted time we may have a hard time fixing that when they ask for a divorce. If we didn’t find time for our children, we may never repair that relationship.
Life is a balancing act. The better we get at finding balance the more we will enjoy our life, the more productive and happy we will be. There may be things in our life we think we have to do that aren’t as important as the things we never find time for.
Is our life in balance? Is there a way we could work smarter instead of harder? Are we focusing on the most important things, or are we spending too much time on what seems urgent, but in the long term unimportant. Life is all about choice, are we making the best ones?
Working smart is harder than working hard. It’s just less visible, and we care too much about what others see. Unknown