Work Less

Today’s organizations put extraordinary pressure on their employees to work harder and longer. We very often we pack long hours in order to get more stuff done.
Don’t overdo it. It is hardly ever a sensible plan to work until you drop, and if you end up working in irregular and infrequent binges you’ll inevitably under perform, to say nothing of that background feeling of being vaguely out of control. However as more studies investigate people’s productivity it turns out that some people can accomplish more by working less.

Working less and accomplishing more isn’t easy. It requires thinking creatively to find more effective ways of doing things. But first you have to be open to the possibility that your methods aren’t as efficient as they could be. One of the most challenging things is to measure your productivity. Many people think that they work many hours meaning spending their time productively. By measuring the time actually spent on pre-planned work one can discover that many hours spent at work are not spent productively. Measuring the time spent on actual work can be difficult, however with a little bit of self-discipline can be achieved over a short peroid of time and will be sufficient enough to show gaps in the understanding of our own productivity. Re-examine how you work every now and then. Ask how you can improve your own work habits. If you notice your mind is clearer in the morning, schedule your deep-thought activities before noon. If you notice afternoon is best for you, make that your prime time.

One of the ways to work less is to prioritise more and cut some work that is less important. This is called the 80/20 rule (or pareto). The 80/20 rule basically suggests that a small amount of inputs contributes to a much larger amount of outputs. Using this rule means to minimize time spent in the unproductive 80%. In application, you can’t simply cut everything that doesn’t directly contribute to your bottom line. Some things, however trivial, still need to get done. The purpose of 80/20 is to force you to be more ruthless in cutting time in areas that contribute little. Here are a few suggestions:

– Cut e-mail time to invest more in larger projects.
– Say no to people who want commitments that don’t contribute enough value.
– Spend more studying core concepts and key terms than less important details.

1) Set your limit.

Decide the maximum amount of time you are willing to work in a week. It is suggested to set something like 4 days a week. You might be ambitious and shoot for 3 days, or even less. Or you might go for 5 days a week, 6 hours each day instead of 8 hours. Whatever seems ideal to you, go for it! If there’s something you do every day, consider batching it all into one day. For example, you can write all your invoices at once instead of doing them every day. It saves time. You could do that with almost anything. Same thing goes for something you do throughout the day, like email or phone calls. Consider batching tasks like that into one session per day.

2) Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law states that “work will fill the time available for its completion.” This is a side effect of focusing on doing work instead of getting projects completed. Give yourself strict deadlines and cultivate a desire to finish projects, not just check tasks off on a to-do list. If you have a big cut in work hours as your goal, you might not be able to accomplish it all at once. Go for a gradual change. First, set a smaller limit (maybe 1 hour less per day, for example, or only a half day on Fridays). Focus on making that first stage work, and when you’ve got that down, make further cuts. Keep doing this until you get to where you ultimately want to be.

3) Energy Management

Energy management, as opposed to time management, forces you 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. Working yourself into low energy can actually make you accomplish less than if you rested. Here are some ideas:

– Work in bursts. Divide yourself between complete rest and complete focus. Don’t constantly switch in-between which leaves you neither rested or productive.
– Kill projects. Don’t spread tasks that only take a few hours over several days. Sit down and finish them in one sitting. This method of killing projects keeps your energies focused and time saved.
– Rest, health and fun matter. Enslaving yourself to your work can actually accomplish less. Master the ability to recharge yourself when you need it.

4) Only Use Sharp Tools

If you’re really good at something, focus on it. Don’t stray away from it. Just do that and become the leader in your space. If you don’t think you can make enough money focusing on what you’re good at, then figure out what related businesses you can get into. Delegate them to someone who does have a sharp tool. And for the things you do want to master, make it a priority to sharpen your tool beyond what is necessary to cut. Skill saves time. There’s a world of difference between being on top of things and playing catch-up all the time. Stay ahead of the game – read and improve your skills in the areas you’ve chosen to be good. If you are passionate and knowledgeable about a specific subject, you can make money at it and it is very likely that as your knowledge expands so will your creativity.

5) Build your passive income

Passive income is income that does not require your direct involvement. Some kinds of passive income you may be familiar with include owning rental property, royalties on an invention or creative work, and network marketing. If you want to earn more, work less, and have a decent retirement, you’re going to have to start creating income streams that do not require your direct involvement. Whether you’re just starting your business, or you’ve been running it a while, the sooner you start thinking about how you are going to shift your business model to create more passive income, the sooner you can achieve personal and financial freedom.

There are basically two types of passive income:

– Residual Income. Residual income is revenue that occurs over time from work done one time.

Residual income is also known as passive or recurring income and is different from a regular wage that’s based on the number of hours invested in a particular job. Residual income continues to generate itself even after the work has been completed. Such income helps you earn more while working less as it continues to pay recurrently for work done once. Often, it’s something that you can delegate to an assistant. Note that residual income is different from merely recurring income. Recurring income may still require your involvement to earn the income. While this “active recurring income” offers welcome stability, it also tends to tie you down, and you still have limits on your earning capacity based on your own personal production capacity.

– Leveraged Income. Leveraged income leverages the work of other people to create income for you.

In case of the leveraged income here too there are many different models in many different businesses. The key is that you are making money off of other people’s labor, rather than primarily your own. Some examples include: A general contractor who makes a profit margin on the work done by sub-contractors, Franchising your business model to other entrepreneurs, An e-book author selling her e-book through affiliates who promote the product. Note that leveraged income may or may not also be residual income. When you combine them, that’s even better.

6) Build stronger relationships.

Ask for help! When you’re trying to reach a Huge Honkin’ Goal, ask friends and colleagues for help. Build the relationship in advance, however, by being there for them starting today. No person is an island. Learn to understand and motivate others. Successful people develop and nurture a network and they only do that by treating people openly, fairly and many times firmly. There is nothing wrong about being firm – just don’t cross the a-hole line. Ask yourself questions like: How do you deal with people? How can you leverege other’s expertese to team up and get more done with help of others.
One of the methods of getting done more is by making a transition from a regular work governed by a fixed number of hours to freelancing. Freelancing is becoming increasingly popular as a career option. Freelancers complete projects or tasks for employers on a temporary basis as governed by a contract or agreement. A freelancer works from their own home and on their own flexible time. Thanks to this flexible feature, freelancing has become very popular among professionals. Freelancing can be a gateway to gaining more control and managing the time yourself. Mismanaged however can be very tempting to spend even more hours.

A number of previous studies have suggested a link between working long hours and a depressed mood. So investigators at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki studied over 2,000 white collar workers over a 5 year period. Subjects’ average age was 47, and they were free of any mental health issues upon entering the study. Other variables that were controlled for included gender, substance abuse, social support and socioeconomic status.

The results: Both men and women who consistently worked 11 hours per day or longer had more than two times the risk of developing depression when compared with those people who worked 8 hours or less per day. The results of this study were published in the Journal Plos One last month. Another recent study, looking at 10,000 employees in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine had a similar outcome with patients demonstrating increased levels of depression and anxiety in those who worked the most overtime hours.

The increased risk to develop depression with working long hours may ultimately stem from the following series of events: those who work more hours generally experience higher levels of stress, sleep less, and exercise less. People who work long hours often tend to socialize less, and spend less time with their families and significant others. They may not eat healthy foods, and have an increased risk for developing substance abuse to fight work fatigue. All of the aformentioned reasons may ultimately lead to a higher incidence of heart disease.