Long Hours = More Productivity?

Long Hours = More Productivity?

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The old saying goes "there is a difference between working smart, and working hard."

The average American works 47 hours. Studies show that 4 in 10 Americans work over 50 hours per week -- 2 in 10 work over 60 hours per week. How much is too much and where does productivity drop? Your productivity actually diminishes after 50 hours, and people work most effectively in 90 - 120 minute time blocks.

So how do we squeeze more production out of our day? Let's focus on 3 areas:

1. Multi-tasking

2. Time management matrix

3. Procrastination


1. True or false, multi-tasking allows you to get more work done?

FALSE!

Multitasking is defined as the ability of a person to get multiple tasks done at the same time. Research shows that tasks can take 20 - 60% longer to complete because you are not completely focused. In fact it can actually lower your IQ!

Avoid multitasking by making a few changes to your day and technology:

  1. Schedule blocks of time in your calendar to complete certain tasks, then - turn off your email notifications (or close Outlook) until you are done with the task you are on.
  2. Do the same with all other distractions (turn your cell phone off, or at least silence it), close your office door.
  3. "Reprogram" your email habit to check for messages 2 or 3 times a day on a set schedule.

Research shows that it takes a person up to 15 minutes to regain focus on a task after they have been distracted.

2. Time Management matrix

Stephen Covey developed a matrix of 4 areas we spend out time in: 1)Important - Urgent; 2) Important - Not Urgent; 3) Not important - Distraction; and 4) Not important - Time wasting. These four areas are defined as 1) Fire fighting; 2) Quality time; 3) Distraction; and 4) Time wasting.

We want to spend out time in quadrant 2 (Important - not urgent) - how do you do that?

  1. Delegate effectively any tasks that are more appropriately handled by someone else.
  2. Be selfish with you time. Limit or eliminate distractions to your day, utilize blocking off time in your calendar to complete tasks and stick to it! Prioritize your tasks for the day, week, month.
  3. Spend the last 20 minutes of your day planning for tomorrow. Having a plan will help you stay focused and on track.

3. Procrastination

Brian Tracy gave us a great example in his book, Eat That Frog. The saying is attributed to Mark Twain and the concept is simple: Take on and complete the most challenging and difficult task you have first (your frog), and be done with it (eat it).

When you put off a task for whatever reason, it never really goes away. It's in your subconscious and will distract you from being productive because you know it has to be done at some point. It drags down your productivity for that day or several days you keep putting it off.

Block off the time, reduce the distractions and eat that frog! You'll have a great feeling of accomplishment and motivation to tackle the next task on your plate.


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