As a society, we appear to be addicted to work. According to entrepreneur and investor John Rampton, employees in the United States work more than 47 hours per week. However, just because we’re working longer, doesn’t mean that we’re more productive.
Rather, we need to invest more hard work in the short-term, which sets us up for an easier work schedule in the long run. It’s not how many hours we put in at the office, it’s how we spend our time while we’re there that counts.
Here are some tips from productivity expert and trainer Peggy Duncan that may help. Give these ideas a try before you start trying to play “beat the clock.”
Keep a work log for a week. Write down everything you do during the day and how long it takes. Include all interruptions on that list, too. At the end of the week, see what’s going on. By analyzing that log, you should be able to figure out a pattern and how you need to shift it. You’ll probably also find out that you spent way more time on Facebook than you thought. Seriously — it’s all written down on the list.
Next, you need to figure out your peak times. Those are the times of day you’re most productive. As many of you know, I’m not a morning person. I never schedule anything important before 9:30 a.m. unless it is an emergency, and I can scare up another can of diet soda. You can get around those non-peak times by blocking your day so you accomplish your most important projects when you’re “on.”
Take a hard look at your strengths and weaknesses. Accept the fact that you’re not an expert at everything. To be more productive, you’ve got to ask for help from people who are better at certain tasks than you are. Then delegate. Free up your own time to work on what you do best. You’ll probably work faster (translation: “smarter”) and may even enjoy your day at the office more.
And according to psychologist Michael Guttridge, go ahead and waste some time. Yep, that’s what he says. Wasting time is actually about recharging your battery. That could mean going for a walk, watching a video or chatting with an office mate. Keep in mind that Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin had schedules that allowed them to work for five hours or less each day.
Good luck as you now enter the “work smarter” zone. If you want to sneak over to the chamber to see how I’m doing with this new mantra, just be sure you don’t come over before 9:30 a.m. — unless you’re bringing me that early morning required can of diet soda.
Lynne Conlan is Executive Director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.