Productivity is a hot topic for a long time for all kinds of workers and there are countless articles, books and videos out there to tell you how to be more productive. This is not one of them. In this post, I would like to focus on the “why” instead of how.
I observed two main reactions from people when it comes to increasing productivity. One group tries to increase productivity to get more work done during their work day. Second group finds it irritating that productivity techniques are robotizing humans to squeeze more work out of them. What if you could use the power of productivity to get essential work done in a smaller amount of time and have the rest for yourself to enjoy the moments of your life?
In 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that, 15 hour work week would be possible for his grandchildren with technological change and productivity improvements in the next a hundred years. With only 10 years left, we are not even close to achieving this soon. According to today’s economists, there are reasons for that, including:
- There are more things to buy today compared to 1930, so people want to consume more and this has driven the desire for more work.
- Wages have risen and opportunity costs have increased, so people have not made the trade-off for leisure as much as Keynes believed they would.
Mankind has fallen into the trap of over consumption. Working hard is cool, consuming hard is not. We should be aware that when we pay for something, we pay it with our time which we have spent to earn that amount of money. If we keep desiring for more, it makes it unlikely for us to achieve that 15 hour work week any soon. But if your goal is to protect your life standards and have more time for yourself and your loved ones, keep reading.
Recent studies show that we waste 21.8 hours each week. This is more than half of our working hours. What if we could eliminate these low value activities and save that time for ourselves and still be successful at our job?
What is wasted time for you?
Wasted time has different meanings to everyone. I personally count socializing and connecting with co-workers as quality time while someone else may think it is wasted time, so make your definitions first. The study I mentioned above takes time spent for browsing on social media, unimportant emails, requests and meetings as wasted. What is low value and high value activity means to you?
Analyse your time, how much do you waste?
Go back and self-reflect on your work days. How much time do you spend on high-value activities and how much do you waste on garbage? You can benefit from Four Quadrants of Time Management in order to categorize your activities and eliminate the ones that don’t matter.
Enable your “Focus Mode” to avoid interruptions
Staying focused is a subtle art, but once you master it thrives you like nothing else. Again you would find many articles and videos on this topic so I will only summarize my favorite ways to stay focused in order to get things done faster.
- How to avoid interruptions? Turning off notifications from chat apps like Slack, Skype, MS Teams etc would help. Urgent things will find you anyhow. Keep your phone away and/or in silent mode during your focus time. Do not check email inbox.
- Organize your work before going into focus mode. Trying to find what is next will steal your attention to other stuff and interrupt your focus. So have your things to do handy before starting.
- How much time should you stay in focus? Of course it depends on you, but again these are my favorites. I enjoy the famous pomodoro technique and can recommend it to you as well. Another one I like is the one I call the “power-hour”. This is about a state of mind. I put myself into an isolated situation and say “In the next hour, I will get these job/s done” and go on non-stop no matter what.
When you set goals for yourself, have your end goal in your mind. That goes for your productivity goals as well. What will make you feel good, successful or satisfied in the long run? You want to have more time for yourself? That is good. You want to get more work done? That is good too. Just make sure why you are putting this effort so you won’t run to the wrong direction.