Work less and get more done during the workday
Did you know that tasks swell to the amount of time you have to complete them?
Is productivity a pain point in your small business?
Your productivity must be mastered to reach your exponential greatness.
There’s a scientific principle that explains the phenomenon of gas filling the space regardless of the container it’s in. It’s called Brownian motion, also known as Pedesis.
A ton of complex mathematical calculations, fractions, and formulas go along with the Brownian motion explanation. In short, it is the movement of particles in a space, in liquid or gas form, and these particles completely fills the area of any space they are in. It does not matter if it’s a small space or a large space. It will find its way to fill it.
But you may be wondering what this has to do with being an entrepreneur and productivity.
I’m so glad you asked.
Let’s imagine that the gas I just mentioned is your daily tasks, weekly tasks, or monthly tasks and the container is the deadline or the time you’ve allotted to finish this project. Think back to junior high, middle school, high school, college, or your current work projects, isn’t it interesting that how much ever time you have to complete a task is about how much time it takes?
You get to college and have your syllabus in front of you. You see a list of all the projects you have to complete and when their due. When I see it, I say tell myself:
“Oh! I’m going to get a head start on that one.”
“Oh I can finish that one by next week.”
But magically come the due date, I’m usually finishing that project the night before it’s due.
There were actually times in infrequent circumstances, I actually finished the project on a Sunday the week before it was due, but that was VERY rare. That is because of Brownian motion, I take as long as I have to finish it. Have you also noticed that when you have a shorter timeline to complete a task because of poor planning by someone else or something pops up spur of the moment, you get it done with 10 minutes to spare. Like when your boss calls you at 3 p.m. and says, “I need this by 5p.m.”
Miraculously it only takes you 2 hours to finish it versus 2 weeks! Usually when you’re given a shorter deadline, the product you produce or the project you complete is just as good, if not better, than the same project you would have finished had you had more time to do it. It’s like a miracle, crazy, right.
Well, actually not.
You increased your productivity output to match the timeline.
Let me let you in on a little secret to success.
If you set your workday around the arbitrary 8 or 9 hours that you’ve been given for the last, let’s say, five decades. Your day will be filled with eight hours of work. But if you reinvent your workday to 4 or 5 hours, I guarantee you, you can complete the same amount of work and do it more efficiently.
Unless you have no control over your work pace, like a factory worker working on some product line or a call center employee with back-to-back-to-back calls no matter what you do. You can put less time into your day and get more work done. Especially for those of you whose benefiting from the telework caused by COVID. If you have some flexibility in your day, you need to start using it. You don’t need more time in your day.
You need to reinvent your workday and be more productive.
This is where Atomic Habits are going to come in.
There are two things you need to ensure success when shrinking the amount of time in your work schedule and reinventing your workday.
Set realistic timelines.
We all know how long it takes us to do something we regularly do. So set a realistic timeline.
If it takes you an hour to check your email or better yet, you are giving yourself an hour to check your email, set a timer and then remove all distractions. If you start checking your email at 8 o’clock am, you need to activate a timer to go off at 9:00. If you’re at home, you also need to make sure that you’ve removed all distractions; you’ve turned off all of your phone notifications, minimized al other windows on your computer, turned off all beeps, bops, and dings, from surrounding electronic devices, etc. Then make sure that everyone knows not to disturb you. Make sure your kids aren’t knocking on the door and no one is coming in to interrupt you. At that moment, there is nothing more important than you checking your email and closing it back out until noon or late afternoon when you check it once more.
All of the phones are out of the room. You have no distractions. And on that timeline, you need to be looking at that clock like it’s a race. You need to tell yourself:
“I got to finish my email by 9:00 o’clock and nothing is going to stop me.”
You are the master of your fate and you’re the master of your time.
Make sure you are finishing your task in the time that you’ve allotted. So that you can move on to other things and work those in the same manner. Do this throughout your workday with other tasks.
Outside of that time, you don’t want or need to know an email popped in. Why? Because you’ll immediately and instinctively click on it and be snatched down that rabbit hole of un-productivity.
Only take phone calls during a specific time. Only write proposals during a particular time. Only invoice during a certain time. Give yourself that strict amount of time and stick with it. Do this for just one week and see how it opens up your day. It will make you more committed and more efficient.
I’m sure your family or your friends would much rather have you away for a set of four or five hours during the day rather than for a whole work day and then sits and spells into the evening of checking your laptop, tablet, or phone for even more work to do.
Create solid commitments.
You deserve a less than 5-hour workday and you can see that it happens.
Create commitments that bump up against that deadline time. So you are more apt to actually complete it by the deadline.
Set a late lunch date, get involved in an intramural sport, join a book club, put your kids in a sport where you have to be there at 1:00 o’clock or 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon.
It needs to be something that you get pure joy out of. Something you wouldn’t want to miss unless the world was falling apart. And if you do that, you’ll make sure you finish your tasks and get ready for that thing that’s following after.
In America and many other countries around the world, but I’m sure all over the world, we’ve created a crisis of urgency and importance hysteria. Everything is urgent and important, but we all know the facts. In Japan they have the word karoshi—which means to literally work to death. We haven’t coined a word in America, but there are thousands of people working themselves ti death every single day.
If everything is urgent and important, then nothing is urgent and important.
I lived overseas for three years on a beautiful island in the middle of the South Pacific. It was the most picturesque location I’ve ever lived in, but that location suffered from the “everything is on fire all of the time” hysteria. Everything was urgent, and everything was important.
So when I left that job, I felt sad but oh so glad at the same time. Finally, I didn’t have to deal with that schedule and that hysteria anymore.
Be present in the moment. Take a look at your schedule and see where you can shorten some time. Decide how long tasks really take and start reinventing your workday.