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zen habits: Top 10 Productivity Hacks - #6

Friday, February 23, 2007

Top 10 Productivity Hacks - #6

Quick intro: This is one in a series of Top Productivity Hacks - little tips and tricks that are designed to make you more productive. At the end of the series I'll post them all together in an overview.

Productivity Hack #6: Get to work early, and leave early. Work fewer hours.

This is one of my favorite tips. My best days come when I get into work early, and begin my work day in the quiet morning hours, before the phones start ringing and the din of the office begins it crescendo to chaos. It is so peaceful, and I can work without interruption or losing focus. I often find that I get my MITs done before anyone comes in, and then the rest of the day is dealing with whatever comes up (or even better: getting ahead for the next day).

Added bonus: you skip rush-hour traffic.

But just as productive is the second part of the tip: leave early and work fewer hours. I don't mean to shift your 8-hour day to 7 a.m.-4 p.m. ... that by itself would work well, but I'm recommending you take it even further: work only six or seven hours.

I know: you may not be able to take this option, depending on your job. But you might be surprised. Many bosses are not worried so much about the number of hours you work, but the amount that you produce. So think out a plan, write up a proposal, and talk to your boss. The worst that can happen is he/she will say no. If you work for yourself, you have no excuse.

Why does this hack work? If you commit to working only six hours today, and leaving by 3 p.m., you have a much tighter deadline. You have no time to waste surfing the net or playing solitaire or talking to your coworkers or sitting in long meetings. You must crank out the work, and get everything done, so you can get out of the office on time. On the days when I leave early, and know that I have to get out of the office early, I am focused. I'm a productivity machine.

Motivation tip for this hack: set a daily appointment, so that you'll be sure to get out of the office on time. This could be a workout appointment with a workout buddy, or the need to pick up your kids, or something you need to do with your significant other. Whatever it is, be sure that you will not miss it, and get out of the office in time to be there.

It's paradoxical, but if you work fewer hours, and know that your time is limited, you will be more focused. Then you have more hours to yourself! Everyone wins.

Top 10 Productivity Hacks

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2 comments:

Shannon said...

I love this tip. I have found that I am really only truly productive at work for about 4-6 hours anyway. The rest of the time I spend doing "research" -- mostly reading blogs, which does contribute to my ideas for work. But I think if I turn this into a schedule, as you suggest, it will work even better for me. Unfortunately, I have to fill out a time card, so I have to get 8 hours on there somehow, but it seems so arbitrary to decide that 40 hours/week is the optimum time to work. If you can be productive in less time and get results, then why not?

Leo said...

Hi Shannon ... thanks for the great input. Is there any way you could speak to your supervisor, or the person above your supervisor, about your hours? I've found that if I make a good sales pitch, and show them how my proposal will help the company, sometimes things that didn't seem flexible before are actually changeable.

Suggest working from home for 2-3 hours a day. With good enough reasons, maybe it'll work!