It’s been eight years since Tim Ferriss penned the classic The 4-Hour Work Week that prompted millions of over-worked and under-satisfied workers all over the world to wonder if there was a better way to live their lives—a way to work less and accomplish more.
People are still searching for the secret of getting their work done in less time so they have more time to contribute to their “other lives.” They want to raise their families, exercise, read books on beaches, and not be stressed all the time.
Here are three tried and true methods that still work extraordinarily well when it comes to working less and getting more done:
1. Play with Parkinson’s Law and Time It.
The original Parkinson’s Law suggest that work expands to fill the time allotted to do it. If you think you have a week to complete a project, for example, it will take a week, but if you know that project must be done in two days, it will somehow get done in two days.
Apply that science to your workday. Allot reasonable times to each task and set your timer. Be conscious of that clock as you work, knowing that when the time runs out, whether it is 9 minutes or 90 minutes, you HAVE to be done. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish.
If the project is really huge, break it down into no more than 10 smaller segments, time them, and get going.
2. Expand the Marginal Rule of Quality.
When you are in the zone of a work project and you are moving forward rapidly and with great creativity and activity, you are getting maximum benefit from the time invested. But at a certain point, your pace slows, your focus falters and all of a sudden, the time you are investing is not yielding the same kind of output. That means it is time to stop.
This opens up the age-old question of whether you should pass in every project in a perfect state or allow yourself to be content with “it’s good enough.” There is some validity to doing the project up to a point when the little changes you are making are taking a lot more time than the actual project itself. At that point, while you may be satisfying your own sense of completeness and drive for perfectionism, you are beginning to waste your time. Your project is good enough. Call it an end and move on to something else.
3. Make the 80/20 Rule a Way of Life.
Under the 80/20 rule, it is assumed that a small amount of your work contributes to the most amount of your daily output. Yet many of us spend the bulk of our days working on the remaining 20 percent of tasks.
While it is unrealistic to think that we can eliminate all the “little tasks” from our schedule, we can make a major effort to set up our days so the time periods when we are most productive (and we all know our own body rhythms) are spent on the vital 80 percent of tasks, and to eliminate as many smaller tasks as possible that sap our strength and time.
What are your tips to work less and accomplish more? Share them in the comments below.
About the Author
Roz Bahrami is a blogger for SkyPrep, an online training software. Roz regularly contributes blogs related to corporate training, L&D, and marketing.