This is a well-researched fact about life. You become less productive as you work more! The key is to work smarter and take frequent breaks.
Let us examine the research to see if this is true. Desk Time, a new app from a social networking company, was tested. What do you think? The top 10% most productive workers were not even working 8-hour days. Their winning formula? They took regular 17-minute breaks every 52 minutes of work.
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A study conducted at the University of Toronto yielded very similar results. According to the study's leader, John Trougakos:
“All attempts to control behavior, perform, and focus draw on that reservoir of psychological energy. When that energy source runs out, we become less effective at everything we do.”
Our brains were not designed to focus for long periods of time. Work hard for short periods of time, then take a break.
However, the 52-minute workday and 17-minute break may not be suitable for you. The key is, of course, to take breaks when you feel they are necessary. Following a clock can disrupt concentration and disrupt a train of thought. If I'm on a roll and producing really good work, I want to keep going, so taking a break may be counterproductive.
It might not work if you have impatient customers waiting in line to be served. This principle may be more effective for mindless and repetitive tasks that do not require a high level of concentration. However, it is certainly worthwhile to experiment with this to see how you can actually reduce the number of working hours and work smarter. Here are seven practical suggestions to help you do just that.
1. Do not let presenteeism rule your life
What about presenteeism? We've all heard of absenteeism, but what about presenteeism? You have completed all of the tasks for the day, but you feel compelled to remain at your desk. You end up working more hours than you need to. If you have the option, simply go home. There's a lot of stuff waiting for you there. You can unwind by spending time with your family or significant other. When you return to work the next day, you are much more likely to produce more creative and faster results. Your body and mind require recharging.
2. Try working shorter shifts with frequent breaks
It might be time to try something new. Google's Larry Page wants to do away with the 40-hour work week. Last April, the Swedish government experimented with a six-hour workday in the city of Gothenburg. The test group will work six-hour days, whereas the control group will work the standard eight-hour days. Both groups will be compensated equally. Will it lower absenteeism and boost productivity? We're still waiting for the results because they're running it for a year.
3. Learn to say “no.”
When you're feeling overwhelmed, stop giving away your time. The number of requests for assistance, collaboration, invitations, and meetings seems to never end, and if you find that your real work is falling behind, it is time to put a stop to it. The best advice I've received on this one is to take your time before responding. You are more likely to say no, which saves you a lot of time and energy when you say yes and then have to backtrack! Remember that the word ‘no' is a complete sentence!
4. Breaks are more beneficial than you think
If you believe that walking around the block or getting a cup of coffee completely disconnects your mind, you are mistaken. It is during these moments of relaxation that the mind can generate some very creative ideas. It is not a squandering of time.
5. Establish realistic deadlines for yourself
There have been numerous studies that show that people work better under time constraints. In fact, if a person views the pressure to complete tasks by a deadline as a challenge, it can produce fruitful results. If, on the other hand, they perceive it as a threat, having a tight deadline to meet may be counterproductive. You must decide how you will respond to deadlines and set them accordingly.
6. Don't take too many breaks
You must strike the proper balance, as taking too many breaks can be an ally in procrastination. I can't do that right now because I need to take a break! If this is followed to its logical conclusion, very little work will be completed.
7. Don't forget about your body
Taking a break could mean taking a nap, going for a walk, or checking your Facebook status. Google was one of the first major corporations to implement nap rooms to assist employees in recharging their minds and bodies. If you are not fortunate enough to work for one of these companies, you may have to settle for taking a walk, stretching, or doing something else to rest your wrists, arms, and fingers. You can avoid the painful RSI (repetitive strain injury) by using software like Workrave, which will alert you with an alarm when it's time to get up and move around.
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