The great thing in life is efficiency. If you amount to anything in the world, your time is valuable, your energy precious. They are your success capital, and you cannot afford to heedlessly throw them away or trifle with them.
–Dr. Orison Marden
Have you ever broke down the hours in a day and thought if you really needed to, how much you could get done in 16 hours?
Ways to be more productive and streamline work are high on any modern day business agenda.
The general 8-hour sleep, 8-hour work, 8-hour play routine varies from person to person, but one thing remains undisputed; a day accompanied by structure and deep work can achieve more than a frantically busy, fragmented one can in a week.
So what are the factors most conducive to maximising productivity?
Timings are everything. A start and finish time bookends each day to allow a window of complete focus, the same way it can allow a switch off when the day is finished. This relates more to freelance and flexible workplaces; but whatever the hours you work, make sure to pin down a start and finish time and stick to it militantly.
When a routine is so ingrained that it’s equivalent to going autopilot, it takes one less thought process from the day’s decisions; in turn minimising time on admin and maximising time spent on work.
Being mindful of exactly what a day can fit in if you break it down incrementally, is quite eye-opening. There are many ways people can divide a day up, but whichever you adopt, it will dictate how you see your time and the opportunities available within it.
Writer and TED Speaker Tim Urban, breaks it down (minus 7-8 hours sleep) into 16-17 hours or 1,000 minutes, broken down into 100 10-minute blocks, which is what we get each day when we wake up.
Throughout that day we spend 10 minutes of our lives on each block, which when looked at as a whole, reveals interesting clues on how we use those 100 blocks we get each day, and how we can make our day more productive and streamlined.
“How many of them are put towards making your future better, and how many of them are just there to be enjoyed? How many of them are spent with other people, and how many are for time by yourself? How many are used to create something, and how many are used to consume something? How many of the blocks are focused on your body, how many on your mind, and how many on neither one in particular? Which are your favorite blocks of the day, and which are your least favorite?”
To increase efficiency and productivity(particularly after implementing an allotted window for deep work), all email notifications should be turned off, with emails only being checked twice a day at the likes of 11am and 4pm. The sporadic and spontaneous alert of email notifications not only interrupts your train of thought; but switches it completely off the task and onto the subject of the email, suspending any chance for deep work to enhance productivity.
Once notifications are off, it’s a good idea to set an auto-responder, saying something to the effect of, “Thanks for reaching out. I currently only check my emails at 11am and 4pm each day, to increase efficiency and productivity.
If you require assistance that cannot wait please get in touch on [YOUR PHONE NUMBER].” Being in control of incoming information this way, can structure and streamline your day in a way that enables deep work, not debilitates it.
Efficiency when maximised, slots work into a finite window of confined, deep, productive focus, where a lot can get done in a shorter space of time. Optimum productivity needs practice, maintenance and work but when mastered over time, it can transform the way you approach your life and opportunities within it.
We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.