The 3 Hour Workday: An Operating System for Knowledge Workers - Deepstash
The 3 Hour Workday: An Operating System for Knowledge Workers

The 3 Hour Workday: An Operating System for Knowledge Workers

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The 3 Hour Workday: An Operating System for Knowledge Workers

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Rethinking the 8-hour workday

Knowledge workers aren't factory workers. There is no direct correlation between how much time they spend on the job and their output.

For knowledge workers, the 8-hour workday doesn’t make sense. It doesn't account for diminishing returns with our productivity and attention spans. To increase efficiency for modern knowledge workers, we have to consider what is not essential priorities.

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The structure of most working environments punishes people for efficiency and rewards them for looking busy. We need to shift our focus from the number of hours spent on something to the quality generated.

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To make a 3-hour workday feasible, design the right environment to make it possible.

  • Behavior is the result of environment. If you have many apps open, you’ll be more likely to be distracted.
  • Eliminate the need for willpower. Think of willpower like a bank balance. For every decision you make, you spend a unit. Design the right environment, so you avoid depleting all of your willpower.

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A distraction is anything that is competing for your attention and unrelated to the work you're doing at the moment.

  • Visual distraction: If you're working in one application and you see a notification pop up, that is a visual distraction. 
  • Auditory distraction: Anything you can hear, like people screaming, for example. Use noise cancellation headphones.
  • Kinesthetic distraction:  If your chair is uncomfortable, or the air too hot, it counts as a distraction. 

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We don't change the world by looking at emails. It only diverts our attention. We usually spend  3-5 hours a day on email.

  • Compose the emails you plan to send in another tool to your email client to help you avoid your inbox.
  • Set up a separate email address for subscriptions and new apps you want to try out. If you choose to sign up as a paid customer, move it to your primary email address.
  • Batch process. Choose set times to check your email; otherwise, keep your email closed.

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It might be tempting to think you need a social media footprint to build your brand. However, as Oprah Winfrey stated, "The brand comes from the work you do."

Quitting social media for 30 days can increase your productivity. Interleaving social media with your work shifts your attention and prevents deep work, flow states, and creative breakthroughs.

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How You Spend Your Time

First, break down how you spend your day from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep. Use an app to track your time.

If you know how you're spending your time, you will also see how you're wasting it.

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Attention is the currency of achievement. Learn to manage your attention. Two things will derail your 3-hour workday:
  • Starting your day on the internet
  • Turning on your devices first thing in the morning. 

It puts you into a frenzied rather than focused state. For the first hour of the day, replace everything digital with something analog. 

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Interval Training

If you've spent the last few years clicking and updating your social media, don't expect that you'll be able to focus with unbroken concentration for an hour. You will need to use interval training to increase your attention span.

Start with 10 minutes, then 20, and progressively work your way up to an hour. During the time you're not trying to focus, don't flit from one stimulus to another.

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  • Track your progress to increase your motivation. 
  • Flow. It takes 90 minutes of unbroken focus to reach flow. Flow can increase your productivity by 500%.
  • 90-Minute work blocks. Allocating two 90-minute work blocks forces you to choose your task for the day wisely.
  • High-value breaks. You're human so make sure you take simple breaks, like getting up for a glass of water and going for a quick walk. Refrain from using social media during this time.

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Workflow is a step-by-step break down of the process you use to complete any of your work. Any part of your workflow where data is collected can be automated. For every workflow, ask yourself 3 questions:

  • What are the steps?
  • What are the tools you can use to execute the steps?
  • What are the data points you need?

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Any workflow that has repetition can be changed into a system.

Automate with software. If you have a system for any part of your work, there's a good chance you can probably automate it. 

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Rest and Recovery

Proper sleep is one of the most significant performance enhancers we have.

Sleep deprivation decreases immunity and increases symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

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