Working Harder isn’t the Answer

We do it because it's the most visible form of productivity.

It is a way to prove to others that you are doing stuff and checking things off the list.

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Time Management

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Hard work is necessary in order to be productive, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

At some point, you start to be negatively productive.

It means scheduling your time according to your natural rhythms:

  • Do your most important work at the beginning of the day if you are a morning person.
  • Don't feel bad about sleeping in because you stayed up late at night to work if you are a night owl.

Acquire new skills that will help you get more things done in less time.

  • Consume information and learn about other people from your field, about their mistakes and methods.
  • Apply what you learn.
  • Find an Accountability Buddy
  • Create a morning ritual for the first hour of your morning
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique to break your work into chunks
  • Make a “Not-To-Do List” with the things that waste your time
  • Use freelancing platform to outsource tasks 
  • Batching similar tasks into one chunk.
  • Practice systems like David Allen’s Getting Things Done for task management.

One reason we work too hard is that we are using that hard work to make up for a lack of courage.

Example: Instead of firing the team member who is dragging down the project, we work harder to make up for them. Firing them takes courage.

  • Courage is in choosing to work less because we are confident in our own productivity time, even if that means having a 5-hour workday.
  • It is having a difficult conversation with someone at work.

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RELATED IDEAS

Focus on Systems Instead of Goals

Most goals are out of our control. We have limited control to reach them. In a system, your focus is on all the parts that you do control. And system is a fancy word for “repeatable process”.

For example: running a marathon is a goal, running 4 days a week for 30 minutes is a repeatable process.

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IDEAS

Your interpretation of failure is preventing you from working.

Typical behaviours:

  • You accept distractions because you already lost, but then think things will eventually fix themselves.
  • You feel people are mad at you or don't understand your limited position.
  • You slack in other areas because you think one loss justifies failing in other areas.

Solution: When you failed, you did not understand how much you actually learned. Take a day off to stop thinking.

When companies have more work than they can handle, they tend to ask, "Who will do this work?" But the better questions are:

  • How should this get done?
  • Is this the best way to do this?
  • Is there a more efficient way to do this?
  • Should I be doing this?

Identify what can be automated, delegated or be replaced in favor of something else. Even if it only saves you a few minutes, it will add up over time. 

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