This Could Be The Best Year You’ve Ever Had

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Like every year, this Christmas my wife and I had mass quantities of presents to wrap, a task we divide and conquer on.  I always find this to be a really frustrating activity for two reasons.  One, you can always tell which presents under the Christmas tree I wrapped.  They look like the work of a four year old.  Two, she not only has the ability to wrap presents so they look perfect, but she also wraps about five times as many as me in the same amount of time. 
 
I’ve always envied (and hated) the people who work this way in their jobs.  You know them.  Their the ones who have an almost supernatural ability to not only get things done well, but they also get far more things done than you and I in far less time. (Sneer).
 
But, what if you could work that way?  What if you could work less, enjoy more and actually get more accomplished?  That could make 2018 probably the best year you’ve ever had!  Well, that thought may not be as far out as you might think. 

Let’s start with how many hours a week you work.  A recent Stanford efficiency study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours.  But more than that, the study determined that productivity drops off so much after 55 hours per week that there’s no point in working any more.  Wait, what??  That’s right!  People who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.

The key to these people is that they’ve mastered some life hacks that really account for a big difference in how they work versus how you and I work.  The good news though is that you can get there too and it will make a really big difference in the quality of your life! 

Below are the top techniques that these people use and how they could make this year your best year ever!

*Unplug On The Weekends – Often considered a sign of non-commitment to the business or even weakness, you’ll be glad to learn that disengaging on the weekends proves to be a vital strategy.  This includes your smartphone, email, text messages, etc. because if you don’t disconnect from those, you’re basically still in the office. 

Staying connected seven days a week puts you square in the sights of a number of stress factors that will prevent from achieving the regular recharging and refocus that makes you great at what you do.

*Step Back And Do Some Thinking Every Week – This is what drives improvement in your work and yourself.  Use the casual pace and time of the weekend to ponder the bigger picture of your industry, company, job and other life influences at play and determine adjustments you’ll make.

*Go To Far Less Meetings – At the end of the year they’ll measure you on what you got done not how many meetings you attended.  Let’s face it; most meetings are a complete waste of time.  They interrupt your work, they’re poorly organized and they go far longer than needed.  Meetings kill your productivity.  So start being choosy about the meetings you attend.  Avoid what I call the “Meeting Olympics”.

*Shorten Your To-Do Lists – 45% of to-do list items don’t get completed.  With typical to-do lists, we succumb to fighting what’s urgent, not working what’s absolutely critical.  I mean really, when is the last time you finished #52 on your to-do list?  Max out your list out at three items per day, no more.
Having trouble identifying the top three?  Breaking your list into the following four quadrants should help:

-Important and Urgent
-Important and Not Urgent
-Unimportant and Urgent
-Unimportant and Not Urgent

Now throw away the Unimportant and Urgent as well as the Unimportant and Not Urgent.  It’ll be easier now to identify your top three critical items for the day.

*Work In Bursts – Divide yourself between complete rest and complete focus. Don’t constantly switch in between.   It’s totally unproductive.  Studies have shown that your brain has to re-orient each time you stop a task and start again. Estimates say we waste up to 28% of our day because of this start-stop dilemma.

Here is a typically start-stop productivity killing schedule:  20 minutes of work -> 10 minute call -> 41 minutes of work -> interrupted by coworker tapping your shoulder -> 7 minutes of work -> email that takes too long -> interrupted by someone else walking in -> 39 minutes of work -> meeting ->.  The problem is this is how many of us spend (translation: kill) our days.

*Know Your Peak Time – All of us have a time of day where we are at our very best.  You know when that is.  For me it’s 10am to Noon.  In that time frame, I can move mountains, slay dragons and you definitely want to stay out of my way or risk a footprint on your forehead!  By contrast at 1:30pm after lunch, forget it I’m a useless glob of silly putty.  Know when your own peak time is and tackle your biggest project of the day then.

*Exercise – I know, I know, you hear this all the time.  But the number of studies that show direct work productivity benefits from exercise is astounding.  So here’s the main point – our mental firepower is directly linked to our physical regimen.  From a work standpoint, regular exercise has direct impact on our concentration, memory, learning, mental stamina, creativity and ability to handle stress.

Most of us think of exercise as a luxury if we have the time.  It’s time we viewed it as a vital part of our job and career.  Identify an activity you actually like, one you look forward to doing and you’re much more likely to stick with it.

So here’s the bottom line.  You can be one of those people who have that ability to get more things done in far less time.  You’ll excel in your job and this will free up nights and weekends for the things you really enjoy and a really fulfilling life.  Put some of the techniques above into play and 2018 will be the best year you’ve ever had!

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