The key to success is not hard working but smart working. Sometimes, working less can actually produce better results. Consider a small business owner, who works non-stop. However, working hard won’t help you compete with his multi-million competitors. There’s a notable distinction between being busy and being productive. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive. Being productive is less about time management and more on managing your energy.

Sometimes, working less can actually produce better results.

Consider a small business owner, who works non-stop. However, working hard won’t help him compete with his multi-million competitors. Time is a limited commodity. An entrepreneur can work 24 hours a day and 7 days a week (the most amount of time anyone can work, really). His or her competitor can always spend more money, build a bigger team and spend a lot more time on the same project. Then why have small startups accomplished things that larger corporations couldn’t? Facebook bought Instagram, a 13-employee company for a billion dollars. Snapchat, a young startup with 30 employees is turning down offers from tech giants Facebook and Google. Part of their successes were based on luck — the rest is based on efficiency and performance not hard work!

The key to success is not hard working but smart working.

There’s a notable distinction between being busy and being productive. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive. Being productive is less about time management and more on managing your energy. It is the business of life. We need to learn how to spend the least amount of energy to get the most benefit. Everyone needs to challenge themselves and help sort out their priorities to become more productive. I learned to reduce my work week from 60 to 80 hours down to 40 hours, when I had my business, and get a lot more work done in the process. In other words, less is more.

 

Here are 7 I things I stopped doing to become more productive:

1. Stop working overtime and increase your productivity

Have you ever wondered where the 40-hour work week came from? In 1926, Henry Ford, American industrialist and founder of Ford Motor Company, conducted experiments with interesting results: when you decrease your daily working hours from 10 to 8, and shorten the work week from 6 days to 5, your productivity increases.

The more you work, the less effective and productive you are going to become over both short and long term. “Scheduled Overtime Effect on Construction Projects”, a report issued by The Business Roundtable in 1980 states.

2. Don’t say “yes” too often

According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of the effort produce 80% of the results; however, 20% of the results consumes 80% of the effort. Instead of working harder, we should focus primarily on those efforts that produce 80% of the results and forgo the rest. We will have more time to focus on the most important tasks. We should stop saying “yes” to tasks that bring low or almost no result.

3. Stop doing everything yourself and start letting people help you

It’s important for us to realize we can seek help when needed. We cannot do everything ourselves. It is better for you to let someone who can do a better job taking over some of your tasks. It will give you more time to focus on your most important tasks. Instead of wasting your time trying to figure something out yourself, let the experts help you.

4. Stop being a perfectionist

“It was found that perfectionism trips up entrepreneurs on the way to productivity. The more perfectionist the entrepreneur, the less productive they are,” a study on perfectionism and productivity tells us. Many research found a robust correlation between increased perfectionism and decreased productivity.

Here are some problems associated with being a perfectionist:

  •  They spend more time than required on a task.
  •  They procrastinate and wait for the perfect moment. In business, if it is the perfect moment, you are too late.
  •  They miss the big picture while being too focused on small things.

Marketers often wait for the perfect moment. In doing so, they end up missing it.

The perfect moment is NOW.

6. Stop guessing and start backing up your decisions with data

If you can optimize websites for search engines, you can optimize your lives to grow and reach your maximum potential.

There are so many research studies out there that can provide answers in a range of areas. For instance, did you know that most people are more easily distracted from noon to 4 pm? This random statistic comes from recent research led by Robert Matchock, an associate professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University.

7. Stop working, and have do-nothing time

Most people don’t realize that we’re essentially locking ourselves in a box when we are too focused on something. It’s important to walk away from our work once in a while and have some alone time. Alone time is good for the brain and spirit, according to The power of lonely , an article in The Boston Globe.

 

We don’t become more productive overnight. Like everything in life, it requires efforts. Change doesn’t happen if you just sit there and wait for it. It’s important for all of us to learn more about our body and find ways to optimize our energy for a more successful and happy life.

 

And don’t forget: There is NO “Ctrl-Alt-Del” for your time, you simply cannot reset or rewind it. So use it wisely!

Hal Tezcan, the “Adaptive Generalist”