September 19, 2019

How to achieve more by doing less?

Morten Hansen, a management professor at University of California, Berkeley, and author of the book, Great at Work, says there’s something wrong with the working style of today and needs to be fixed immediately.

According to Morten, the problem is the perception of thinking ‘more’ as ‘better’. However, he says more hours doesn’t lead to better performance. It only leads to a worse work-life balance.

He asked 5,000 managers and employees what drives their performance at work and found that the top performers don’t do too many things, but rather a few smart things.

Christine Carter, author of ‘The Sweet Spot: How to find your Groove at Home and Work’ says if you’re struggling with conflicting obligations and lack of time, energy or patience, you need to start doing less to achieve more.

Here’s three that can help you achieve more by doing less:

1. You need regular small breaks

Whenever your boss gives you more tasks to do, it is human tendency to start working right away, and not leaving the desk until you’ve finished everything.

The trick of getting a task done more effectively is to focus on the task for a short time with regular interval breaks, and not for too long at one stretch. You need to understand that your brain does not always function at peak level at all times.

Mixing different types of activities or different nature of work and switching from one type to the other can help your brain function at maximum capacity.

When you’re focused on one task, you’re only functioning one part of your brain, which means staying focused on one type of work for too long can shut down the other parts of the brain, especially the creative part.

The ability to disconnect from the task you’ve been focusing on for too long and moving on to some other type of work triggers the neurons in your brain to recharge, that helps in utilizing more parts of your brain, making your thought process more effective.

2. You need to decide when it is ‘good enough’

We overthink about an idea or a task while trying to create something new. Whether it’s a research, writing an article, designing graphics, planning an event or brainstorming, sometimes we end up spending too much time looking for ‘creativity’ or ‘something new’.

This not only wastes your brain energy but also your useful time, because you may already have done a great job and sufficiently got what you need. Christine Carter proposed a technique called “satisficing” which means working on a task until it is “good enough.”

You need to clearly define the success criteria for every task, and immediately stop working on the task as soon as it satisfies the criteria, and move to the next task. It is tempting to do more, but you need to know how to manage the urge of wanting more.

3. Always focus on the positive

Positive emotions help us to perform our best. Various research on psychology and neuroscience has proved that our brain functions better when we feel positive about something.

Positivity increases our brain’s capacity to process more engagement, creativity, motivation, energy, resilience and productivity. Positive people also make better leaders.

When you feel happy, you’ll naturally be more empathetic towards others. One way to live a positive life is to maintain a gratitude diary and write down the things you’re most grateful for every day.

Your most productive day may not necessarily be about completing many tasks at one go, as it might only lead to more stress and unorganised tension. You need to know how much your body and mind can take and where to draw the line.

You need to strike an adequate balance between utilising and recharging, both your brain and body. This will not only make you more effective in your work but also help you achieve more.