Do More by Doing Less: How to Be More Effective at Your Job in Less Time
You’re working all wrong.
There, we said it. The American workplace is functioning within the confines of a system and habits that were established during the industrial revolution, and while they’re not actually destructive, “We’ve always done it this way” is considered one of the most dangerous phrases in the English language.
We’re obviously very good at our jobs, though. U.S. worker productivity has grown consistently since, well, forever. But while we’re consistently improving, studies also show that U.S. workers are suffering from doing too much, and doing it wrong. So how do you stay productive and healthy?
Work 90 minutes at a time.
Much like how our sleep cycles operate within the circadian rhythm, scientists posit that our waking hours are spent similarly, in what is being called the ultradian rhythm. This rhythm operates in 90-minute cycles, with 20-minute periods between them, which are best used as resting periods in order to allow our bodies and minds to fully refresh themselves. Even if you don’t use the 20-minute “off-cycle” to rest, scientists recommend that you do stop what you’re doing after 90 minutes.
The other benefit of working in 90-minute cycles is that you are able to successfully multitask. When you unplug from a task after 90 minutes, you can work on something else and still gain the same benefits because, in switching tasks, you’re giving your brain a break from the original. You’ll still need to take at least a small break to celebrate the success of that first 90 minutes, but you’ll be able to quickly and easily move on to the next task and get to work with the same speed and efficiency as before.
Want to get even better at your job? Take more days off.
An article from Forbes.com reported that in repeated studies, employees who used more vacation days and unplugged from work entirely when they were away from the office were more efficient and more productive. These findings coincide with several workplace discoveries overseas; in Germany, for example, several companies are now implementing four-day workweeks and seeing zero losses in productivity (some are actually seeing increases in output), and in Sweden, several companies are switching to a six-hour workday and seeing the same results: vastly improved employee happiness, increased productivity, and improved employee health.
Regardless of workplace, don’t be afraid to change the way you work in order to be healthier and more productive. Your bosses will appreciate your improvements, and your employees will appreciate their improved physical, emotional, and mental health.