“I wish I had more free time.”
“There’s just not enough hours in the day.”
“If only I could work less and spend more time with my family.”
We’ve all had thoughts like these at one time or another. More free time is something we all yearn for. But finding just an additional hour or 2 per week to do what we want can seem near impossible.
Except, it’s very possible to work less, increase productivity, and gain more free time.
Check out these simple techniques that can help you cut your work week in half, so you can spend more time doing the things you love.
9 Tips to Work Less and Do More
- Plan your day at night.
Every evening, create the next day’s to-do list. This can be just 3 to 5 goals that you want to accomplish the next day. In fact, you don’t want to put more than 5 goals as it can start to get overwhelming if you go over that number.
Having a hard time whittling down your list? Think of each task and what will happen if you don’t get it done. If the consequences aren’t that great, then it doesn’t go on the list.
The point is that you want to wake up the next morning with a clear idea of what you need to accomplish for the day.
- Stick to your day’s to-do list.
A to-do list is only good if you stick to it. Start with the most important or most challenging project of the day. Get it out of the way then move on to the smaller, less challenging and more pleasant tasks.
And once you’re done with the list, be done. Any other tasks you want to take care of can go on the next day’s list.
- Keep your desk organized.
This seems like a no-brainer, but creating a clutter free and organized work station is essential to being efficient, focused, and productive.
In fact, a study by the National Association of Professional Organizers showed that an organized desk will save workers approximately 60 minutes a day. That’s 5 hours per work week just for keeping clutter at bay. Seems like a fair trade if your goal is to cut your work week in half.
- Work the most at your best hours.
Just because corporate culture says that 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. are the hours for productivity doesn’t mean that’s when you are most productive.
Try to notice the times in your day when you are at your peak productivity levels. You may do your best work from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Or, you may kick into high gear around 3:00 p.m. when most others’ energy levels are dipping.
Don’t feel constrained to work the traditional schedule or feel like you have to “push through” times where you are feeling foggy headed or tired. Three hours of work when you are at your peak is better than 6 hours of off-peak performance.
- Stop multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking must be the biggest myth of corporate America. There is no such thing as multi-tasking. Your brain can truly only handle one thing at a time. If you try to juggle 5 tasks at once, you’re just doing 5 tasks poorly. That means you’ll likely spend time fixing mistakes or re-reading something.
Instead, focus intently on one task at a time and do not allow any distractions. Your work will get done faster and you’ll have higher quality results.
- Limit interruptions.
Every interruption you experience, however brief, takes you away from your task. Then, you have to spend time regaining your focus on the task at hand. You can’t get that time back. If you have a task that needs to get done, put your phone on silent, avoid the internet, and shut down your e-mail. Let people know that you are not to be disturbed. This will all help you hone your focus, avoid distractions, and bring you one step closer to cutting your work week in half.
- Designate time for e-mail.
Here’s another myth of the modern workplace: e-mail makes our lives easier. In fact, the average person checks their email 77 times per day. That makes e-mail one of the biggest time stealers in our days.
Here’s how you can slay the e-mail monster. Instead of responding to each message as it comes in, choose to answer your e-mails in batches at certain times throughout the day. For example, you can respond to e-mails at 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you clear out your e-mail inbox.
- Track, refine, repeat.
Track how much time you are spending on certain tasks. Notice which techniques are helping you reduce the time you spend on your most common tasks. When you find something that works, keep repeating and refining it. Also, if something isn’t working, then forget that technique. Not everything will work for everyone.
- Use the time you find.
Remember to actually use the extra free time you gain when you succeed at cutting your workweek in half. Really use that time to do something for yourself, whether that’s spending more time with family and friends, starting a side-hustle, learning a new skill, or simply doing nothing.
Find Time for You
Cutting your work week in half is an attainable goal. Try some of the techniques above. You’ll likely find that all your work gets done and “quitting’ time” starts to arrive a bit earlier every day.