Time to work smarter on blackboardNo matter what part of the world you inhabit, all people have the same 24 hour time period to work with. Success is only measured by what happens during those hours. No entrepreneur can be a designated time keeper, but there are a few strategies that will help maximize work habits and productivity in those hours and that is something.

10 strategies for efficiency and effectiveness:

1.  Parkinson’s Law

We’ve all experienced Parkinson’s Law at some point or another in life. “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do,” observed Cyril Northcote Parkinson. Some people even believe they work much more productively under stress, so they put it on themselves.

The law provides great leverage for efficiency: imposing shorter deadlines for a task, or scheduling an earlier meeting. Productive hustle is imperative. Rushed work will only ever be a recipe for reckless work because you’re not fully invested out of stress or panic.

2. Finding your flow

The zone is something that athletes, writers, musicians and artists all know very well. It’s the place in which creativity will take you and leave you for a while, to drown in your passion. That focus…you can’t get it anywhere else. This creativity creates a flow.

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi has research dedicated to the focus on specific flow states that optimize an individual’s performance by finding the balance between challenge and skill. It can very easily turn into a teeter totter effect, if the task is too difficult then we will become frustrated and five up. However if the task is too easy it will be considered mundane and be ignored.

Reach high, but don’t bend yourself until you break. Find the happy medium and let your flow state reside there.

3. Single-tasking

Multi-tasking is something that a lot of people debate about. There are some reasonable arguments stating that it is initially unproductive to multi-task because attention to detail will falter.

A good quote regarding this idea by Alexander Graham Bell states: “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand, the sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” It is so easy to spread one’s self too thin when trying to get a million things do. We so often overwhelm ourselves with personal lives, meetings, work, and too many projects. But if we learn to take a step back to focus, paying attention to detail will serve a greater good to our ethic.

4. The 2-Minute Rule

In Getting Things Done by David Allen, it is explained that the most productive people capitalize on the little windows of time opening up during the day. You would be surprised but taking advantage of an extra two minutes a day (if you have it) will increase productivity. Cleaning out the inbox, checking voicemail, approving a request, all in brief openings in the schedule, builds our efficiency muscles and gets the ball rolling for bigger tasks because hey, you just finished all those small ones with no problem.

The major cause of procrastination lies in over analyzing the next step. David Allen says it takes less time to do the action than the time spent thinking about it, so stop thinking about it and get it done!

5. Working to circadian rhythms 

There are nerve cells in our brains that control our circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are that which influence the sleep-wake cycle, hormone release, emotions and energy levels. Constant operation outside circadian rhythms will create fatigue. There are three areas that need attention for maximizing your efforts: the morning analytic spike, a creative spike after lunch, and a physical spike in the afternoon.

Efficiency lies in the perfect timing of specific work coinciding with biological peak times. According to Dr. Steve Kay, analytical work is best within a couple hours of waking, when the morning rise in body temperature increases blood flow to the brain.

Alertness slumps after lunch as the digestive process saps all the energy. Professor Mareike Wieth states however that this analytical disengagement is the best time for novel and creative thinking, so all is not lost even after lunch.

Dr Gerard Kennedy notes that exercise increases efficiency. The best time for this would be in the afternoon. More Olympic records are broken in the late afternoon than any other time of day. Muscle strength, lung capacity, eye-hand coordination and joint flexibility peaks between 4pm and 6pm.

6. Reverse engineering

Reverse Engineering is the disassembling and analyzing the components that make up the whole. Efficiency comes not only with seeing how parts relate, but being able to work on aspects out of order and analyzing them all. According to Tim Ferriss, rapid mastering of the tango through deconstructing the dance, and learning the female role along with the male is what accomplished his talent.

Who else is good at this? Linguists. Breaking a language into pieces and having a bird’s-eye view of the most common grammatical structures is extremely helpful, break apart the bigger picture to get the whole idea.

7. The Willpower trinity

Kelly McGonigal, a professor at Stanford, states that the key to hitting goals is an understanding of the three powers of willpower: I will power, I won’t power, and I want power.

  1. I “won’t power” is resisting temptation, such as saying “no” to distractions like that of social media when there is a larger task at hand .
  2. I “will power” is to choose an alternate behavior — sending a social, but networking email could be an example.
  3. I “want power” is remembering the “why” of your goal, be it expanding your career, business or profits just keep focused on it.

Like a muscle, willpower must be used or it will be lost. When we fail to reach goals, it’s due to solely relying on I won’t power, so you have to be sure to keep your focus shifted exactly where it belongs. However nothing will work more efficiently than using all three branches of the will power that will bring success.

8. 57 on, 17 off

Recent studies show that only one-in-five employees actually take advantage of lunch breaks, despite clear cognitive benefits for our fatigued brains.

Is there perfect work/rest ratio? DeskTime App played Big Brother, monitoring employees’ computer use. They found the most productive 10 percent worked hard for 52 minutes, and then proceeded to take a break for 17. This idea backed by scientists, points to the natural rhythms of our attention span. Our brain can only find focus for up to 90 minutes, and then it will need roughly 20 minutes of rest. Break up your time evenly when working to maximize efficiently, work smarter not harder!

9. Power poses

Most people don’t believe it but posture is everything. If it weren’t true, it’d be ridiculous to think simply changing your posture affects productivity as much as it does…but it really does. Professor Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk highlights on the fact that psychosomatic and neurological responses are a reaction to our posture. Taking a high-power pose (sitting up straight) causes an increase in testosterone (confidence, assertiveness, energy) and a decrease in cortisol (stress, anxiety, nervousness). A confident, testosterone-perked individual will be much more productive than a cortisol-crippled, stressed individual. It’s just a fact.

Our minds are pre-wired to respond to certain physiologies. It is crazier to know that something as miniscule as a forced smile can even release endorphins. Pulling yourself out of a figurative slump is as simple as physically doing it, so do it.

10. Validated progress

A good warning from Eric Ries: “If we’re building the wrong product really efficiently, it’s like we’re driving our car off a cliff and bragging about our awesome gas mileage.”

Nick Swinmurn’s startup of Zappos is a great example of this idea. He validated his idea without blowing cash by taking it upon himself to go to a shoe store, take pictures and then post them online. When sales came in, he then proceeded to buy the shoes. He didn’t need to pivot, just persevere in that situation and it worked!

Working through these are just a few tips alluded to help you succeed, and while you are be sure to check out our website https://tlcofficesystems.com, where we have the tools you need to make your work a reality.