It’s no secret that many of us work long hours and have little down time. And if for no other reason than to stop a 12 hour day turning into yet another all-nighter, most of us are always looking to be more efficient and productive. So we thought we’d turn to some of the most successful people in the world for a little advice.
Check out these strategies and tips from some seriously accomplished people to help you stay (even more) on top of things:
Barack Obama: Create Your Own Work ‘Uniform’
Making decisions can be exhausting, and as consultants we have plenty of decisions to make every day. Our ability to make decisions effectively is diminished over the course of the day, and eventually, we become too exhausted to function at out best. One way to work around decision fatigue is to reduce the number of smaller decisions you have to make by turning them into habits and routines, to free up mental resources for more complex decisions.
Barack Obama, once said;
“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing, because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Other successful people with similar strategies inlude Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Both are known for their work uniforms (black turtle necks and hoodies respectively) and have stated that this is simply the result of implementing a daily routine intended to cut down on decision fatigue.
Arianna Huffington: Take A Nap… Seriously, It’s Time Well Spent
Technology means that many of us are working longer and longer hours, which can lead to exhaustion and people feeling burnt out. According to Huffington, organizations spend anywhere between $200 to $300 billion annually on stress-related costs. So (as a big believer in naps) in order to make sure her staff gets the rest they need, there are two nap rooms at the Huffington Post which employees sign up for in advance for one-hour naps.
So Arianna’s advice? If you can, use your lunch break to get a quick nap in at work, whether that means sleeping in the break room or if you are lucky enough in a designated nap room! Even a quick 10-20 minutes of nap time can make a big difference to how effective you are for the rest of the day.
Robert Iger (Disney CEO): Get Up Early, Even At The Weekend
This Disney CEO is one of many executives who claims to rise at 4:30 every morning – even at the weekend. Even though many people think that successful people just stay in bed until the afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday, they are up and out early. Research has shown that our brains are sharpest two and a half to four hours after waking, so get up early at the weekend and you’ve got a head start on everyone else!
Alexis Ohanian (Reddit Co-Founder): Email Less, Call More
Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian believes that scheduling phone calls through the day to connect with people rather than communicating by email is key to his productivity. Email is sometimes ineffective and time consuming, and a quick call for 10 minutes could replace the 10 emails back and forth required to get to the same point.
However, calling someone out of the blue and potentially interrupting their day or missing them as they aren’t available is not the answer. Rather Alexis believes having multiple prescheduled calls throughout the day is the key to efficiency.
Timothy Ferris (Author of The 4-Hour Workweek): Don’t Multi-Task
Timothy Ferris wrote the book The 4 Hour Workweek; so we trust that he knows a thing or two about being productive. It may be tempting to maximize your time by eating lunch while on the phone and returning text messages, but successful people know that this will reduce efficiency and effectiveness.
Instead, Timothy’s advice is to always be present for each single activity, and he recommends a maximum of two goals or tasks per day to ensure productivity and accomplishments are aligned.
Erin McKean (Founder of Wordni): Use Small / Easy Tasks As A Break
A study by Dr. Shelley Carson of Harvard University showed that focusing on a problem limits creativity because you become more selective when responding to brain signals. However, switching to a smaller more simple task that requires less focus reverses the bias and therefore increases your ability to think creatively.
Erin McKean says that when she wants a little break, she looks through her daily goals and tackles one of the small and easy to complete ones. She says that doing those small tasks may still be ‘work’ but it doesn’t require much effort and is much more productive than looking at funny cat pictures!
Evan Williams (Twitter Founder): Workout When You’re Least Productive
Apparently, you won’t find Evan Williams at his desk in the middle of the day, instead you’ll find him at the gym instead.
Productivity levels change at different times of the day for different people, so if you can acknowledge and understand your energy changes and then plan your schedule so that you’re doing your most important work during your most productive times, you are ahead of the game!
Evan says that his focus is usually great first thing in the morning, so going to the gym first is a trade off of very productive time – so he switched things up and heads to the gym around lunchtime.
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