“Do more with less.” “Work smarter, not harder.” “Let’s hustle more and get this done!”
You’ve probably heard this before. The problem with more productivity is that it takes its model from the Industrialists. The Industrialists gave us the 40-hour workweek and treated people like machines.
We no longer believe people are assembly-line machines that will achieve the same result every time. People have nuance, creativity, and adaptability. To thrive in this environment, we must first start with our inner world, then slow down to optimize the brain, and lastly focus on how to be more productive.
Your internal world is the first place to start when we talk about productivity. If this is not aligned correctly, then the work we do when we are being productive will not be as effective.
Research shows that leaders possess three top internal inclinations. First is the ability to maintain curiosity and to use this in decision-making. Next is an outsider perspective and seeing things through the lens of people outside of the organization or group. Third is the ability to “move on it.” For this inclination we are focusing on not being paralyzed by perfection, but instead getting things done.
The first internal inclination focuses on curiosity. When we were kids, everything in the world was new. Effective leaders maintain such curiosity even in the midst of failure. They say, “that’s interesting” when things don’t go as expected.
The next internal inclination is an outsider perspective. Outsiders have more influence than insiders. Study after study continues to show how someone from outside of a group has more influence statistically than those inside of the group.
The last internal inclination is the ability to act. On one side we have accuracy and on the other side we have speed. In most of life and business, speed matters more than accuracy every time.
Each summer I host an event in Michigan called Slow Down School. At this event, entrepreneurs gather at Lake Michigan and genuinely slow down for two days. Then they run hard into their business plan. I have seen people sketch out entire books, launch businesses, buy the website and create an opt-in. The emerging research continues to show that slowing down first is the key to getting more done.
One key element in doing this is to look ahead to the next weekend and “add one” and “remove one.” In “add one,” we add something we look forward to. In “remove one,” we choose something to eliminate or cancel.
How to get more done
There are numerous ways to get more done once your brain is optimized. A University of Illinois study found benefits from taking a one minute break every 20 minutes. Changing your environment for specific tasks can help you get into a flow faster. For example, change the lighting, your seat position or the music.
As a society, we have many challenges ahead of us. We need people not to be burned out and stressed out, working at their brightest, most innovative, most productive level. Do you need to have variety or one particular task? As well, you want to know at what time of the day you’re most productive. Understanding how you work best will help you get more done in a shorter time and give you the tools to make Thursday your new Friday.
Joe Sanok is a therapist and author of “Thursday is the New Friday: How to Work Fewer Hours, Make More Money and Spend Time Doing What You Want” (HarperCollins Leadership, 2021). He also hosts the “The Practice of Practice” podcast, where he interviews authors, scholars, experts, business leaders and innovators. Follow him on Twitter @JoeSanok.