We’d all like to have more time. Whether it’s more time while we’re at work to complete all our tasks and projects or more free time outside of work to enjoy our hobbies. Having more time is a common and shared desire.
Yet finding more time is a challenge shared across multiple industries from executives down to front-line staff. Businesses increasingly face greater demands from customers, increased pressure to always hit targets and all of this takes place in a hyper-connected world which doesn’t come with an off switch or a mute button.
These demands bring with them a tendency for many people to work longer hours in attempt to get more done. This greatly increases the risk of burnout as well as reducing the amount of time people have to enjoy themselves outside of work. And it doesn’t work. Statistics show that working smarter, not harder, is directly linked to productivity and performance.
In the latest figures released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the total annual number of hours worked per worker is lowest in Germany, with workers in Sweden and the UK working, on average, 300 hours more each year than their German counterparts. Not only do workers in Germany work less hours, they have a thriving economy and are renowned for their efficiency; they successfully do more in less time than any other country in Europe.
We work with business throughout Europe helping them manage their workforces more effectively through better scheduling, time management, communication, forecasting and budgeting. This helps them be more productive and efficient while increasing revenue and reducing costs.
There are also simple ways for us to achieve more in less time on an individual basis. Here are our top tips:
Create your own schedule
Creating a great schedule isn’t just something that applies to organisations having to manage hundreds of staff. Having a personal schedule can help reduce the amount of dead time we have. Whether it’s blocking out time to complete your weekly tasks or factoring in an hour a day to deal with your inbox, trying a personal schedule can significantly boost how much work you get through in a day.
A study from the University of California Irvine found it takes someone close to 25 minutes to get back on track with the task they were working on if they have to deal with an unrelated distraction. Middle managers in organisations are often the people who find it hardest as they have to field questions and requests from senior decision makers as well as the employees they are responsible for. This is why it sometimes pays to say ‘no’ or to communicate with others that you need uninterrupted time to complete the task you’re working on.
Have shorter meetings
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Peter Bergman describes the ‘magic of 30-minute meetings’ and argues hour slots for meetings were born out of convenience rather than usefulness. He states shorter meetings keep people focussed, energised and on track. The Wall Street Journal found that CEOs spend an average of 27 hours per week in meetings, on calls or at business meals every week. Even reducing this number by 25% by having shorter meeting would drastically improve the amount of time a CEO has.
Know your strengths
Just because we can do something, it doesn’t mean we should do it. The skilled craftsman will accomplish a job twice as fast and to a much higher standard than an enthusiastic amatuer. Focus on what you are good at and delegate other jobs to people who have the skillset to do them well.
Enjoy your downtime
Sport, time with friends or family, hobbies or even watching the latest series on Netflix (just not all of it in one sitting!) are ways we can enjoy time spent not thinking about work. Rather than making us worse at our jobs, this gives our minds and bodies the chance to recover meaning we’re then able to achieve more the next time we’re working.
Technology will help you do more in less time if you use it wisely. The Quinyx mobile app is loved by employees as it allows them to receive their schedule straight to their phone as well as letting them change shifts, apply for more shits and send in leave requests. Apps such as Wunderlist, Evernote, Trello and Slack are all leading the way in boosting productivity and reducing the time it takes for things to be done.
By having strong discipline, great communication and the ability to prioritise, we can all get more done in less time. The impact of this is we are more positive at work, we enjoy it more and we feel a greater sense of achievement on a daily basis.