During my career, I’ve had many “bosses” — real corporate employers, co-founders, clients. What I can certainly see as a common trait between all of them — they love everything about productivity. I mean it’s a common sense right — everyone loves doing more in less time.
Here is something that is not a common sense — one of the easiest and most effective ways I’ve used to increase my productivity is actually doing Less.
One of the most effective ways to increase your productivity is actually doing less!
Seems counterintuitive? You want to do more not less, right? The world is full of surprises. Here are four main reasons why doing less means completing more and how to implement the less doing in your day.
4 Reasons why doing less means completing more
Here comes the “Aha” moment — It’s all about leveraging our human nature by doing a single thing at a time. Going with what we are good at, instead of going against it. Without further ado, see the four reasons why doing less means completing more:
1. Flow is hard to create and easy to lose when multitasking
Flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
In other words, Flow is when you are so deeply involved in a single task, that you are at your best.
The biggest enemy of the Flow? Doing more than a single activity a.k.a. multitasking. In your efforts to complete more than one thing at a time, you are not only failing to do so but the results you achieve in the end are below par.
Multitasking — subpar results and more time. Not cool.
2. Your memory cannot perform correctly while switching
After we’ve addressed multitasking, let me introduce you to its closest relative. Interruption. Similarly to multitasking, interruption causes us to switch between tasks. Every switch between two tasks has two main negative effects:
a) There is a switching cost. Your ability to complete the task you undertook in an optimal way lowers significantly when interrupted.
b) It takes you about 23 minutes to regain the level of productivity (Flow) once you’ve been interrupted.
3. The breaks between tasks help you prepare better
One great byproduct of doing a single task at a time is that you are able to take more frequent breaks. Breaks, when voluntary, are great! Here is why:
a) Your brain gets a bit rest and gets energy to tackle the new problem
b) Breaks make sure you don’t lose your overall aim. They give you the needed time to look at the bigger picture.
c) Breaks help you consciously or unconsciously to prepare and create an action plan for tackling the next task
4. You are doing the most important thing
Last but not least, when we are forced to do but a single thing we are making sure we are doing the most important thing. This doesn’t need much proof. Just ask yourself — if you were allowed to do just one thing today, wouldn’t it be the most important one?
4 Ways to implement it in your day
OK, you now know why doing less means achieving more. Let’s address the elephant in the room. The How.
1. Use a task management system
If you are not using a task management system — use one. Thousands of engineers are working on such system and making the software make your life easier. Here are few things to look for when selecting a task management system:
Being able to get an overview of your immediate tasks — Kanban boards are a great visual tool. All successful task management systems have one out of the box. Don’t settle for less.
Work-In-Progress Limits — Want to do a single thing? Make sure your task management system helps you fight distractions and allow for you to define how many tasks you will be taking at a time.
2. Plan Just A Few Tasks Ahead
One of the main reasons we multitask is that we are overwhelmed by the volume of the upcoming work. We start feeling a need to do more than one thing at a time. Here is a simple tip for you. Plan using milestones and break only the next milestone. This way you won’t have a mile-long backlog to stress about.
3. Use software to block you from distractions
In this time of unlimited information, we have become habitual self-distractors. I mean honestly — is Facebook bookmarked in your browser?
Use software to help you in your quest against distractions. There are multiple plugins that will help you stay more focused on your work. Here is the one I use: “Stay Focused”
P.S. I have no affiliation with this plugin.
4. Use Blocks Dedicated To Certain Task Only
Keep yourself and the time in control by scheduling a time block for your activities. This way your brain knows what it is supposed to be working on.
Don’t forget to schedule time blocks for rest too.
Ready to do less and impress?
I hope, by now, you are sold on doing less and being more productive. Treat multitasking, distractions, and interruptions as a disease and flow as the holy grail.
Most importantly — try it. Don’t just read about it — try it and see what results it brings you and your team.
Don’t just read about it — Try it for yourself.