In 1915, Albert Einstein presented his brilliant and revolutionary theory of relativity. In the three years leading up to that, he had completely devoted himself to its creation, without being distracted by anything else. We’re not suggesting that you spend three years working on a particular project (unless you really want to do that) but this approach of focusing completely on one piece of work is a vivid illustration of the new work trend called ‘Doing Less’.
As the name suggests, this popular trend encompasses techniques that can help you achieve great results by doing less than you need to. Today I’d like to share just a few of those techniques. Hopefully, they will help you achieve the best results for the task you’re facing, in the shortest amount of time.
Recommended Reading: Productivity Vs. Productivity Tools – Do The Latter Really Work?
1. 20% Effort Gives 80% Results
The Pareto principle, is also known as the 80/20 rule. It states that: to receive 80% of the results obtained in the work, the average person takes about 20 % of the total time spent. This conditional 80/20 statistic operates in all areas of life. For example, it is said that 20% of criminals commit 80% of crimes, and that 20% of drivers are guilty in 80% of the accidents they’re involved in.
If you know how to use the Pareto principle properly, it can be helpful not only in your professional life, but also in your everyday life. It’s like a little trick which forecasts an expected result. For example, if you are a sociable person then you would probably have a lot of friends. Think of how many of these people really help you in certain situations. In fact, it’s probably just 20% of those people. It is worthwhile to consider this percentage and give the right people the proper attention, instead of focusing on virtual friends.
How To Use This
If one follows the Pareto principle, it’s better to do all the useless things when your productivity is low. For example, some people come to work in the morning and canâ€™t immediately get to work right away. They need some time to prepare for the job, talk to colleagues, drink their coffee, and other things that help them settle in.
Only then can they start working productively. Itâ€™s important to be able to prioritize your tasks. You need to determine your most productive time for important cases and decisions.
2. Three Main Tasks
At this day and age, people still rely on to-do lists to keep things organized. Sure, we have evolved from using paper to utilizing computers and smartphones but whatever tools used would be powerless without action. In this case, all you need is one simple rule: every morning take a few minutes to think and write down the three most important tasks for the day.
And then focus your efforts on the implementation of this short list. Who needs these countless endless lists of tasks which you won’t be able finish in a week, let alone in a day? Focus on these three main tasks, and after theyâ€™re done, you can go ahead and do something else. This simple but powerful habit can really increase your productivity in a short period of time.
3. The ‘Do Less’ Philosophy
In the world of coaching today, the â€˜doing lessâ€™ philosophy has become quite popular. Different theorists offer different approaches. One of them is based on the mystical practices of Zen Buddhism, described by Mark Lesser in his book “Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less“.
His manifesto “Less” starts with dispelling the belief that reducing the load makes us lazy and is bad for productivity. By doing less, we actually allow ourselves to fully enjoy our achievements. The author recommends taking some time for meditation and “quieting the mind” in the middle of the working process.
You can perhaps even align your breathing in between reading and sending emails. It would help you to relieve stress and focus on a particular subject leading you to find the perfect balance. All of this can assist you in figuring out which activities are really important, and which are not worth your attention at all.
Therefore, you should prioritize tasks. Start doing the most important ones first, and after theyâ€™re done come to the low-priority ones. Just donâ€™t overload yourself with lots of tasks. Itâ€™s better to do less and high-quality tasks that you will enjoy rather than doing lots of things half-heartedly.
4. The Pomodoro Technique
The ‘Doing less’ philosophy also includes a lot of interesting techniques, such as the “tomato technique” (you can check out the official website here). This method of time management was developed by Francesco Cirillo. It got its name from the tomato shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo originally used.
The technique is based on the principle of working on a particular task for 25-minutes without a break. After which, you should definitely take a break.
But how does it actually work?
- From your task list, focus on the high priority tasks.
- Then start the timer for 25 minutes and start working, without anything distracting you, until you hear the signal from the timer. Each 25-minute period of time is called “pomodoro”.
- Rest for 5 minutes and start the timer again.
- For every four ‘pomodoros’, take longer breaks of 10-15 minutes.
- If the task takes more than five ‘pomodoros’, it may be divided into several parts.
This technique allows one to group tasks better, increases attention, and simplifies planning affairs. It would be especially helpful for programmers.
5. The Myth Of Multitasking
Multitasking does not make us more productive, itâ€™s one of the biggest myth these days. In fact, the division of our attention has a negative impact on productivity, concentration and energy.
“For tasks that are at all complicated, no matter how good you have become at multitasking, you’re still going to suffer hits against your performance. You will be worse compared to if you were actually concentrating from start to finish on the task,” says David Meyer, a scientist from the University of Michigan.
Read Also: 5 Reasons You Should Say No To Multitasking
Multitasking could be possible in just two cases. First is when youâ€™re doing something that is somehow automatic, for instance, walking and talking at the same time. Walking is an automatic activity that doesn’t need you to focus or think whereas talking requires the use of your brain.
The other situation when multitasking is possible is when it involves different kinds of brain proccessing, for example, reading and listening classical music. But if the music contains some lyrics in it, it would be impossible to do these two tasks at once, because both of them activate the language center of the brain.
Thus, if you want to be more productive then learn how to do one thing at a time and stay focused only on that one particular thing.
6. The Information Diet
These days, getting overloaded with information is as easy as getting a heat stroke in the middle of the Sahara. And even the symptoms are similar: sleep disturbance, distracted attention, and deferred reaction. Our brain is overloaded with all the noise that the information brings. In our modern world, people are constantly looking for news, when it truth, it surrounds us.
In this case Timothy Ferriss, the author of the book “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich” recommends taking a “low-information diet”. Do you really need to all the emails, blogs, newspapers, and magazines that you read every day? Do you really need to spend so much time looking through your Facebook news feed or watching TV?
Give it a try and cut out as much useless information as you can, for at least a week, and see how it can help your productivity.
7. Living On Schedule
Ask any successful person when he or she wakes up and itâ€™s likely that they are an early riser. Itâ€™s quite simple: there aren’t a lot of distractions in the morning, which helps a person focus on the main priorities. Waking up early in the morning is one of the factors of living on schedule.
During the day, there is time to rest and there is time to work. There are strict boundaries present and understanding this helps you to stay productive. Start with trying to leave the computer at the appointed time, as you need to rest to be productive.
Itâ€™s better to live on schedule than without it.
Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” which means that if a girl needs to write a letter for a week, it will take a week to write the letter. Especially, if it’s something they donâ€™t like or donâ€™t want to do. People tend to procrastinate and play for as long as they can. But strict deadlines for each task you get will put you on the right track to meeting the deadlines perfectly. Having a deadline that you’re afraid of missing is great motivation.