I thought this was interesting and wanted to share:

Work in the Zone

It’s not just the number of hours we sit at a desk that determines the value we generate. It’s the energy we bring to the hours that we work.

Take two people. One works for 4 hours a day and the other for 10 hours a day. They both produce the same amount of work! Who is working harder? Who is working smarter?

When you work, focus on maintaining your energy all day. Learn how to regularly re-charge your mental batteries to maintain productive performance. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting a coffee, or taking a run. Swapping from a focused task to a creative task can be just as effective. Leave the paperwork and make some phone calls. Swap from sitting at a desk to standing/moving around. Mixing things up allows you to maintain tempo and keep your energy levels high, because you are using different parts of the body and the brain. When one part of the mind or body is tired, let it recover whilst you use another, fresher part.

This is not multi-tasking. Multi tasking is a constant disturbance of focus. This is about maintaining energy and focus: bursts of focused activity at peak energy.

Don’t slog over long, sustained tasks for extended periods of time as your body and mind will set themselves to marathon survival mode and slow the pace down. It is best to work with full energy, in the zone – in bursts of activity. This method uses the least energy to deliver best results.

If you do have a lengthy project – refresh yourself by a change of task in that body of work – read about the issue, phone people to discuss it, write about it, think, calculate costs. All the same issue but you are merely shifting your perspective. but importantly still keeping the same focus.

Take time off from the task in hand! When you come back to it, you are revitalised and can face it with renewed vigour and focus.

Never be afraid of not doing anything at all as it gives you time to think. Allow thinking time to reflect, and come up with faster or better ways of doing things. If your brain is always focussed on a task, it is not wondering creatively about other things. Einstein’s best thinking came from daydreaming!

Take it a stage further and sleep! ‘Power naps’ are what it says on the packet: a powerful source of competitive advantage. Evidence is overwhelming. As well as being physically restorative, naps improve perceptual skills, motor skills, reaction time and alertness. How often do you feel tired and distracted? Niggly as a toddler in their ‘terrible twos’? Send yourself to bed! A short sleep – even for just 5 minutes – will make all the difference.

Call all of this “energy management”. Five minutes’ complete rest can rejuvenate you for several more hours; making you sharper, quicker, and more alert than before. Results are achieved from the energy you invest – not the time.

By working intensely for a short time, you will accomplish more than working for days on end in a distracted and increasingly tired way. Flogging yourself usually means that you’re flagging. So refresh yourself frequently.

To summarize the above:

Work in bursts.

Do 60 or 90 minutes of focused work, then rest for five minutes. Some people say that the average attention span for one thing is only 20 minutes. Switch tasks. Experiment with what works for you, and choose what’s best.

Commit time to finishing projects.

If a task will only take a few hours – get it done in one consistent period. Don’t spread it over a number of days. Having to ‘get back into’ the task each day wastes time, when you could have maintained the flow all in one sitting (with some breaks and a nap, of course!)

Rest, health, and fun matter.

Don’t be a slave to your work. Master the ability to re-charge yourself and don’t feel guilty when you do! Enjoy it.

Think about this whole approach and expand it beyond your typical working day. Ask yourself:

Do you work better in the morning and in the evening? Take off every afternoon!
Why are you working five days in a row? Can you work alternate days – and rest every other day.
If you usually take a fortnight’s holiday (if that!)? Could you take three weeks or a month?
Is your optimum output better if you take ten weeks off, instead of four, and work with more energy during the times that you DO work?
The important thing is to learn to master working on full charge and recharge those batteries sufficiently by NOT working at all times.

Experiment with what makes you most productive. Appreciate that working fewer hours/days/weeks can actually help you to achieve more output if you maintain a high tempo when you ARE at work.

By working in concentrated bursts youwill produce much higher quality work, and be more productive and creative. The added bonus is that you will still feel fresh and energetic, and fit for the rest of your life outside work.

How can you break up your work day, week, month or even year to maintain a high tempo?

What rhythms of work pattern suit you, and are most productive?

Instead of counting the number of hours that you work – how can you make the hours count?

Determine how much you can get done in the least possible time

Further Reading:

Be Excellent at Anything by Tony Schwartz (Amazon Link UK, US)

If the above topic, or indeed any of my blogs are of interest to you, then contact me and let’s talk! Drop me an email at getintouch@marcwinn.com.

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