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How to work less and achieve more

Avoid distractions and make better use of your time at the office.
How to work less and achieve more
“Great performance doesn’t necessarily come from the hours you work, it comes from performance,” - Morten T. Hansen. Photo credit: iStock.

We have been told our whole lives that in order to be a good employee you need to be the first one in the office and the last one to leave every day. But do long hours on the job necessarily translate into being productive?

Let’s be honest with ourselves. If you work an office job, you are most likely spending a large chunk of your day surfing the web.

In a recent report conducted by digital marketing authority eMarketer, working adults in the U.S. spend roughly 12 hours a day consuming some sort of media. That means that half of your day has been hijacked by distractions on whatever screen is close by.

I recently sat down with Morten T. Hansen, a management professor at U.C. Berkeley and author of the new book “Great Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better and Achieve More” to see how people can avoid distractions at work and make better use of their days.

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Have passion and purpose

First things first, let’s talk about why you are losing focus at your job. You probably have had some sense in your life of where you ultimately want to be professionally. Hansen believes that these kinds of dreams while motivating, can be detrimental if you are working a job that does not fall in line with your passion.

“The problem with passion is that it has a hedonistic quality to it,”  explains Hansen, “it’s about what excites me regardless of all else. What’s missing is purpose, and purpose is the opposite of passion because it is defined as ‘do what contributes’ rather than ‘do what excites you’.”

According to Hansen, the key is to performing better at work is to align both your passion with a sense of purpose. That way you will find yourself daydreaming about the possibilities of what you could be doing, and focusing in on what you could be doing to contribute to the greater good of your company. Speaking of focus…

 

Use your time wisely - Do less and obsess

 

Do you think your boss will really take notice if you work from nine-to-seven rather than nine-to-five? I hate to break it to you, but they won't. All they will care about is that you do your job every day that you are in the office. And if you can’t do that, then what’s the point of staying late?

According to Hansen, by focussing in on only a few tasks per day will make for more proficient use of your time and will keep you from overextending yourself. This will also keep you on a strict schedule and get you out of the office on time.  

“Great performance doesn’t necessarily come from the hours you work, it comes from performance,” explains, “One of the key problems that we have in the workforce today is that we have the wrong metric. One of the prevailing metrics today is busyness. Saying 'If I am busy and seen as being busy, then I am successful.' And that is crazy!”

Moreover, Hansen explains that his research has shown that the overall quality of your performance has been proven to go down with the more hours that you tack on to your week.

So if you want to kill it at your job while leaving the office in time for happy hour, make better use of your time.