In this era of economic uncertainty and stretched-thin corporate resources, many workers feel the need to practically chain themselves to their desks in order to maximize their productivity and thereby prove their worth. No one really likes the idea, but these days, how can you get everything done in less than sixty hours a week?
In her new book, What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do: Reduce Tasks, Increase Results, and Save 90 Minutes a Day, Laura Stack says the key is to work less to achieve greater success. She turns time management on its head and debunks the idea that you have to run yourself ragged to be more productive. Laura slays these common time management dragons:
1. If you plan properly, you can do it all. Well, no, you can’t—because at some point, the sheer number of things you need to do outweighs the available time you have to do it. “Do-it-all” thinking got you into this mess in the first place. So examine your priorities carefully, focus on the important, and let the trivial go. Something can always slide—just make sure it’s not a key project.
2. Multitasking makes you more productive. Quite the opposite, actually. Multitasking may work for computers, but for people, single-tasking—focusing tightly on one task at a time, to the exclusion of all others—actually works better. That way, you don’t waste time switching between tasks and then refocusing on the new one.
3. Breaks? I don’t need no stinkin’ breaks! Workaholics often skimp on breaks, under the impression that this makes them more productive. Big mistake! While you may not want to quit working on something when you’re on a roll, stopping occasionally between tasks and taking a breather will recharge your energy. A nice lunch spent chatting with a co-worker may be just what you need to get back on the high-performance track.
4. More is better. Some people believe the more they check off their to-do lists, the more productive they are. Be careful—don’t confuse busyness with true productivity. If you accomplish two tasks worth $50,000 each in the course of an eight-hour day, then you’ve far out-produced your neighbor who polished off 35 items worth $500 each during a twelve-hour session.
5. I need to stay connected at all times. While your smartphone, the Internet, and email can certainly make you more productive, tread carefully here. Responding instantly to calls, email alerts, and Tweets shatters your focus and diverts you from real work. So slip the electronic leash. When you need to concentrate on a critical task, shut down your email, skip Facebook, and turn off your cell phone. Take care of your communications when you come up for air.
Don’t fall for these time management myths! Better yet, read Laura’s book, so you can learn all the secrets of achieving fantastic productivity without succumbing to overwork! Finally, a “work less, more success” guide to time management!
Laura Stack is America’s premier expert in personal productivity. Since 1992, she has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces. She is the bestselling author of five books, including What to Do When There’s Too Much To Do. To have Laura speak at your next event or subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.TheProductivityPro.com. © 2012 Laura Stack.