It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that doing less is the key to greater productivity, especially considering many of us associate being productive with working hard all day. However, by just simply doing less you can significantly increase your productivity levels.
Don't believe us?
What Productivity is Not
It's common to see people mis-defining "productivity". Many of us fall into one of two categories.
The first bunch confuse productivity with attention span, they believe that being productive is about how long you can work for.
The second bunch believe that being productive is all about your concentration levels and how focused you are.
What Productivity Is
The real definition of productivity is "the effectiveness of your productive effort". In other words, how efficient are your actions.
Being truly productive means to get the results you desire with less time and less effort.
The whole point of being productive is not just to get more done, but it's also to gain more free time to do the things you like!
An Example of How Productivity Works
Imagine there's two people working at their desk job. Let's call them Person A and Person B.
Person A stays at his desk for 14 hours each and every day concentrating on his work assignment. He does his best to work hard but because of these long hours, he quickly begins to feel drained and sluggish. Not very long after, he's not getting much done despite his best efforts. In the end he's able to write 1000 words on his work assignment.
Person B sits at their desk for 4 hours each and every day, he splits this time up into 4 separate 1 hour sessions. In this short time, he concentrates to the best of his ability but refuses to stay over his hour sessions. He allows himself to mentally reset and go do the things he enjoys. Because he allows himself to reset, he feels more alert and is able to also complete 1000 words on his work assignment.
Now, despite Person A working for longer and trying his best, it's Person B who is the more productive out of the two. He's able to get the same amount done whilst spending very little time and less effort. This allows him time to do the things he loves whilst still getting the desired results.
Who would you rather be?
If you're still not convinced, keep reading for our three reasons why employing a "less is more" strategy will help you in terms of productivity and mental health.
3 Reasons Why "Less is More" Works
Reason #1: Mental Energy
There's only so much mental energy you can utilise in day without feeling overworked and mentally fatigued.
Various studies have shown that once we reach the limit of mental effort expended in a day, our productivity levels and our ability to make decisions rapidly decreases.
By employing a "Less is More" strategy, you can choose where you direct that mental energy. You can channel that mental energy into the tasks that are important to you.
The key to this is to eliminate or reduce any activities which you feel use up a lot of your mental energy without producing a good return on investment.
Furthermore, it may also help to try and complete your most important tasks early in the day when you have the most mental energy available. This way you'll produce higher quality work and in a more efficient manner.
For example, if you've got some tasks today that are going to require some mental effort but aren't going to lead any real results or progress in your life, eliminate them.
You can then use that mental effort to concentrate better on the tasks that will lead to real progress in your life.
Reason #2: Multitasking Slows us Down
If there's a lot of tasks that need to be completed, we often almost subconsciously start to try and work on a few simultaneously or at least start to think about how we're going to approach the next task.
These distractions significantly impact our ability to focus on the task at hand. Neuroscientists have found that those who multitask on a regular basis proved to perform worse at recalling and retaining information.
Furthermore, other studies have shown that those who have a heavier workload suffer from a decline in their ability to focus compared to those who are focused upon just a few tasks for the day.
Therefore, switching your concentration to various different tasks throughout the day is only going to hinder your productivity. Instead, focus upon just a few tasks and give them your undivided attention!
Reason #3: Happiness
Truth be told, very few of us enjoy working for long hours. Not only is it incredibly exhausting but it also robs us of the time we could be spending doing the things we love.
By employing a "less is more" approach, we're able to create more time in our schedules to partake in the activities that we enjoy and spend more time with our loved ones.
Simultaneously, this can actually help you to become more productive. Often when we approach a task whilst feeling tired and sluggish, we rarely get much done and it starts to feel like a chore. However, think back to a time when you approached a task with a smile on your face; it becomes much easier to focus and enjoy your work when you're enjoying your life!
Hopefully, this guide will inspire you to employ a "less is more" approach to your life; not only is it going to result in greater productivity but it's likely to make your life much more enjoyable by carving out time to do the things you love. Good luck!