Unplug & Recharge//

3 Ways to Work Less and Still Impress the Boss

Focus on being productive, not busy.


Americans are busy. A recent Gallup poll found that full-time adults clock an average of 47 hours per week — and nearly four in ten of us log in over fifty hours per week at our jobs. Americans also receive half of the vacation days of their European peers (14 rather than 28) and a week less than their Asia-Pacific counterparts.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Some of America’s most innovative leaders have employed strategies to boost employee performance in less time and with bigger results. Here are three ways to work less, produce more, and get ahead of the rat race.

1: Sleep!

Use that couch in your office! A well-rested employee doesn’t make as many mistakes or have as many accidents, is more positive and collaborative, reports less sick days, and is better able to manage time.

Arianna Huffington, media mogul and author of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your life, One Night at a Time, unapologetically uses her couch during the day — and she insists her employees do the same. She predicts that nap rooms in offices are going to be as common as conference rooms in the next two years. We hope bosses around the world share her dedication to sleep and follow suit.

2: Be mindful.

We waste a lot of time addressing the stressful circumstances at work — you know, the busybody co-worker who takes credit for our projects or the boss who is impossible to please. We spend too much worrying about the water cooler drama instead of focusing on our goals, and that increases the amount of time we spend doing our jobs.

“Mindfulness essentially means moment-to-moment awareness,” Forbes contributor Drew Hansen explains. “When you are mindful, you become keenly aware of yourself and your surroundings, but you simply observe these things as they are. You are aware of your own thoughts and feelings, but you do not react to them in the way that you would if you were on autopilot.” Hanson says that by not labeling or judging the events and circumstances taking place around you, you are freed from your normal tendency to react to them — and that means more focus on the things that matter and less time needed to excel in the workplace.

Mindfulness enhances emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and the capacity to manage distressing emotions. It also reduces stress and blood pressure, improves memory, and lessens the risks of depression and anxiety. So spend five minutes of your day realigning your focus, putting things in perspective, and setting priorities.

3: Focus on being productive, not busy.

Do you ever wonder how your coworker manages to look busy but not ever get anything done? For Tim Ferriss, business expert and author of The 4-Hour Workweek, the answer may be found in understanding effectiveness versus efficiency. “Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task in the most economical manner possible,” Ferriss writes. We need to focus on effectiveness, not efficiently doing something that may not be important.

In our insecure economy, most of us are just grateful to have full-time jobs. But we can adjust our approach to work in a way that will give us more freedom and also help us to be more productive. By making our health a priority, keeping things in perspective, and understanding the contrast of efficiency versus effectiveness, we can shorten our path to success.

Originally published at medium.com

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