Chatting up a CBO this morning reminded me of how many people are stuck in the old ways of thinking and doing in the business world.
Here’s a guy high up on the food chain in a corporation who still feels that he doesn’t have a choice except to work the traditional 9 to 5 in the office. He does an hour and a half commute – one way – five days a week, sometimes more. And he’s miserable.
If C-level executives and business owners don’t feel they have choices, then who does?
I can’t imagine living that life again. I left the C-world and went freelance because constrictions like that stifled not only my creativity but also my productivity.
Working 10 to 12 hours a day not counting the commute – sometimes seven days a week – because I “needed” to show up if I wanted to make it up the next rung on the ladder. Rarely was the work anything I couldn’t have completed in five hours. The rest was spent “looking busy” not productive so that I could get noticed.
Why did I do it? Why does anyone do it?
Because “it’s what you do” to climb the ladder in our current work environment.
The funny thing is, I wasn’t any better as a business owner – back then. Working 80 hour plus weeks was the norm for me and plenty of others.
Today, I’m not that way because I’ve learned it doesn’t boost my productivity to work that way. I work fewer hours and make more money. Here are seven of the things I’ve learned that will help you not only be MORE productive while spending LESS time in the office.
1. Work on Change
With a few changes, you can make a GINORMOUS difference in your work environment and be MORE productive while spending A LOT less time in the office.
Just because it’s been done or is being done that way, doesn’t mean it can’t change.
All you have to do is make whatever you want in your work life a priority and DO IT. This applies to CEOs, executives, business owners, freelancers, contract workers, even lower on the totem pole employees. You have to be willing to make a few changes on how you budget your time, set a few boundaries, possibly prove a little education to an employer, and make it all happen.
When I asked the CBO I was talking to today, “why don’t you start working from home a couple of days a week?”
He answered “I can’t. It’s complicated.”
But it’s NOT!
C-level executives and business owners have more POWER and are in a better position to make CHANGES to how the corporate world operates than anyone else. So stop living in the “this is just how things are” mindset and work to make the changes you want. You’ll find that not only are you MORE productive but you’ll spend less time in the office.
Sound like a pipe dream?
I promise it’s not – IF – you’re willing to make a few changes.
2. Work With a Purpose
What if you found out working 12 to 14 hour days was actually hampering your productivity? And that you could do better by cutting back?
A 2016 UK study shows that people only work an average of 2 hours 23 minutes actually working during an eight hour work day.
Your amazing brain doesn’t want to spend eight hours continually working, much less 12 to 14. Instead, it finds ways to goof off by giving you busy work. Did you really need to check your Facebook page right now? Or chat with “Bob” over in planning about how things are going?
So forget working eight, ten or even fourteen hours a day and plan on working with a purpose instead. Instead, start thinking of work as a sprint in a marathon. Set a timer for half an hour to an hour, turn off the distractions and work until the timer goes off. When the timer goes off, get up and set the timer again. Then go take a break.
Spend ten minutes taking a walk. Or spend 30 socializing around the office water cooler. Check your phone, make that cup of tea or whatever it is that you do throughout the day. Do it, enjoy it and when the timer goes off, go back to work for another sprint.
Prioritize four to five hours a day like this and then get out of the office. When you make a plan to deliberating focus your time, you’ll find out that you’re not only more productive but more creative as well. AND that you’re getting more done than you ever have before while finding out that you’ve now got time to take those kickboxing classes you’ve been putting off.
3. Work Outside the Office
Do you really need to go into the office every day?
Probably not. Connecting to the office from anywhere in the world is so freaking easy today, working outside the office is as easy as working in.
It’s time for the old world of business thinking that if you’re not seen working in the office then you must be chilling by a pool.
Too many studies, including a recent 2-year Stanford study, show employees who work outside the office are much more productive than those who have to come into the office. Seems to have A LOT to do with distractions whether it’s from work or home life.
So, why not work outside the office?
Back in the day before being so connected this might be a bit more complicated – but today? There aren’t many reasons why you can’t save the commute time and work from home, a coffee shop or a beach in Bali. Not only will you be more productive at work, but you’ll get more done at home (or wherever) as well. I call that a win-win for everyone.
4. Work on Delegating
Are you a bit of a control freak or think you need to do it ALL to be AMAZING?
It’s a complete myth!
Good leaders delegate not only because it frees up their time but because it empowers other people.
Not to mention, trying to be a one man or woman show completely cuts down on your productivity, is stressful, and wastes both your time and talent.
I’m so guilty of this one. I’ll spend four hours figuring out how to code a change on my website that would have taken a professional ten minutes to do. Talk about a time suck! My time is so much more valuable than that.
So, STOP IT already!
Hire good people – whether it’s employees or freelancers – trust them to get the job done right and focus on what you do best, caring for your business. You’ll see not only your productivity goes up, but you’ll spend A LOT less time wasting your time doing things you – quite frankly – suck at.
5. Work on Your Vacation Skills
Feel like you can’t take time away and not worry about your job security? Or if you’re on vacation, you’re still working?
Don’t worry you’re not alone. A study by Glassdoor finds 51% of employees are using their paid time off and 61% work while on vacation. And I bet those numbers are higher for business owners! But you aren’t doing yourself, your company or your employer any favors.
Rest and Relaxation = Reset.
Staying connected and available to your work 24/7 isn’t healthy or productive. It means you face burn off, reduced productivity and creativity, and you’re freaking tired all the time. Who wants to work like that?
So shut it off, take your time OFF and work on improving your vacationing skills by doing things other than work. And if your company calls? Don’t answer!
6. Work on Saying “NO”
Setting boundaries and saying “NO” in the workplace or your own business isn’t always the easiest thing to do because it’s human nature to be people pleasers as a way of fitting into the pack.
So the next time your boss or co-workers call at all hours of the days, you figure you can squeeze in a few moments more, or “Joe” asks you to take on that extra project, say “NO.”
Don’t know what you should say “NO” too?
Start by understanding your value and what you value. Next define your goals, expectations, and objectives. Then if whatever it is, doesn’t fit, then say “NO” to doing it, and you’ll soon find yourself much more productive because you have more time to finish YOUR projects. AND spending more time out of the office because you’re not doing all this “stuff” you agreed to do just because you felt like you should.
7. Work on Your Mindset
Think your mindset doesn’t have anything to do with your productivity or getting you out of the office? You would be very wrong.
Thomas Oppong says it well with “Mindset, coupled with consistent action is the key to achieving and sustaining success.”
Wanna change your life? Change your mindset.
Yep, the ONLY way you’re going to make any of the changes I’ve suggested and succeed is by changing your mindset about how YOU think you should be doing things.
None of these suggestions are radical, but if you still think that you CAN’T do them or they are impossible, THEY ARE. You won’t succeed with your goal of increasing your productivity and spending less time in the office. Then again, you WON’T succeed at anything in life until you change your mind from “I can’t” to “I can.
Are you ready to increase your productivity using the help of others?
If so, send me a message ([email protected]). I’m always up for chatting about ways to increase productivity and getting out of the office!
Originally published at www.linkedin.com