Increasing productivity while decreasing work hours

Question: Do we have to work more than 8 hours per day?

Well, working longer doesn’t improve productivity. We mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking that that if you’re passionate, you have to work long hours to prove it. Being passionate isn’t the same thing as staying late in the office. So why do we do it and what’s the alternative?

The History: Where did it come from?

The move towards an 8 hour day began with the British Industrial revolution. To maximize output on the production line, factories needed fixed schedules for their workers.

Working conditions were terrible:

10-16 hours - the range of the average working day, for 6 days a week.

10 years old - average age for children to begin working

By 1817, the reformist Robert Owen was campaigning for an 8-hour working day under the slogan:

“Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

Why did they do that?

Because they know that it doesn’t work. They knew that longer work-hours causes:

  • Exhaustion
  • Poor engagement
  • Stress and frustration
  • Lower productivity

It’s hard to sustain your love of a job that is slowly draining all of your energy.

There is a fake work-life balance.

Be a productivity ninja through these 10 steps and decrease your work hours so you can achieve the most-coveted genuine work-life balance.

  1. Manage your energy

Of course, everyone has heard of time management.  I hope we’re all masters of it and doing it well. But modern work is not just about managing time, but also energy.

Energy is one of our most essential resources, and it doesn’t look after itself.


Be like a cobra. A cobra has a lot of power, a lot of venom, a lot of energy.

But do we see them strike? Rarely. Cobras only use all that power and energy when it is:

Appropriate, Meaningful, Advantageous, beneficial, necessary and important.

There is no point using all your energy and power when it isn’t necessary. Be a cobra and strike when it is appropriate.

So take charge of your physical, mental and emotional energy.

It is your job to make sure that energy is there when it’s needed.

  1. Stop multi-tasking

Multi-tasking saps productivity.


Productivity drops 40% when you try to do more than one thing at once.

Employees switch tasks every 3 minutes.


Focus on one task at a time and finish one thing after another.

Have a list of thing you should do in a day.

  1. Avoid distractions

There are the online disruptors and the offline disruptors.

Interruption breaks your momentum.

96 minutes of disruptions per day

15 minutes to return to tasks after a disruption


The biggest distractions: Chatting with people, social networks

Cut-off the distractions and stay off the social networks

Manage your mobile; don’t let it manage you.

  1. Stop wasting time

Unproductive activities can waste hours.

My personal mantra: If you’re gonna have to do it sooner or later, just do it sooner.

  1. Avoid Procrastination

It’s not about ideas; it’s about making ideas happen. Procrastination is lingering too much on your next step.

  1. Be the master of your minutes

If you want to be more productive, be the master of your minutes

90-120 minutes - the time your brain can focus before it needs a break.


“By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It is the perfect example of having your cake and eating it, too.” – Timothy Ferris

Plan your most demanding tasks during your most productive hours.

15 minute break -take one mid-morning and the other in the mid-afternoon.

3:00 pm is the least productive time of the day – so it’s the best time to take a break and boost energy levels.

  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses

To do this, we have to be incredibly objective about ourselves. And it’s not just how others see us, but how we see ourselves. We all carry a mental image of ourselves – what we look like, sound like, how we work – but how realistic is that?

A lot of people think that identifying their strengths and weaknesses means that they get to lose the bad stuff and only work with the good stuff. But that is not true. We all have weaknesses. The secret trick is learning to work with them rather than trying to be perfect, which is unrealistic and unproductive.

If you’re in doubt, write down what you think are your strengths and weaknesses. Show it to a close friend who you do not work with. Ask for their objective evaluation. Now show it to someone you can trust who you do work with. Now there may be quite some differences. This is because the special skills you bring to friendships are quite different from the ones you bring to a work relationship.

Know your strengths and weaknesses and use it as a productivity hack. Think about better uses for your weaknesses.


  1. Improve efficiency

It’s very easy to feel productive without actually accomplishing much because busyness is confused for productivity. Focus on being productive instead of busy.

  1. Enjoy and be happy
Happy workers 12% more productive

Unhappy workers 10% less productive

Enjoy what you are doing. If there is no entertainment value in your work then there really is no point in doing it.

Work is fun – engrave it in your heart.

Personal belief: My work should be directly proportionate to my happiness – the more work I do, the happier I become.

Having a good time at work and realizing work is good isn’t the same thing.

Work being good means you take pride in what you do, enjoy the challenge, and look forward to each day with enthusiasm and optimism. Work being good means enjoying the negotiating, the day-to-day challenges, the uncertain future, and even the stresses and the disappointments.

Having a good time at work means enjoying with your colleagues, chatting and not being stressed.

It isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a temporary thing, it lasts while the fun lasts but quickly flags once the excitement and the elation has worn off.

  1. Put things in perspective

This last item is meant to keep us grounded and remember why we are doing all this.

When all is said and done, it is only a job. It isn’t your health, your family, your life , or your soul.

Having a bad day at work shouldn’t cause you to:

Lose sleep, lose appetite, drink more, smoke more, get depressed

But we all know how often these things happen because of a bad work day. Yes we may have had a whole series of bad days, maybe even multiple seasons of horrible days. But come to think of it , if you take them off one by one, it is just a bad day.

But we have to learn how to switch off, relax, not take it too seriously, enjoy it more and put things into perspective. Get a hobby, do something you love aside from work.

Don’t take home work with you. What’s the point of decreasing hours spent at the office, when you treat your home as an extension of it.

Remember, nobody looks back in their deathbed and wishes they had spent more time at the office.





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