Recently I was coaching a client on her productivity levels at work and how she was feeling, and she said “I seem to spend a lot of time faffing in the morning, then get my head down, but I always work late because I never seem to get everything done.  Then I get annoyed for working late and not having time for anything else. And I’m so tired!”

Does that sound familiar?

  • Working long hours?  
  • Not being productive or effective?  
  • Managing some focused, concentrated work-time but not for sustained periods?  
  • Faffing, procrastinating, putting off doing things?  
  • Getting frustrated with yourself, or angry at your lack of discipline or willpower?  
  • Feeling exhausted?

If so you’re not alone, because this is without doubt one of the biggest issues I deal with.    And it’s a peculiarly modern phenomenon.

My parents’ generation seemed to have less angst, and a more structured approach to work time, home time, family time, and holiday time.  Nowadays the lines have blurred. Work time blends into home time with more of us working from home. Work time also blends into home and family time with more of us constantly connected via mobile and social media.  For many it even blends with holiday time for the same reason.

So if you’re exhausted and often feel ineffective and non-productive when you’re working, it’s time to take a good look at yourself!  

It’s time to examine whether this is really how you want to live your life.

And (forgive me for being blunt), don’t give me any of that ‘I don’t even have time to blow my own nose so how do I have time for this’ baloney because we ALL have the same amount of time.  We can’t save it up and use it at a later date. We can’t borrow some and pay it back later. So this is either important to you or not!

If it’s important, wouldn’t you want to understand how some people work less yet still seem to have more energy and be more productive than you?  How they seem to get things done, earn more money, and still have time to enjoy their life, without the guilt and worry?

Now of course, what you perceive in others might not be the reality they experience (but that’s the subject of another post.)  And where it is, there are two things these people are likely to have. 

  • Clarity and an understanding of what’s important to them, about what they value in life, and about how to ensure their work and everyday life honours this by working to self-established boundaries and work structures.
  • Focus.  They give their focused and concentrated attention to the important things in their life and work.  They honour their boundaries and work structures to get things done and this allows them the freedom (and time) to enjoy life more.

So what can you do if you too want to reduce the time you spend working so that you can benefit from increased energy and productivity levels?

Here are my 3 Top Tips to Get You Started

1.  Get clear on what’s not working for you right now.  

Write a list of all the things, situations and people you’ve been putting up with.  

Examine the list, considering the consequences to you – emotionally, intellectually, physically, financially.

Decide what you will stop doing.

2.  Get clear on the important people and things in your life.

Write a list of everyone and everything you love and value about your life.  (I know you know this already but do it anyway!)

If I looked at your life right now would I know what’s on your list?

Would my impression of your priorities (based on how and where you spend your time) match yours?

Consider the consequences of what’s currently happening – you saying ‘yes’ to the people and things on list 1 and ‘no’ to those on list 2.  

Decide what and who you will say yes to, and who or what to refuse.  

Decide what you will start doing.

3.  Establish boundaries.

You are in control of your working hours, either wholly or partially (because I'm talking here of all your "work", not simply what you get paid for!)  And you are in control of your non-working hours.  This means you can choose when to work and when to take time out.

Decide on your ideal working hours/times and stick to these for one week, then review.

Consider when you’re about to go on holiday or have an immovable deadline, how you always get things done?  

Remember how energised you feel when you return to work after a holiday or break? Scheduling fewer working hours is often the best thing you can do for your energy and productivity levels.

When you take a little time to do these exercises, get clear, and actually work fewer hours, you’ll be more focused at work and at home.  You’ll expend so much less energy on beating yourself up, and you’ll worry less.  Reducing or eliminating your anxiety and stress levels will leave you with more energy, which will help you stay motivated.  And when you’re clear, motivated and energised you’re much less likely to procrastinate, faff or put things off. A win/win/win!

So, if the first step to focus is clarity.  The second is to develop a simple plan. And the third is to action that plan with concentrated attention and effort.  

Bonus Tip to Help You Focus

Chunk up your time into 60 or 90 minute slots (or any timeframe that feels right to you), and chunk your activities into similar types or projects.  

Put on a timer and focus on one particular project at a time, with no distractions (that means no answering the phone, picking up emails or messages!)  

When the timer goes off stop what you’re doing and have a short (timed) break.  You’ll find you’ll be raring to finish your work or get something else started when the timer goes off to start work again.

I’d love to know how you get on with this.  

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay