6 Mental Adjustments to Help You Work Less and Accomplish More

by Nate Matherson on Startup Grind

As an entrepreneur, your time is constantly on demand. Urgent emails, meetings, client phone calls, and deadlines derail your thoughts and hinder productivity. Some people compensate for the lost time by putting in long hours at the office or in the evenings at home. However, while you may be working longer, you might be hurting the quality of output.

A recent study by Stanford University showed that long hours hurt performance. Productivity per hour drops significantly when the workweek surpasses 50 hours. After 55 hours, productivity crashes so badly that it is worse than not working at all. The study showed that people who clocked in 70 or more hours a week accomplished less than those who did 55 hours.

The human brain is not meant to work ten hours a day or more, day after day. Our culture values long hours with little breaks. As a CEO or founder, it can be even harder to switch it off at the end of the day and transition into downtime. However, it is a crucial shift to make to improve creativity and productivity. You should work smarter and focus on efficiency rather than quantity of hours.

Avoid information overload

Our brains are bombarded with new information at an unprecedented rate. The claims on time have exploded over the past decade. Technology makes you accessible 24/7. The result is the brain loses the ability to focus on one task, making errors and brain fogs more common. Give your mind the time to grasp a task or problem. Then, come at it from different strategic angles.

To maximize time, make mental adjustments that empower you to work less and finish more. Use these six tips to increase productivity and get home at a reasonable hour:

1. Schedule everything

Use the office calendar to block out time for the tasks that need to get done each day. Setting aside time allows you to focus on the issues at hand, rather than trying to cram everything in at 10:00 p.m. Scheduling forces you to plan ahead and determine how much time each task will take. Rather than setting ten “priority” items, set a realistic goal of completing two or three “musts” a day. Otherwise, the to-do list is just a daunting string of chores that will never get done.

2. Give yourself a deadline

Make a contract with yourself to leave work at a certain time each day. Stick to the contract and leave your laptop at the office. Decide to leave at 5:30 p.m. and plan for it by working backwards. This mindset causes you to be efficient with your time and rank what is most important.

3. Reduce your presence

Many CEOs get caught in the trap of joining regular meetings on projects that are way below their scope. Stop micromanaging and trust your staff to handle projects. Only weigh in on decisions that need oversight.

4. Ditch the menial work

You get no prizes for managing your own calendar or maintaining inbox zero. Outsource these tasks to an administrative assistant. Hire a part-time virtual assistant inexpensively to manage minor tasks for you. This small expenditure will result in huge amounts of free time.

5. Make exercise a priority

Just ten minutes of exercise releases GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for soothing stress signals. Less stress and moving outside is a recipe for innovation. Make exercise a priority and incorporate it into your daily routine.

6. Schedule mini-adventures

Set aside time for small adventures and excursions. Go to a concert after work or canoe on the weekends. New experiences keep your mind fresh and nimble, improving your mindset for work.

In my experience…

It is possible to work less and get more done if you act strategically. Stop bad habits and make some mental adjustments. You can improve performance and bring new levels of innovation to the company. What do you do to get away from the stress of work? Tell me in the comments below!


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