WHAT IT MEANS: You aren’t doing yourself any favors by burning the midnight oil at the office. In today’s economic climate, where downsizing has left a lot of employees doing the work of two or three, we all feel the need to pull our weight or end up next on the chopping block. However, if you’re working late because you don’t feel like you’re getting enough done during the day, a few adjustments to your work habits may save you some time.
Here are some ways to be more efficient and effective during the workday:
• Don’t be a maniac multitasker. As easy as it may seem to talk on the phone while answering a few emails and finishing up that report, more and more research is finding that our brains just aren’t wired to do more than one thing at a time. When you think you’re doing two tasks at once, you’re really just switching back and forth between them, which actually takes longer than if you did just one thing at a time.
• Take advantage of your morning momentum. For most of us, efficiency is greater in the morning, but we start our days wasting it on phone calls or going online. Spend 90 minutes first thing in the morning doing a task you know will require a great deal of focus, then check your calls and emails.
• Make 90 your lucky number. After your morning creativity spurt, carve the rest of your day into 90-minute work sessions in which you focus on one thing, and one thing only. At the end of each session, spend 20 to 30 minutes doing more fragmented tasks before you begin another longer one.
• Breathe! Our days and weeks tend to get more frantic as the hours tick by. When stress starts to tear at your attention, meditate for five minutes by simply sitting still and focusing attention on your breathing. The more stressed out you get, the more likely you are to put off tasks that require concentration.
• Enjoy life. The authors write that one possible explanation for the reduced vocabulary skills in long-hours workers could be a lack of time spent on nonwork-related intellectual pursuits. If leaving an eight-hour day is still impossible after your attempts to improve efficiency, at least spend the weekends with a book club, visiting art museums, or doing other creative activities that allow you to develop intellectually.
You can also check out the remedy finder for more ways to ease stress