My 7 Steps to Getting More Done
15 years ago, my industry was filled with sweatshops. People slept under their desks, drank Red Bull by the gallon, and never had lives. We kidded ourselves, but it wasn’t any fun.
So when I founded my second company, we tried an experiment. Except when absolutely necessary, we’d work normal hours and stay home on weekends. People thought we were crazy, but it didn’t take long before we realized something: The breaks we took were great for our productivity—and our lives.
I know you can find a lot of people these days telling you that you can get more done by working less. While this is true, I’m afraid many of them overcomplicate the process. If you take good breaks regularly—ones where you really get away from things—you’ll be more focused and productive. It’s that simple. So I thought I’d share some practical guidelines our team follows to make sure we get away.
1. Limit screen time. Take a break all screens for a significant amount of time every day and connect with the people around you. For example, go to lunch with someone and leave your phone at your desk. Or when you get home, shut the TV off, toss the phone on a table in a different room, and have a glass of wine with your partner. You’ll be surprised how much your concentration improves at work.
2. Don’t book meetings or phone calls on weekends. This seems like a small thing, but don’t do it. You need time when you’re not working, so do as little as possible on those days. If you can’t avoid it, block off a whole day of freedom, rather than spreading the work over both. A solid break is better than two interrupted ones.
3. Take real vacations. I have ritualized annual vacations (family trips, camping with friends, hanging out with relatives) that I never miss. And when I’m on them, I disconnect from the office almost completely so that when I return, I’m ready to go.
4. Make it natural. It makes no sense getting stressed about relaxation. Some people, for example, advise answering your email twice a day or limiting web surfing to 30 minutes. That’s going after the symptom not the cause, and it puts unnatural limits on what should be a natural process. Instead, take breaks where they make sense to you in your life.
5. Develop outside interests. If you take time off, you’ll realize that you like not working. So find or rediscover an outside interest and spend time with people you enjoy. That way, you’ll be inspired to work harder to preserve time for yourself and the things you love to do.
6. Quit your current job if this is not possible. I know that sounds a little extreme and may not be feasible for everyone. But people who are making you work 24/7 aren’t allowing you to live up to your true potential. Let someone else work for them if you can.
7. Discuss it with your partner. The amount you work is a decision that affects more people than you. Everyone is different, so make sure the most important person in your life agrees with your approach to the life/work balance.
So how do you get away from it all?