Working long hours is the number one reason for job-related stress.
Then, why working too many hours per week is still a problem for so many people? Is it because they don’t have enough time in a week to complete job tasks? Or is it something else?
In this blog post, we discuss time-management techniques that will help you reduce your working hours to a minimum.
Stop complaining that you don’t have time and start applying these techniques to notice changes in your time management skills as soon as within three months.
Working Long Hours Sucks (But It Doesn’t Have to)
“How many hours per week should I work to get the desired results?”
You often hear struggling managers ask this question.
The trick is you don’t need to work long hours – it is the wrong question. You need to fill out the limited number of hours you have with different things.
The most important lesson learned from working too many hours is that such a schedule kills your life. It puts you on the hamster wheel to constantly do more and get the same results. Stress becomes inevitable.
Time Management Techniques to Stop Working Long Hours
The first thing to do is to break the blatant lie that you don’t have enough hours in the day. Everyone has the same number of hours – around 700,000 in an 80-year lifespan. It helps to understand time limitations if you visualize hours in cube blocks.
The second thing to do is understand that there will always be something that requires your time – even if it is only work-related activities. So you need to be rock-hard disciplined about how you spend your time. It will help your health and your life, and in turn, bring incremental profits to your business.
Here is what to do, step-by-step:
1. Know your goals and priorities.
You need absolute clarity about your goals.
Why you spend so many hours doing the things you do? Instead of doing things that feel good (unless that is a goal by itself), do activities that contribute to your goals.
Apply these two simple rules:
- Activities that add to your goals must become priorities.
- Activities that are distractions must be eliminated.
But first, you need to understand your KPIs. KPIs are tangible, measurable results for your goals. KPIs help you set priorities that bring you closer to your goals.
For example, increasing revenue by 15% by the second quarter may be the KPI for the sales team. Getting 35 marketing-qualified leads per month may be the KPI for the marketing team.
Unless you know your KPIs, there is no way to work without stress. You will lack focus for the most important tasks and continue working long hours every day of the week.
2. Discover the activities that help you accomplish your goals.
Now you know your goals and how to measure them.
This next time management tip requires you spend some time reflecting on the things you do every day.
Dig deep into how you spend your time investigating the type of activities you need to work on to achieve your goals.
You may be surprised by how many things waste your time – exhausting Zoom conferences, mindless website scrolling, or answering people’s questions are chewing upon your precious schedule and add long hours.
Invest your time in result-driven activities that help you realize your goals.
3. Analyze your biggest time-wasters.
Go back in the past week (or month) and explore how you spent your time. What activities did you do? Write down your goals and priorities on a list next to each other. Then, write down the essential activities that contribute to achieving those goals.
If you don’t know what those activities are, you need to find out where the long hours go. Review your week and see how much of your time was wasted on other people’s priorities and unimportant things.
Now you have a system that helps you work on your priorities, goals, and intentions. In this way, you become aware and in control of working long hours. You can work independently on a framework that is driven by yourself. You are the boss of your time and can deliver the performance required to reach your goals.
4. Map your past activities
Past activity mapping is a time management technique that will help you focus on activities that deliver the most important results. Create a triple-layer system in which you separate all activities into three layers:
- Key activity time: your most important, result-driven activities.
- Other activity time: other, less important activities.
- Blindspot time: time spent on others,
This system will help you move from working 70 hours a week to freeing as much as 30% of your working time.
5. Understand your blind spot activities
Let’s sum it up: blind spot activities are those driven by others.
It is hard to imagine how much time we spend on others. If you mentor, coach, or provide simple assistance to others such as approvals or authorizations, your biggest obstacle to productive time will be the blind spot time. Useless meetings, for example, can devour your focus time and leave you without key activity time to be spent on goal progress.
6. Design your perfect day prioritizing key activity time.
To make this decision based on priorities and effectiveness, you need transparency and tracking of your progress. This allows you to learn and improve over time – based on facts, not opinions.
Once you establish a performance-driven tracking system, it needs to become a new habit to bring results.
Building new habits is always daunting at the beginning. But stick to it, and you will find it ingrained in your lifestyle in about three months.
7. Set expectations in your environment.
You not only decrease stress, but you get the freedom of choice – to do what you want with your time.
Timebox activities according to priority and create a tool that will let others when and how available you are.
Link this timeboxing system to a calendar (it can be a booking app) and let others use the available times.
Now everyone knows when you are available. You have set expectations to restrict unnecessary interruptions and distractions. You get the time your need to work on goals and priorities.
8. Stick to your plan.
The easy way to stick to the plan is if you have a system to eliminate distractions and maximizes your key activity time and share it with others. Respect your time, and others will, too.
To prevent falling into your old habits, use this self-support system:
- When you get a meeting request, send a link to your calendar, and ask the person to book a free slot and fill in the questions they want to discuss with you.
- Switch off all sources of interruption during your focus time.
- Review calendar bookings and deny invites for no-purpose meetings. If the person hasn’t filled in the questions, ask for clarifications.
- Learn to say no. Since there will always be more work waiting for you, you must say more no’s to other activity time and blindspot activity time. Be polite but firm. Delegating less important tasks is one way to free more hours for key activity time.
The system is the backbone of your business. It provides a structure that you can use as a framework for you and your team to stop working long hours. Automatically, the stress is gone.
Do you want to get more done with less stress? Click below for workload reduction tips and tricks!