“The way we measure productivity is flawed. People checking their BlackBerry over dinner is not the measure of productivity.”
Tim Ferriss (Author, The Four-Hour Work Week)
“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.”
Abraham Lincoln (American President)
“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”
Peter Drucker (American Businessman and Author, The Effective Executive)
Everyone wants to be more productive.
We’re all trying to work better, faster, and get more done.
The problem is that we’re constantly bombarded with more information and more distractions, which compromises productivity.
When it comes to productivity, there are 2 schools of thought.
One is that you need to be more efficient.
If you’re efficient, you can get things done faster, you can create efficient systems, and you can scale.
The other school of thought is that you need to be more effective.
You have to be selective in doing the right things, and doing them well.
But, there’s a difference between efficiency and effectiveness.
What you really need to do in order to be productive is to balance efficiency with effectiveness.
When you try to just be effective, you choose the right things, but then you don’t create efficient processes for getting those things done.
And, when you try to just be efficient, you do things right, but you’re not always doing the right things.
So, you do one or the other without balancing them correctly.
The key to maximizing productivity is balancing efficiency with effectiveness with the right ratio.
According to Abraham Lincoln, that ratio is a 2:1 effective to efficient ratio.
He said,”Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.”
So, what he’s saying is that for those first 4 hours, he’s going to focus on making his axe as sharp as possible, and prepare it for the best chopping.
That’s the effectiveness part.
And then, for those last 2 hours, he’s going to chop down the tree.
That’s the efficiency part.
Most people just grab the axe and start chopping.
With a dull axe, you’re hacking away at the poor tree with double the effort for half the results — and looking like an idiot.
This is the same thing as waking up in the morning and going right to your email inbox and answering them in the order that they were received.
You’re being efficient, perhaps, but you’re not being effective.
The alternative is no better.
You take 5 hours and 45 minutes sharpening the axe, and then have no time to chop.
When it is time to chop, you risk an imprecise cut, rushed work, and possibly chopping your leg off.
Too much time spent on perfecting the preparation, and no time to execute.
Remember the ratio… you want to focus on effectiveness twice as much as efficiency.
Not 100% on effectiveness, not 100% on efficiency, but a 2:1 ratio.
It means if you have 6 hours to get work done, you want to spend the first 4 hours figuring out exactly what is the most important thing for you to do.
This means planning, and actually going through all the work you have to do and prioritizing it.
Focus on the most important things and the most difficult things to do first.
And, for the last 2 hours, just focus on execution.
How Stress Compromises Productivity
The biggest challenge to this is going to be in your ability to plan and execute, and stay relaxed.
Relaxed productivity is the secret sauce to this formula.
This is not easy to do, as most of us are productive but stressed out of our minds, or we’re relaxed and just not getting anything done.
The key to finding balance between preparedness and execution revolves around being relaxed.
Seems counterintuitive, right?
In reality, being stressed decreases overall performance and focus.
Lousy coworkers, a crabby boss, and unmitigated distractions are going to stress you out, steal your focus, and sabotage your productivity.
While these factors are common, they compromise your ability to produce.
Four studies including over 700 participants published in the Journal of Labor Economics found that happiness increased productivity by 12%.
An emotionally healthy workplace will see more employee loyalty, fewer sick days, less stress, and higher productivity than one full of workaholic, stressed out workers.
Unhappy employees are 10% less productive than average employees.
Beyond employee mood, working too long without breaks proves neither effective nor efficient.
A study out of Cornell University showed that maximum productivity was measured when people focused for 52 minutes and then took 17 minutes for a break.
What happens when employees plough through work without taking a break is that they take longer to complete their tasks, and usually with more errors and impaired judgment.
Not only do people need time to take breaks, they also need time to psychologically detach entirely from work.
Employees in a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that people who could not detach from their jobs became emotionally exhausted, reported more psychosomatic complaints, and became less engaged with their work.
Lower engagement equals lower productivity (and lower happiness).
Henry Ford knew this and reduced his workers’ hours from 48 to 40 hours per day, and from 6 to 5 days per week, back in the 1920s.
Yet, the average American now works 47 hours a week, works more days than Europeans, more hours per week, and has lower productivity across the board.
How To Be Effective And Efficient By Following The Law of Relaxed Productivity
So, people are working longer and harder, despite what the research says, to prove their value and try to get ahead.
If you’ve fallen into this trap, you aren’t actually performing at your best.
And, I bet you’re not happy, either.
So, how do you stay relaxed and maximize your productivity?
Reduce stress by taking frequent breaks, psychologically detaching from work, taking all of your vacation days, and being happy.
You can be intense and still follow the Law of Relaxed Productivity by following these tips…
1. Avoid the creep.
The creep… you sit down to start your work, and everything else starts to creep in.
You respond to just one email, you take just one call, and you keep stretching out your day.
Next thing you know, you’re working late, taking work home, and totally stressed out.
Start by setting tighter deadlines.
Be realistic, but setting timelines that are too flexible will inevitably mean you’re pushing right to the end.
Parkinson’s Law says that the amount of work you have will extend to fill the time you have allotted to do it.
In other words if you have assigned 8 hours to complete a project, it will take the full 8 hours.
If you have 4 hours for the same project, you’ll somehow be able to complete it in 4 hours.
If you give yourself no deadline, or loose deadlines, your execution time will creep up and it’ll take you longer to execute.
You’ll no longer be efficient.
If you follow the 2:1 ratio, you’ll be able to prepare and prioritize, and streamline your energies so that when it’s time to execute, you’ll have confidence in your plan and just need to focus on completion.
Know the time of day when you feel most creative and the most focused.
Don’t fight your biology. Instead, work with it by being strategic with your schedule.
Being prepared and organized will increase your ability to feel calm under pressure.
Using the right ratio will ensure that you’re both efficient and effective.
You’ll catch time-wasters and mistakes before they happen.
If you accurately assess what needs to be done and create a realistic but tight timeline for it, you’ll be able to accomplish more in less time by maximizing your productivity in this way.
2. Eliminate distractions.
If you set the right deadlines and do the right prep work, you’ll still sabotage your efforts if you aren’t protecting your space.
Maximum efficiency happens within constructed space.
Things that you can control.
Like… removing distractions.
Get a handle on your space.
Close the door, mute your phone, turn off your notifications.
Barricade yourself in an environment that’s comfortable for you and allows you to zone into what you need to do.
Protect yourself from distracting people.
This means you have to ignore your codependent mother, or boyfriend’s litany of texts or calls.
This means you set boundaries with your gossipy friends.
This means you establish a do-not-disturb and back-off zone away from your negative coworkers.
And, you say, “no”.
Say “no” to anything that is going to steal your focus for even a minute.
When you’re disciplined in this way and actively protecting your focus, you’ll be able to maximize efficiency while minimizing mistakes and wasted time that are going to steal from your effectivity.
3. Take smart breaks.
This is where you get control of your time.
52 minutes on. 17 minutes off (and out).
Set a timer or use a reminder app, and buckle down and get in the zone and work intensely for 52 minutes.
And then, take a break.
A real one.
Not an email catch-up and not a multitasking expedition.
Get up and move.
And then, come back for another round.
This is how elite performers get the most out of their training sessions but actually have to train less for the best results.
They know how to focus intensely and then take real breaks.
This is how you ultimately do more in less time in the ideal efficient/effective ratio.
The breaks help release the intensity, giving you a chance to reset and relax before coming back to attack with fresh focus.
Don’t just take breaks in the day — take days off.
Take vacations — all the days you get.
Learn how to psychologically detach from your work in short and extended breaks, so that you’re not reducing cognitive function and mental focus with overwork, emotional drain, or burnout.
Workaholics are typically inefficient, make more mistakes, and are mega-stressed.
The least productive of all for the sake of proving their value and ego.
4. Be happy.
What a cliché, right?
The science across the board shows that happier people are more productive.
Because they’re relaxed.
Because they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Because they aren’t over-reactive and over-emotional.
Because they have learned how to keep things in perspective.
The other key to happiness?
Stop doing what you hate.
Stop dragging yourself to a job where you’re surrounded by losers.
Get out of toxic relationships with manipulative people.
Get unstuck and stop spinning your wheels.
Know what you’re here for — align with your purpose and the life you really want.
Set bigger goals and surround yourself with people who are positive, like-minded, and supportive of your success.
The key to maximizing your productivity is to balance being efficient with being effective. That is, the right amount of preparation with the right amount of time for execution. This means controlling your focus by controlling your environment. Be strategic with when you work and how you work. Follow the right ratio of efficiency to being effective to do more in less time. Abraham Lincoln’s Law of Relaxed Productivity and a 2:1 ratio for efficiency over effectiveness will allow you to stay relaxed and maximize your productivity.
To learn more about the 4 Ways To Be More Efficient And Effective For Increased Productivity, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the wait list to create your Escape Plan and Achieve Intelligent Alignment.