In this day and age, gone are the days when a work week should necessarily consist of five days of work. In fact, based on an experiment conducted by Microsoft, there is a better alternative that can even produce better results.
Recently, Microsoft announced that they experimented with a four-day work week at its Japan office, and productivity jumped by 40%. This experiment involved not only reducing work week by one day but also reducing the amount of time spent at meetings, implementing a 30-minute time limit for meetings and encouraging communication.
Similarly, a New Zealand-based estate planning firm Perpetual Garden conducted the same experiment and found that it benefited both the Company and its employees. The Company has now adopted the four-day work week permanently.
Surprising, isn’t it? Why does less time spent on work achieve better results?
Actually, less is more. By reducing the work hours and increasing your focus and the intensity of your work efforts, you can achieve significant results and boost your overall happiness.
Most of us spend an average of 8 hours per day on work. But if you look at your calendar closely, you will find out that an important portion of your time is not spent on producing results. We're overwhelmed by meetings and constant distractions from our colleagues and work environment. Also, oftentimes, we pretend to be busy, but we're not doing the actual work. Because of that, we end up working long hours and get exhausted at the end of the day.
But how do we go about it? Our energy is the key. Once we learn how to better manage our energy, we will own our day.
In fitness, we have this famous concept of "HIIT," which stands for "High-Intensity Interval Training." It means doing very intense anaerobic exercises in short periods of time with regular, short breaks. It is proven to burn fat faster and to achieve greater fitness results compared to a regular/low-intensity and longer-time workout. In fact, we're able to achieve better performance when we're extremely focused on the hard part of the exercise itself until we are too exhausted to continue and then altering with recovery periods and going back to the intense exercise again.
The same principle applies in our work life. I like to use the acronym "HIIW," which stands for “High-Intensity Interval Work." Avoid long and unproductive hours; instead, plan your work in short sessions with undivided attention and then take short breaks after each session. Regular breaks actually provide you with the fuel for physical energy, which in turn increases your focus during the work session. You will find yourself achieving more in less time and feeling accomplished at the end of the day.
To practice HIIW, here are some micro steps you can take immediately:
- Ask for the objective and agenda of the meeting before accepting any meeting. Say no to irrelevant meetings.
- Block time on your calendar for important work. Set the alarm for every 50 mins or 1 hour to take a short break. You can move your body, go for a walk or listen to your favourite music during your break.
- Bring high-protein snacks to work and keep hydrated during the day.
What could be better than finishing your day earlier and having more time available to do some fun stuff? Start cultivating the focus mindset today, doing the work that matters. Because building good habits is ultimately going to change your workstyle, and by changing your workstyle, you will be more productive and happier :)
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