Have you gotten through all the important tasks you need or hope to get done today? Neither have I. Yet with ever-more-loaded schedules, tight deadlines, and the constant flow of new opportunities, most of us are working longer, trying to fit it all in.
That’s the wrong approach. There’s plenty of research to show that working more and more hours simply drains our productivity, so that the net amount of work accomplished is the same, but the person doing the work is a whole lot more exhausted and cranky. So does that mean we’re just stuck, able to accomplish only so much no matter how much more productive we might wish to be?
Not necessarily. Help has arrived in the form of Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done, a new book by Josh Davis, PhD, director of research and lead professor at the NeuroLeadership Institute. Davis, who gives new meaning to the phrase “work smarter, not harder,” recommends that, instead of trying to cram more hours into our workdays or try to force ourselves to work all day at peak efficiency, we use brain science to help create briefer periods when we’re at our greatest effectiveness–what he calls “awesome.”
As his book’s title suggests, he thinks most people should try for two hours of awesomeness per day, although people’s capabilities and needs can vary. “Two hours are reasonable and achievable for most people,” he says. “A lot of people have no awesome hours in a day. There are times we either need to be or want to be on for more time than that. Maybe I’m running a workshop where I really need and want to be present for four straight hours, so getting myself set to be able to do that is important. Other times, I’ll have an hour-long session in the morning when I’m on, and maybe another two hours in the afternoon.”
The essential first step is to stop seeing yourself as a machine, he says. “It starts from a shift in understanding how we work based on the fact that we are biological creatures rather than computers. We have to set up the conditions that allow a biological creature to thrive, and when that happens we can do amazing things. We can figure out complex problems. And we have a very hard time making progress even on things that aren’t complex when we’re not operating well.”
Talking with Davis made me realize that many of my work habits are bad for my own productivity. In the first of two articles, he shares seven of his tips for jump-starting productivity and creativity. I’m planning to give most of them a try. How about you?
1. Be smart about your schedule.
“It makes sense to think about our days in terms of what the really important work we have to do that day is, and how to have the right mental energy for that work,” he says. “If I have some flexibility, how should I schedule that important work so I can do it when I’m at my best? If not, what should I do right before the important work?” Start with answers to those questions, he advises. Then fit in the tasks that are less important.
Read more at?INC.