Work Less To Achieve More

A pretty trivial statement in the age of productivity and no, I don´t want you to read the book "The 4 hour work-week by Tim Ferriss" (Although there are some nice approaches to decelerate life in general.)

However, what I was going to say instead is that it has become more and more a habit to take breaks from my work day routine, speaking from 4 hour straight worktime in a row to chunk of works in 20-60 minute bursts.
As a result I found that at the end of the day I feel more satisfied and when counting down what I have done in a day it occurs that it was a more productive day as well.

How can that be?

My theory for that is not based on the Pomodoro technique, which requires you to set a timer for a given timeframe of work. I work from home and this means there is always some other work to do and besides that a kid that distracts me every once in a while and probably more often in the future. Another reason why I can´t se a timer like in the Pomodoro technique.

What I do instead is to write a daily list of goals but with the timeframe of the given assignment in mind, which means if I have something on my list that is going to be taking 3, 4 or 6 hours, I write for that specific point "Part 1 of doing the illustration for..." Or I split the work in smaller parts like:"gathering references for project XYZ"

Important to note is that I just use post-it notes to write the lists, every day, not more space than this little yellow sticker, which means I´m limited by what I can do. And at the end of the day, without even looking on the list in the meantime, to 90% of the time, all points are done.

Now to the tricky part that took me a while to figure out:
When doing breaks, like going to make a coffee, going to grab a snack or something else, I try to look around and see if I can do something useful in the place. For example, the coffeemachine is in the kitchen and while it takes a few seconds for the machine to be ready, I can put the dishes in the washer, clean the table and when the coffee is in the making I still have time to take the vacuum cleaner and go with it through the kitchen.

All stuff that requires possibly 5 minutes or 10 of my time and as a reward I have a cup of coffee and some minutes to look into facebook or read my favorite blog news, that´s my personal celebration of drinking the coffee.

But also other habits, such as playing with the kid, reading a book or doing something other unrelated to work, the outcome is a "time-off" which is needed for the brain to structure things and re-arrange them. Very often I find myself jumping up from the couch that I have in my workplace for chilling, with an idea for a blog post, or a tutorial, or a new work, etc.

I have another post regarding this topic from 2010 here: and I think it is still relevant as hell, especially if you are working from home, which will become the norm for many employees of the future.

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


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