It often seems that everyone in Singapore is hurrying to get things done, which is actually true enough. According to a survey conducted by The Conference Board, Singaporeans consistently rank among employees with the longest working hours, with 1 in 5 employees working for more than eleven hours daily.
However, as the proverb goes, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy—besides, being busy doesn’t always mean being productive—and perhaps we could all benefit from being less busy. So here are 10 things you can do now to do exactly that:
- Focus on only the things you MUST do. We all have lots to do every, but some items on our to-do list are more important than others. Focus on finishing those before attending to your smaller tasks.
- Work on one thing at a time. Does multi-tasking mean you get to do more? According to recent research, not really. Working with divided attention actually spells lower productivity, so finish one task first before working on the next.
- Record your accomplishments. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when we have so much to do that we don’t seem to make any progress. The solution: record every task that you’ve accomplished. This way, you can always check that you’re making progress and you become more conscious of how you spend your time.
- Make the most of your work rhythm. The human body don’t work regularly like computers—we actually have peak productivity hours and low productivity hours. Know when are yours—in the morning, midday, afternoon or evening?—and concentrate on work on these hours.
- Don’t spend so much time on trivial tasks. We get it, some people need to do certain tasks to get them primed for proper work. But if you spend just checking your emails, making coffee and sharpening pencils, you’re really just wasting time and not doing any actual work.
- Don’t underestimate your work. The Hofstadter’s Law states that things always take longer than you think they would. So work on your tasks as soon as you can and set and follow a time when you should finish them.
- Use your time to help others. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it works. The principle behind this is that when you help others with their work, it establishes a productive mindset in you, which primes you up to tackling your own tasks.
- Avoid time debting tasks. Time debts are what you get with tasks that only lead on to more tasks such as setting up meetings (means you will use up more time in the actual meeting later on) and answering your emails (this often ends in a never-ending cycle of replies).
- Slow down. We’re a culture addicted to urgency, but working fast doesn’t always mean working well. So take a moment to sit down, get your bearing and your priorities right—and breathe—before you plunge yourself again into your work.
- Don’t take pride about being busy. Always being busy (or claiming to be busy) gives us a sense of moving with a purpose, that we’re getting things done—even if the things we’re doing are not really that important. Again, it’s all about doing working on the right task, one at a time.
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