You aren’t alone if you’ve ever wished the day was 25 hours long. You also aren’t alone if you’ve ever felt lousy after witnessing someone else’s insane productivity. Berskshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett reads 500 pages a day. He’s one of the richest men in the world, and he still has enough time to read the equivalent of two books – every single day. The average person reads 1 book – per year. In fact, most CEOs and execs read upwards of 5 books a month. That’s pretty incredible when you consider the amount of responsibility on their plates. Exactly how are these high-performing people finding so much time to read? Well, the better question is: how are they so productive?
Ways to be more productive
You might assume that Warren Buffett and all these other show-offs can read so much because they’re Einstein-level smart. But that’s not necessarily the case. You don’t need to be a genius to make better use of your day. You just need to rethink the way you manage your tasks.
That might seem like counterintuitive advice for someone who wants to achieve more, but think about it. We often think that the more loaded our to-do lists are, the more we’ll get done. In actuality, a supersized to-do list never gets completed. Instead, cut it in half. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the span of an 8-hour work day. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the stress reduction and your newfound clarity.
Take your breaks.
Modern work culture often rewards the guys who work the most – the ones who eat lunch at their desks while replying to hundreds of emails or who skip lunch altogether to take that last-minute meeting. News flash – these are also the guys who have nervous breakdowns in the middle of the week. Take a break. Take several. Time away from your work gives you a chance to recharge, and you return to your desk refreshed and ready to crush it.
Do the hard stuff first.
You know that budget report that you’ve been dreading? Don’t save it for 4 p.m. Tackle it at the beginning of your day when you’re most alert. It gives you more to look forward to in the afternoon, and you won’t spend your entire work day feeling anxious about a task that you hate.
Make a system.
Some people think highly of those who fly by the seat of their pants, who wing it, who seem to thrive without structure. But those impulsive people are probably not the most productive employees at the office. Create a system for yourself that provides structure and organization. For example, checking your emails at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. each day gives you a schedule. Instead of refreshing your inbox every 10 minutes, you can free yourself up to get more important activities completed.
One thing at a time.
The attention economy often demands that we multi-task. It’s not uncommon to answer an email on your phone while you participate in a live meeting. But the more you divide your attention, the less effective you are. Give your full time and attention to a singular task, really nail it, and then move on to the next thing. If you don’t do this, odds are you’ll miss something, and you’ll waste time doing work over and over.
All in all, the most productive people don’t possess some superhuman ability to complete tasks faster than everyone else. They’re just more efficient. And with a few tweaks, you can be just as productive.