Getting the job done day in and day out is tough. I always go through periods where my productivity starts slacking, and I can feel the laziness bug start creeping in. To get back on track, I follow a few steps and I'm back in no time. The harder part for most people is figuring out when and if they are productive at all. This is caused by the greatest productivity mistake that almost everyone makes. The idea that working longer means you contribute more.
Time and time again, I hear someone else who brags they pulled an all nighter or that they work 12-hour days. I believe that these people are among the most unproductive in our world today. And even worse, they don't know they are being unproductive. Below, I'll outline the problems with people who show off working long hours. If you have one of these people on your team, don't let their productivity practices rub off on you.
1. You're incentivized to waste time
If the only metric you use to track your work ethic is time, then you are subconsciously going to use as much of it as you can. People love the image of the person who works at the office until 2am every night. Then when they go to work, they start thinking they must do the same thing to be successful.
This forces them to sacrifice things like a social life, family, and hobbies. What these people fail to do is manage and watch their hour-to-hour productivity. You only have so much focus during the day. Eventually, you need to take a break and you should get out of the office.
When you do break down, you'll start spending time searching the web for nothing important or do work you should delegate. Before you know it, you're bitter that your work life sucks and it looks like no one else is working hard. To compensate, you show off to your other team members how long you work everyday. They give you a thumb up, go home, rest up, and come back the next day excited and productive.
2. Everyone else feels uncomfortable
The worst thing about the long hour person is that he or she makes everyone else in the office uncomfortable. It starts being a problem if people finish their work before 5pm. So now everyone is forced to perform useless tasks because that one person is in the office browsing the web until 2am. This kills company culture, and makes everyone unproductive.
You should be rewarded for getting work done early, not punished for it. When we have people on our team finish their work early, I tell them they're done for the day. It doesn't matter whether it's 7pm or 1pm. Success should be based on tangible results, not how long you stayed in the office.
3. You have no way to hold yourself accountable
When I wake up in the morning, I write down tangible things I want to accomplish. This morning, I wrote that I wanted to rehearse my pitch 50 times. Notice that I didn't put I wanted to practice my pitch for 12 hours. That' s a dumb way to get something done. In those 12 hours I could be listening to music for 10, and take an hour lunch break. But if I stay in the office really late, I'll feel that I got something done.
Instead, write and grade yourself by the things you get done. Always try to get more done in less time, and you'll be amazed how much more time you have for other areas of your life.