Quality Over Quantity: How to Work Less and Do More

As humans, we have an innate urge to work and be productive. This characteristic only intensifies if you have an entrepreneur mindset. But at some point, the hustle turns into a game of chasing your own tail. The amount of work you do should be yielding to a fair or close to equal fruitful outcome. One often realizes this is out of balance when the middle of the week approaches and you feel burned out or exhausted. While this is a common trait for high achieving persons, it is also the trait that leads to early burn out in a corporate setting and a high failure rate for start-ups and side investments.

Slave to the Calendar

As organizers and doers, we have a variety of tools to “increase productivity” and keep track of all things and to ensure our ducks are in a row. While these tools are highly effective in scheduling our day, collecting notes on what is done and what has yet to be done, is it also stretching your day or week too thin? You have to look at these tools and ask yourself, am I a slave to the tools that run my life? If your google calendar is ringing halfway into an uncompleted task and forcing you into another meeting or task, is it really serving its purpose? If your to-do list is longer then the amount of hours in a workday, is it serving its purpose?

No, it is not.

These tools are to make your workday flow smoothly, to allow you to eat lunch in peace and close down your day at a reasonable time to ensure a restful night for the following day. While a hectic week every now and again is normal, you cannot allow yourself to get used to a week after week routine of running yourself dry. This will quickly lead to a lack of fulfillment in the work that you do and kill your enthusiasm. It ultimately also makes you less creative, less productive, and harms your job or business. If you recognize these traits in yourself, here is how you can begin to undo the “Slave to the Calendar Syndrome”

Step One: Time to Clean House

One of the easiest things to do is mistake business for productivity. Just because you have been running around all morning does not mean you have completed a task, but rather dissipated a lot of energy that you will not be getting back. This is when the saying “Work smarter not harder” directly applies. When you are sitting down and organizing your tasks for the week or the day, you should be correlating every action item to a direct outcome or milestone that you want to achieve for the week. Of these outcomes, you have to pick the three or four most important ones. These “Key Four” are the tasks that reach the highest goal for your week, and roll into a bigger goal; like your quarter goal or monthly goal. In deciding these action items you can filter the rest of your to-do list as “supporting items” or items that would be nice to get done, but ultimately do not affect your Key Four goals. This is also an opportunity to slim down the hours of the week that make you busy but may not yield a profit.

Self Care is Non-Negotiable

Upon setting into place your Key Four action items, you will have time in your calendar that is unfilled. This is a great time to create time slots in your week to decompress and take time to rejuvenate. Creating this time slot in your calendar forces you to save it for yourself. During this time, you should be doing something mentally and physically relaxing, whatever that may mean for you. Many studies have shown that having time to decompress and get enough sleep directly affects one’s efficiency and ability to think clearly. This also extends to extra-curricular activities that you may do throughout your week. This can be anything from outreach programs and mentor-ships to volunteering and giving back. While these are noble things to do, it is important to limit the hours it takes away from your week. Nothing should be a trade-off for your health and well being. Remember it is about having the most impact, not being the busiest. Focus your energy on the quality of work you do as opposed to the quantity of work you do.

Help Wanted?

So you have cleaned out your google calendar and formed your week to be efficient in achieving your weekly and quarterly goals (Check you out!) But you find yourself running behind on your tasks because you are getting caught up in the smaller tasks. This could be tasks like replying to emails or forgetting to make reservations and such. These tasks may seem minor but it is the glue that allows the operation to run smoothly, you simply can’t go without. This is when one should consider getting an assistant. Nowadays thanks to our friend, modern technology, you can hire an online virtual assistant to help with these smaller action items. You can start by hiring a part-time remote worker and increase the hours as your company begins to grow. If you are in a corporate setting, it can be as simple as having a discussion with your boss and explaining how the workload is changing. Chances are they probably do not want your wage level to be wasting time completing smaller tasks that eat up company time. you just might be surprised at how helpful a part-time assistant can be.

Always Remember the Bigger Picture

Overall, Inclusion of these things will create a steady routine for a healthy work-life balance. Stress can easily create an uncomfortable work environment, and these often trickle into other aspects of one’s life. You can choose to acknowledge this early on and create healthy habits that can balance out even the most stressful of days. This leads to healthier relationships in your home life and in the workplace and ultimately a healthier and happier you. As high achievers, it is important to remind yourself that you work to live, not the other way around. All the work that you do is so you can enjoy your life. Never let yourself forget that.

Written by Sina K.

Sina K is a recent graduate and Engineer at one of the top aerospace companies in the world. Along with writing, her passions include increasing minority presence in the tech and STEM community and promoting financial literacy and independence in our communities.