How to work smarter (not harder)

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about how to work smarter not harder…

When I confess that I am the hardest worker I know, I am not bragging. I’m admitting a deficiency.

I was born a hard worker and I see the same tendency in my three adult kids, so I’m certain there is a genetic component to this attitude. But none of us needs to be prisoners of our genes!

I was reminded of this truth, after reading a recent Farnam Street blog post under the headline, “Smarter, Not Harder: How to Succeed at Work.”

The author suggested we think about our work differently, beginning with how we think about our day.

Instead of visualizing it as one long “to do” list, he suggested we imagine our days as having 96 blocks of energy, with each block being a 15-minute chunk of time (four blocks per hour × 24 hours = 96). A week has 672 blocks, and a year has 34,944.

Here’s what he says we should do with this information:

Given that we’re human, we need to allocate some blocks to activities that humans require for good health, like sleeping. Sleeping for eight hours uses 32 blocks of your 96-block day. Let’s say that another 32 blocks go toward family, friends, commuting, and general life stuff. That leaves 32 blocks for you to apply your energy toward keeping your job and doing something amazing.

The next secret, he argues, is to focus ruthlessly on three goals. Three. That’s it. With increased focus (which means we will need to ignore other goals, freeing up more time for the top three), we will be able to accomplish something significant.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on June 25/18.

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