More Production In Doing Less

“Improved productivity means less human sweat, not more.” Henry Ford

In our busy world, we are often faced with the challenge of not having enough time needed to accomplish all the tasks that require our attention. Like it or not, we end up making choices. 

In pondering the challenge of time, I found an article worth investigating, titled 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing to be More Productive, Backed by Science.  I was compelled to read the article because of two elements in the title:  Stop Doing and Backed by Science.  Increased production through less effort backed by science?   A strategy for our time.  Count me in.

CamMi Pham, the author of this article, writes,“The key to success is not working hard. It’s working smart.”  Most of us have heard this statement. Perhaps we learned the philosophy from our parents or grandparents. I like to think of it as age-old wisdom . . . timeless truth that benefits everyone.  The first message in the article states: “Stop working overtime and increase your productivity instead.” Henry Ford was one of the first to test this theory. He decreased his factory workers’ time on the job from 10 hours to eight, and from six days to five, resulting in increased productivity.

This is not new information. Pham quotes a 1980 report from The Business Roundtable titled, “Scheduled Overtime Effect on Construction Projects.”  The conclusion of pertinent research was that reduced productivity was due to overtime.  The harder and longer we work renders us less efficient.

Why do we have such an urge to work more when applicable science indicates that less is actually a more efficient choice?  My personal view on this is that we are propelled in large part by the perpetually evolving electronic existence that cannot be ignored. Perhaps the most important challenge yet to be solved is:

Information is nonstop.

On a recent offshore fishing trip, I listened as my nephew, Jerr, made a comment after the boat reached cellular range on the return back to port. He shared that over 40 emails had been transmitted to his phone while offshore. His realization is typical to anyone who uses electronic communication devices. We have adopted the habit of first looking for recent emails and texts, and are not surprised by the volume awaiting our attention. Instead, we accept the reality of the constant flow of information.  

The volume of unread messages is always waiting for our review. They never disappear.  If we adopted a completely inconceivable 40-hour week, it would never be enough to reduce the constant flow of information heading our way.  From the depths of my inner thoughts, I sigh, “I am just going to get further behind!”

Information is nonstop.

What is the solution? Perhaps, some of the remaining suggestions on Cammi Pham’s list may help:

  • Don’t say yes too often;
  • Stop doing everything yourself and start letting people help you;
  • Stop being a perfectionist;
  • Stop doing repetitive tasks and start automating; and
  • Stop working, and take some time to do nothing at all

A separate newsletter edition could be employed to address any of the items on Pham’s list. Her article will take 11 minutes to read. Adoption of any of her suggestions may be worth the time investment.

Is it possible that more is less? Our grandparents would love this conversation. They would fit right in.

The key to success is not working hard. It’s working smart.

What one smart thing can I adopt today to be more successful?