“Three working rules: find simplicity out of clutter; Find harmony out of discord; In the middle of the difficulty lies the possibility. “
“Just think”, as my old master used to say – in other words, reduce the whole thing to the simplest possible, back to the basic principles. “
Frank Lloyd Wright
The day-to-day work we do – at school, at work, or in a company – can easily become overwhelming, ineffective, and suck the energy and joy out of what you do.
So how can you work lighter and easier so you can get more of the really important things done in less time and with less stress?
Let me share 12 habits I’ve discovered over the years that will help me do just that.
1. Prepare your day the night before.
Pack your bag or suitcase. Pack the leftovers from your dinner in a container and put it in the refrigerator. Put your keys, wallet, etc. in a place where you can easily find them when you leave.
This preparation will help you have a less stressful morning.
2. Be 5-10 minutes early for appointments.
Your travel time will be a time of relaxation and refueling during the day. Instead of a time of stress and fear.
Plus, people tend to like when other people are on time.
3. Work on only one thing at a time.
It becomes easier to focus and do a good job.
And it does so in less time than trying to multitask (at least if you’re something like me).
4. Work in a cone of silence.
Before you start any work on this matter, shut down your e-mail and instant messaging programs.
Close the door to your office. Put your phone in silent mode and put it in a drawer.
If possible, shut down your internet connection. Or use an extension for your browser like StayFocusd.
5. Ask yourself questions about simplicity and focus on a regular basis throughout the day.
It’s easy to get lost during a normal work day.
To stay on track, or to come back to it if you get lost, use questions like:
- What is the most important thing I can do now?
- Will that bring me closer to my goal?
- Am I keeping things extremely simple right now?
6. Let your lunch break be a time to relax.
Eat slowly. Place the fork in between bites to make this easier. Eat consciously and enjoy every bite.
Having lunch this way can help you relax and relieve some of your stress in the middle of the work day.
It can also help you not overeat, as it takes your brain 20 minutes to register that you are full. By slowing down your eating, your brain can stop you before you overeat.
7. Spend 80% of your time focusing on a solution.
And only 20% of your time is spent on your topic, challenge or problem. Instead of doing it the other way around.
This makes it easier to live an easier, more action-packed life, rather than falling into an abyss of self-pity or stuck in a mental habit of perceived impotence.
8. Ask for help.
You don’t always have to go alone. You can ask for help.
You may not always understand, but you might also be surprised at how helpful and kind people can be to help you ease your burdens and solve a challenge.
Just don’t forget to do the same for them as best you can when they ask.
9. Just check your email once a day.
Frequently checking email or social media accounts during the day costs a lot of time and energy and can leave you distracted and stressed.
Instead, try to check and process all of these things only once a day. I do it at the end of my work day.
If that is not possible for you, then at least try to postpone it for a few hours. And put your morning energy and focus on your most important task of the day.
10. Write shorter emails.
Whenever possible, limit your emails to 1-5 sentences. You can also save some ready-made answers to frequently asked questions in a folder in your e-mail program.
This will help you spend less time and energy on your daily email processing.
11. Consciously set and maintain fixed boundaries between your work and your private time.
Set a fixed stopping time for your daily work (mine is 7am). Don’t work on weekends.
Be aware of your limits and you will have less stress and more energy and can focus on both a better job and a higher quality private life.
This is one of the most important and often overlooked habits in this article.
12. Be smart about the 3 foundations of energy.
By that I mean getting enough sleep, exercising a few times a week, and eating a healthy diet.
This may seem very obvious in theory. But in practice, it makes a huge difference to your optimism and self-talk, your energy levels, your ability to deal with stress and think clearly.