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Efficiency Experiment - Week 3. Take Away The Stress

It’s time for week 3 of project efficiency ninja, our continuing experiment to make James the most efficient business owner in the land. This week is a little different but I really believe it is important and will help with everything else we will cover.

Taking the Stress Out of Work

Stressed and worried people do not make efficient workers. They make mistakes, they repeatedly re-do things because they are not happy with them and they generally don’t communicate well with others. They will struggle to manage the ideal workflow, they won’t make good prioritisation decisions and actively avoid jobs they hate (regardless of their importance) to try and make life better.

And I don’t blame them. I would do exactly the same. No one should work in a state of permanent panic and anxiety. Everyone will do a better job and be 100% more efficient if we can take the stress out of their working lives. So that’s the aim of this week's challenge.

Always go to bed with the next day planned

This is my number one rule for taking the stress out of my life. It helps you relax in the evening and it enables me to sleep well.

Even if it means working an extra 15 minutes, always plan the following day. This could mean

  • Knowing the key jobs that HAVE to be done, so you ensure they get prioritised first

  • Tidying up the to-do list and scratching off what you know is not realistic

  • Clean up your inbox, so only new emails are unread when you arrive in the morning

If you get stuck, Make scrambled eggs

‘Yesterday’ is the most covered song of all time and for some the best example of Paul McCartney’s songwriting, but for months it was actually called ‘Scrambled Eggs’! This is because the tune came to Paul long before the lyrics and he and John Lennon had a philosophy of using working titles so you could crack on with other things and come back when they finally had the idea. For example, in the case of ‘Yesterday’ it was several months later on a drive to a villa in Portugal.

You need to take this approach to your working life. If you get stuck on something, move on to something else. It might be a good idea to use a placeholder like scrambled eggs and carry on with the rest of the project or maybe it’s sensible to pause the project entirely and come back when your mind is more attuned to the task.

Sitting around and struggling to complete something is grossly inefficient. You are blatantly not working as well as you can and not only do you improve efficiency by moving on to a different topic, you also get to clear your head and when you come back to the subject, you’ll be more prepared to push through the bottleneck.

Work smarter not harder. Mentally refreshed people work better

Ultimately, this week's topic is all about making you as mentally fresh as possible, because you will be better at your job and increase your efficiency. So have a real think about the following, all of which make you better prepared mentally for work.

  1. Take breaks. Critical in keeping you refreshed and your brain active. It’s good for your physical health as well. Ensure you finish a task before you leave it or at least get to a sensible point where you can drop back in - don’t add stress by worrying about where to start after a break!

  2. Get good sleep. The best way to be efficient is to start the day well. Waking up refreshed and mentally strong goes a long way to starting your day well

  3. Do something you enjoy. Often we just need a distraction, even for just a couple of minutes, to reset our minds. Might be reading, playing with the kids, building some Lego or even going for a run. Whatever works for you, use this to kickstart your day.

Ultimately, this is all about working smarter, not harder. You will find that people can work 30 minutes less but get more done!

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