Hey there Rainmaker, want to be more productive?
If you’re not productive, you probably fall into one of two camps.
Either you work all the time, or you procrastinate all the time.
And the truth is, BOTH are huge signs you’re probably getting less done than you could be.
I saw a study recently of the “ideal work week.” That is, what’s the best length of a work week for you to have maximum productivity.
HINT: Working more does not equal getting more work done.
In fact, working much more than about 36 hours per week actually leads to a DECREASE in your productivity.
That’s right, you get less done, the more you work beyond 36 hours!
The study didn’t say why, but I have an idea. I think it’s because people who work a lot don’t work smart.
First off, they take on all the little tasks that are “activity masquerading as accomplishment.” Things that you can do to make it look like you’re getting things done… When really, you’re not!
When they make long hours the point, they find ways to fill long hours. Contrast that to someone who makes short hours the point, who has to look at what the biggest impact activities are and just get them done.
Secondly, working a lot is exhausting. If you “give it your all” for 60 hours per week, you’re never going to feel rested. And your best thinking and your best work will only come when you have a healthy energy to get work done.
There’s also a similar fall-off below 36 hours — with the optimal “productive week” falling between 32 and 40 hours of work. Too few hours, and it’s hard to put in the time you need even for important tasks.
That said, all 36 hours don’t need to be spent working super-hard. Because even that is too much.
The best productivity comes in time-blocks…
Legendary copywriter and direct marketing demi-god Eugene Schwartz famously set a kitchen timer for 33 minutes and 33 seconds, and would write while the timer was going. When the timer went off, he’d stop, and do something else for 5 minutes. Even if he was in the middle of a sentence, he’d stop.
Then, he’d set it again.
5 or 6 of these time blocks and he would have been more productive by noon than most people are in a week.
Every day, he’d schedule these time blocks into his day. And he’d also schedule time to research, read, and do other things that he needed to make these writing blocks maximally productive.
He would also do things that many more novice writers (and others!) think will screw up their productivity.
Schwartz was into all sorts of things. He was a biblical scholar. An art collector. A member of New York’s “high society.” And more…
And he’d build these things into his schedule, like many others build even more work time.
If you don’t build play into your schedule, your work will suffer…
Maybe you’ve heard, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”
Or… “Work hard, play hard.”
Both are true.
I’ve grown to prefer another version of the second. “Play hard to work hard.”
“Work hard, play hard,” sounds like a motto of excess and debauchery (probably because many have used it as that excuse). But my version, “Play hard to work hard,” actually gives a formula by which you benefit from play.
Today, in part based on my wife and I’s work schedules, and in part based on choice, I spent the first two hours of the work day playing with my kids. I then took a half-hour bike ride, and showered after.
This was all before starting my day.
And then, I sat down and was highly-productive.
I may also check out early, or at the very least release myself from more work, and turn my office into a home studio and make music for the last hour of the day.
Choosing to do this is not the classic “procrastination…”
Scheduling play time is not procrastination. At least not in the traditional sense.
It’s controlling your schedule and making sure you build in renewal time, on top of work time.
And doing this — treating yourself well — leads to even greater productivity when you turn around and choose to work.
How you choose to play? Well, that’s up to you. What it should NOT be is anything directly related to any current projects or work you’re doing.
Maybe reading a work-related book (but again, not one directly related to current work). Maybe playing music. Maybe doing crafts. Maybe going for a walk, or hike, or bike ride.
There are a lot of ways we can “play.”
The key is to give your brain time to set your work off to the side.
A funny thing happens during this play time…
If you’re serious about the “Play hard to work hard” idea, you still take getting things done seriously. (You wouldn’t be reading this email if not!)
And what will happen is that your subconscious mind won’t totally put work aside while you’re playing.
In fact, your subconscious is likely to be very active during this time.
And you’ll be surprised when you give yourself the space, what kind of work breakthroughs and epiphanies come when you’re deliberately NOT focused on work — when you’re playing.
Quick bit of business before I sign off for the weekend…
Speaking of playing, Monday is Memorial Day here in the US, and my wife’s birthday. So I’m definitely not working — in fact, I’ll be playing!
(Unfortunately it’s supposed to be cooler and rainy here in Nebraska, so our pool membership will likely go unused for at least this first weekend it’s supposed to be open.)
What that means for you is that there will be no Breakthrough Marketing Secrets on Monday…
So I’ll talk to you again Tuesday.
Have a safe and happy weekend, enjoy some time away from work, and come back next week even more productive.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets