Most people who work eight-hour per day are guilty of not properly scheduling and utilizing your day. For some people, it’s as bad as they only take their break to use the restroom or grab lunch. Interestingly, fact indicates that our brains can only stay focused for about 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break. Therefore all we achieve for the rest of hours we sit is to get stressed and tired. For the rest of the hours we sit at our desks, we’re not really making the most of our time in the office. We are just successfully mismanaging our work hours. Working 9am – 5pm is the way many of us make a living. Yet it’s obvious to most that working longer doesn’t increase productivity.
Let’s quickly review how the 8-hour work hour started, working eight hours a day started in 1926, when Henry Ford implemented the reformist Robert Owen’s campaign for an eight (8) hour working day. Robert Owen’s campaign for reform was under the slogan:
“Eight hours labor,
Eight hours recreation,
Eight hours rest.”
Within two years of implementing the 8-hour work day and doubling pay, Ford upped productivity and doubled profit margins within 2 years.
As much as the 8-hour work day was successful at Ford, we have to note that this is the 21st century, the 8 hour work day doesn’t fit with modern lifestyles and working practices. Technology has taken over all the manual jobs. We shouldn’t confuse busyness for productivity. To make the most of your day you have to schedule your 8-hour work day.
None of us has so much time and not enough to do with it. We start everyday knowing that we’re not going to get it all done. How we spend our time is a key strategic decision. That’s why it’s a good idea to create a to-do-list and an ignore list.
Even the lists are made handicapped by us, the list can’t execute itself. It requires execution. How do you stick to your plan when so many things threaten to be time wasters? How do you focus on important things when so many things need your attention. Here’s how you need to schedule your 8-hour work day.
- Rise up Early
Laura Vanderkam studied the schedules of high achievers and she observed that almost all of them have a morning ritual. Studies show early risers achieve more during the day, You need to rise up from your bed early, before the whole work insanity starts, before demands are mad on you, before traffic sets in, before your goal faces its competition. Managing our time needs to become a ritual too. Not simply a list or vague sense of priorities that is not consistent. It needs to be strictly adhered to, that no matter what you will focus on your priorities throughout the day.
- Follow Havard Business Review’s Three Step
Havard Business review highlighted three (3) steps to plan one’s day. These steps take less than 18 minutes out of your 8 hour workday.
Step 1: Set Plan for the day (5 minutes)
Before turning on your computer, take a deep breath, sit down and write on a blank piece of paper what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish this day that would make you feel successful and productive?
- Write those things down
- Allot them into time slots on your calendar (placing the hardest and most important at the beginning of your day, before checking your mailbox)
- If your list doesn’t fit into the calendar then you should re-prioritize.
There’s a tremendous power in writing ‘when’ and ‘where’ you are going to do something. Whenever such information is clearly stated it helps you set a target that you are willing to achieve.
Step 2: Refocus (one minute every hour)
Set your watch and time to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath look at you list and sincerely ask yourself if you have spent your last hour productively. Then look at the calendar and deliberately recommit how you are going to spend the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour; don’t let the hours manage you.
Step 3: Review (5 minutes)
Shut down your computer and review your day. What worked/ where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that would help you be more productive tomorrow?
The power of rituals is their predictability. You can do the same things over and over again. The outcome of rituals is predictable too. If you choose to focus deliberately, wisely and consistently then the result would be maximally optimizing your time.