How to work less and get more done!

– The more you work, the more you get done!

That is what people of my generation have been indoctrinated with from or teachers, parents and employers for generations!

A man (women should stay home in the kitchen, then) should work much, hard and long hours. Then he became an honorable man.

But is it really true that those who work hard and long hours get more done than those who don’t? Not in my opinion!

Here is why:

For years and years I have been working from early in the morning before the cat got his boots on, and long after midnight. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. Without getting through my to-do-list…

I did it because I thought it made me a man of honor. A hard worker that stood up for his family, making sure it was well cared for. I guess I was like many other men in my age. Going right into the trap, buying into all the myths about how a real man should be.

Three times I have met the wall – experiencing what many of us know as a burn out. Overworked, tired, stressed, irritable, head aches, back aches, stomach aches, depressed, fed up – you got it!

Result is that you have to stay away from work for months, you have to see a life coach, you have to see the doctor, you have to stay away from the computer, stay away from email and shut off your mobile phone. And your focus have to be on yourself!

Well, I have learned the lesson. And I hope I have learned it well. I have got new routines. And there are a lot of things that I have simply stopped doing!

Do things differently!

There are a lot of things you can do different. There are lots of books and articles on time management and getting things done. But there are few telling you what NOT to do!

Lifehack brings a great article by Anthony Chatfield where  he explains how he doubled his productivity. The article brings some practical tips that could help you achieve more in less time and with less work effort. The fun thing is that he has been doing the same things I have done.

Anthony explains how he analyzed his time usage during a day and found that he got less done those days when he had a lot of time. And that he got more done the days he was short of time.

He installed a program that works in the background on his Mac and tracks the time you spend on certain tasks.

The first week he worked 45 hours and was 73 % productive. When he later worked only 35 hours he still got everything done!

One of the things he realized was that he was using 12 hours a week reading email and watching YouTube. So he decided to turn off the computer one day a week and that gave him a good break and avoidance of brain and body fatigue.

Another tip that I use myself is to not have the received email alarm on, and restrict email working to two times a day. You could always be available on phone or chat.

One of my own tricks is to not respond to emails by sending an email. I rather respond by chat or phone. In that way I teach my collaborators that I prefer other communication channels than mail.

Email Nazi

I am what some call an «email nazi». I delete email without reading them. Well not all, but all those I by the senders name that I know have no interest to me. I also use IBM Notes 9.0 Social Edition as a client for my work mail. This client has a lot of integrated social tools like chat, phone, file sharing, activities and even plugins that let me communicate with both Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and WordPress.

And the email I receive are marked with a blue dot if it is addressed only to me, a half blue dot if it is sent to me and four others, and an empty dot if it is sent to more than five addresses.

I sort by the dots and read the blue ones first. Then I read the half blue dotted mails. The rest I delete. Unread.

And I do not read email until I have done the five most important tasks on my to-do-list. That could be after lunch sometimes. When I have done what I have decided to do – then I am ready for new inputs and tasks.


Anthony Chatfield also proposes that one should get a good GTD-application. He is using Omnifocus. Myself I have been using them all, Things and Omnifocus included. To me Things is too light and Omnifocus too complex and old fashioned. Things has a good user interface while Omnifocus has a user interface that really stinks.

So for the time being I am using 2Do and sync it via Dropbox to all my other devices (iMac, MacBook Air, iPhone5 and iPad Mini). It is complex and simple enough for me.

Every friday I use one hour for my weekly review where I update, review and plan: Calendar, Mailbox, Evernote, 2Do and all internal reporting systems (and they are many).

That way I am always on top of everything and not using all my efforts being a fire fighter.

Anthony Chatfield also propose to set aside some time for monthly reviewing and thinking of the big views. And just like me he use some time every friday to organize and plan.

It is only up to You wether you will work yourself to death or get more things done with less work and less stress.

Don’t think about it. Do it!





  1. Great input and points from you, Arne. You have learned the hard way.. Thanks for sharing! Many people run faster and faster at a treadmill without moving at all.. The new, smarter ways of collaborating with clients, colleagues and the world will certainly help to be more effective and save time – and are great fun too. One technique I have been using when walking through my activity list in the morning is to ask myself what is really business critical? If I do not do activity X, what is the worst that will happen? Looking forward to discuss this more when we meet for lunch soon :-). Have a wonderful and relaxing Saturday!


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