How to Use Time Productively in the Knowledge Economy
The saying used to be that “time is money,” with the belief that putting in more time would guarantee good results. However, the 10,000 hour theory, which puts forward that mastery requires 10,000 hours of repetition, has been debunked by many. Time and success have less to do with each other than how much attention is given to receiving and applying information. Productivity is more about managing energy and attention than time.
The History of Time
In the agricultural economy, time management wasn’t so important. However, the Industrial Revolution shifted more people to factories where time had to be tracked. The development of the 40-hour workweek made time a commodity, directly tied to hourly wages.
Today’s Knowledge Economy places less emphasis on time and more on the amount of knowledge a worker can acquire and transform. Despite this shift, many management approaches remain fixated on seat time, or seeing employees physically present in the office.
Manage Energy and Attention, Not Time
Energy and attention are the most important factors for productivity. A nine-to-five workday doesn’t make sense when productivity is about what is accomplished, not how much is produced. Different people work best at different times, have different levels of energy and focus, and are bombarded by different distractions.
When scheduling time, it is essential to consider how much energy and attention will be available throughout the day and what needs to be accomplished. Managing time is important only when these factors are understood, making time a backdrop against which a task can be accomplished.
How to Work Less and Get More
Flexible work hours should be taken advantage of. Rest is crucial for maximum performance. During the day, short breaks should be taken to disconnect. The optimal human ratio for work is 52 minutes on, 17 minutes off. Scheduling the day can greatly increase productivity, but only after accounting for the amount of energy and focus available and what needs to be accomplished.
“Focus days” can be used to delve into big projects and new learning without the distraction of meetings. The goal of the Knowledge Economy is different from the goal of the Industrial Economy. Therefore, productivity should be the main focus, not a set amount of time.
In conclusion, managing energy and attention is more important than managing time. People are different and understanding individual levels of energy and focus is necessary for maximum productivity. By using productivity strategies that focus on energy and attention rather than time, people can work less and achieve more.