Why Working Less Will Let You Get More Done

The key to get more done isn’t to slave away for 10 hours a day, it’s to work smarter instead of harder. Working less is one way to working smarter, and here’s why. 

The Simple Law That Can Revolutionize the Way You Work 

In school I often procrastinated until the deadline was 45 minutes away. I panicked, worked like a machine and miraculously finished it in time.

I experienced Parkinson’s Law: that work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

If you have a deadline, you’ll almost always meet it. Parkinson’s Law works because it forces you to bring more energy, motivation and focus to your work. If you’re close to a deadline, you’ll become a working machine. But if you have all the time in the world, you’ll constantly check Facebook, watch YouTube and do easy work.

If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute – Cyril Northcote Parkinson 

Limiting the time you work also forces you to focus on your most important tasks. You would be able to fill a 120 hour week with work, because there’s always an infinite amount of things you could be doing. But that doesn’t mean you should. 

How Many Hours a Week Should You Work? 

Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work, said that if you study world-class performers in a lot of different fields, none of them practice more than 4 hours a day. The conclusion? Most people can’t sustain more than 4 hours of intense concentration a day.

All other hours of focus are much less productive. In most work the amount of focus and energy spent is just as important as the time put in. 

Studies has shown people are the most productive while working 35 hour weeks. While 60-hour weeks increase your productivity in the short run, after a few weeks you’ll be too fatigued and stressed to do anything efficiently. You have to make room to recharge.

Researchers concluded that “at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks.” Another study found that productivity “falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those 15 extra hours.”

The Key for Taking Advantage of Working Less 

Track how much you’re working.

If your goal is to spend 35 hours a week, stop when you’ve tracked 35 focused hours. The daily limit could be 4 hours, or to never work after noon. The time tracking software I use is Toggl.

That’s it. Working less makes you more productive by creating a deadline, making you focus on your most important things and letting you recharge. Start tracking your work now, and have a great day! 

Elias Edgren is a writer, productivity geek and addicted to music. Do you want to get more done? How convenient: he has written a free “Cheat Sheet for Extreme Productivity“.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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