I generally work only about 20 hours per week. I spend about 35 in the office, but only about 20 doing the actual work that I’m paid for. And yet, I’m highly successful at outperforming my peers. My bandwidth is significantly higher, and every boss I’ve had over the past 11 years of my engineering career has consistently complimented my “bandwidth.”
The reason I’m saying this is not to brag about my abilities, work ethic, or intelligence. I don’t consider any of those 3 things as superior to my peers. In fact, I often feel the opposite. The reason I brought this up is to share my secret.
It’s simply the Pareto Principle. 80% of events come from 20% of the causes. In the corporate working world, it’s simply a matter of prioritizing the important 20% and leaving behind the other 80%.
An average employee does 100% of the work, and achieves 100% of the effect (job complete). But I will only do the most important 20%, achieving 80% of the work complete. I then hand the work off to someone else (if the final 20% of work is important – often it is not). By doing this, I am then able to take on a second task. Then third task, and forth, and fifth.
By doing 20% times 5 tasks, I spend 100% of my time. But the achieved effects are 80% times 5 tasks = 400%. Depending on how you look at it, that’s 4 to 5 times the performance as compared to the average employee who completes all of his or her tasks. 4 times if you think purely in effects, but to most people they will simply see that you are balancing 5 projects as compared to your peers 1 project.
In actuality, I choose to use this trick to reduce my time working. As mentioned earlier, I only work 20 hours per week. The rest of my time in the office is spent entertaining myself, learning new skills, and writing posts like this. Over time, I’m planning to “work from home” more, where I can continue to perform well, but have more leisure time. The morality of this approach is sound, given that I work on salary and not hourly, and I’m performing at the level that I’m paid for. The fact is that I won’t be paid 4 times as much if I accomplish 4 times my peers, so I have no moral obligation to do this.
This also works in other areas of life. Romance with your wife, quality time with your kids, skill improvements, etc.