5 Zen Methods That Will Help You Work Less and Achieve More

  •    TJ runs Refine Digital, a content marketing firm that helps technology executives share their expertise.

Research shows that exercise and sleep are the keys to getting more done. Seriously. Sounds counter-intuitive, but data speaks for itself. Productivity in the U.S. is at an all-time low. Many experts believe it is because we are drained, physically and intellectually, also known as “burnt out."

A 2016 workshop offered at the Harvard Medical School, “Now and Zen: How mindfulness can change your brain and improve your health," points to a variety of methods where nurturing and caring for one's brain can lead to improved health, and by extension, to higher business productivity.

Here are five Zen-inspired methods you can adopt from research, to help you achieve new levels of business productivity and success.

Prioritize Tasks

Leo Babauta, author of the Zen Habits blog, believes that small-business owners, as well as people in general, can successfully balance work and life. He says to state the three most important things that you want to get done each day. Drop the long list — you probably won't get it done by the end of the day, anyway. A simple list of three things can be empowering. Pick tasks that will make you feel like you've accomplished something when they're done.

Forget Multi-Tasking; Single-Tasking Is The New Black

A study reported by the BBC claims that workers addicted to e-mail and phone calls suffer an IQ drop worse than marijuana users. In a Harvard Business Review article, “How and Why to Stop Multitasking" author Peter Bregman cites a study where “infomania is worse than marijuana." So, drop the multi-tasking and try what has worked for the most successful: Single Tasking. Stay focused on one important task at a time.

Inbox Zero: Keep Your E-Mail Inbox Empty

Get your email inbox to zero and you will feel better and be able to focus on what truly matters.

This can be a huge challenge if you live in your inbox. If the messages just keep piling up, what should you do? Creating folders, filters and labels might work, but the Getting Things Done (GTD) system regarding email is to clear out your email inbox on a daily basis. The biggest tip is to avoid e-mail first thing in the morning. It is a black hole that will suck you in and consume your most productive time.

Avoid Social Media, Or Better, Any Media

The latest news from Facebook is that they recognize that their platform is addictive. No surprise. Social media can be valuable as a marketing tool, but it is also another these black holes that can suck you into a zone where you get very little valuable work done.

Many health and productivity experts suggest you try a Media Fast where you limit your overall media consumption. The recent documentary movie Screenagers, while focused on screen addiction for teenagers, also comments heavily on how parents (and many small business owners are also parents) are suffering addiction, too.

Work Fewer Hours

By reducing the number of hours in your workday, you will force yourself into high production mode for those limited hours. As an alternative, you can transition to a four-day workweek, but stick with an 8 to 10 hour day to get those 40 hours, if you must have 40, over a shorter duration.

In order to avoid burnout and turn your business into a success, take a Zen approach to get more done. Being mindful is at the core of each of these methods — it can take you to new levels of business productivity and success.