Work Smarter, Not 24/7

Danny Wong, marketing guru for Blank Label, a custom men's dress shirt company, has found an innovative way to cut down on the thicket of superfluous communication crowding his inbox: if he wants to talk to another member of his virtual team, he picks up the phone.

"E-mail trails have slow turnaround," said the Wellesley, Mass. resident. Besides, he said, "There are always more questions" -- something that can quickly be remedied by having an actual conversation.

Florian Becker, a director at a large software company in Ft. Lauderdale, concurs.

"Most of the e-mails that go around are not that important," said Becker, who, since losing part of his team to layoffs last year, has been looking for ways to streamline his workload.

"I tell people, 'If you really need my response, pick up the phone and call me,'" Becker said. "This is working remarkably well."

By shunning his inbox for big chunks of the workday, he's able to get more concrete work done.

Otherwise, he said, "You're really reactive and you go home and don't even know what you did all day."

Give Yourself an Endorphin Rush

For Kindra Hall, a sales executive at a marketing company in Phoenix, adjusting her personal routine was the key to squeezing more juice out of the workday.

On top of her demanding day job, Hall has been trying to get a side business off the ground while still making time for her husband and friends. A year ago she would have described herself as "stressed beyond my capacity" and "desperate for more time."

Then, despite not being an early riser, she started hitting the gym at 5:30 a.m. instead of kidding herself that she would go after work ("It rarely happened," she said).

Now, Hall said, "I have noticeably more energy." As a result, she's able to devote two extra "alert, productive" hours a day to her storytelling business.

As a bonus, Hall arrives at her day job each morning feeling "much more pleasant."

"I have a much better attitude," she said.

Guard Your Downtime Like a Rabid Dog

Those who dispense career advice are fond of telling disgruntled workers to take on a gratifying side project or two, be it volunteering, enrolling in a class or cultivating a new hobby (guilty as charged).

But as psychologist Susan Fletcher points out, sometimes what we mangled minions need most is to pull back from our commitments outside work.

"Be selfish with your yeses," said Fletcher, the author of "Working in the Smart Zone: Smart Strategies to Be a Top Performer at Work and at Home."

"You may love volunteering, coaching your kids' sports and being a Boy Scout leader," she explained, "but when you are stressed at work you need to simplify other aspects of your life."

Suffice it to say this year deserves a better motto than "do more with less." I nominate "just do less."

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist and former cubicle dweller. She is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube". For more information, see

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