Just How Hard Should I Work?
What kind of decisions do we make around time spent at work Too often we forget to be mindful about how we are spending our time and how our minds need rest to be effective. When I ran my ad agency, I was so compulsive that I would take work home and work on proposals often while watching television to stay current on the commercials. In a way I felt like I was getting ahead. Also it helped me to relax. When I looked at the quality of the ideas and work the next morning it was frequently dull and unimaginative: that three hours spent in the evening I could have covered the following morning in twenty minutes with much better results.
I also found that I would go to the office on Saturday thinking that the time there would somehow propel me further along. Rarely did I really accomplish anything. Often I would scan magazines or make calls to friends which I could have easily have done at home.
Then I found that too frequently I was scheduling meetings in the morning when my brain was freshest and should have been tackling critical thinking and proposals leaving the meetings for the afternoon when I could have been just as effective on less brainpower.
So what’s my point?
Use your brain when it is the freshest. Save meetings for later in the day when you can still be effective but you not trying to necessarily create.
I was not giving myself a chance to recharge. I was being propelled by nervous energy feeling I was being more effective by putting in longer hours.
Later I found that it was the rest and relaxation that made me more productive. I ran across this article by Tony Schwartz entitled, Working Harder Doesn’t Get You Ahead. He was echoing my same sentiments.
I eventually found that what I wanted to do was tell myself I needed solutions and then get on with other tasks. My subconscious would go to work on these ideas and deliver answers frequently at the oddest times, while driving, showering, jogging or walking down the street. I think part of our challenge is that we often develop the fixation that if we are at our desk we are where we are supposed to be to be effective and if we want to be more effective we put in the longer hours at home. I maintain while there is a correlation between time dedicated to work and results but the real question is could I have gotten the same results by using my time better.
So it isn’t how hard we work it is the decision we make on how mindful we work. Telling ourselves we want to be freshest for the most difficult tasks and then tackling the least important tasks when our minds are in the wind down mode gets us much further down the road.
I would love to hear about your experience regarding this.
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