Sometimes people work so hard they don’t have time to take time off. I’ve been one of those people a few times before and it’s not fun!
But here’s one thing I’ve realised (albeit a little too slowly for my liking)… forcing yourself to take time out every day can make you orders of magnitude more productive in the long run. How? In 3 different ways:
1. Time out gives you perspective
This is important as it allows you to see what work actually needs to be done now and what can wait.
For example: got a product launch in 4 months? Then why start on the website that far in advance if it’s only going to take a week to build/ change? If you allow 4 months it’ll take 4 months mixed in with everything else and thus you’ll be working more hours on it ultimately spend more hours on your business that were otherwise avoidable.
In the past I have spent weeks working a disproportionate amount of time on tasks that actually didn’t require as much work as I thought, or worse, weren’t even that important!
2. Time out makes you more efficient
The dreaded burnout. Everyone has one from time to time. When you work yourself to the bone on a project until your brain turns to mush and you can’t seem to bring yourself to work properly for a week or two after.
Overworking in my opinion can be a bit of a false economy. Let’s do the maths:
Say you work 60 hour weeks instead of 40 hour. Thus gaining 20 hours of “productivity” each week. How many of these hours are you working at 100% efficiency and not losing focus or getting distracted due to lack of sleep? If you’re currently working 60 hours a week at 60% efficiency – caused by tiredness, distractions etc. – then you’d be better off working 40 hours at 90% and getting the same amount of work done. And you’d then have 20 hours extra a week to spend doing something else!
60 hours per week at 60% productivity = 60/100 x 60 = 36 productive hours per week
40 hours per week at 90% productivity = 40/100 x 90 = 36 productive hours per week
Additionally when the inevitable burnout comes after working long hours for weeks on-end you’re going to lose a huge chunk of those hours of extra work you accrued anyway, so ultimately what’s the point of overworking yourself?
3. Time out is good for you
Time out is great as it allows you to keep on top of the other things in life… it’s not all meant to be work after all!
Whether you use this time to exercise and stay healthy, learn new skills or simply spend more time with friends and family, keeping on top of your life outside of work gives you more energy and motivation to apply to your work and helps you see clearly what you’re working for.
This is all well and good but if you’ve been in the habit of working uber long hours day-in, day-out for months on end how on earth do you break this cycle for some much needed r&r?
Simple… treat your time off every day with the same discipline as your office work or meetings. Set a time at which you’ll drop everything each day and take a few hours off to do something else. Mark it in your calendar if you have to! Start small, say stopping half an hour early each day, and build up to something more significant slowly. This way you won’t feel the sudden shock of a drop in working hours which can sometimes make you feel like you’re “cheating” or “being lazy” if you’re used to overworking.
This is a routine I’ve been sticking to for a few months now and although it can be difficult at times it has done wonders for my productivity. I also have more time to exercise, cook (one of my favourite past times) and hang out with friend and family and I no longer feel overworked! Now when I’m setting meetings and telephone calls I ensure they fall within my new working day and not my old one.
So go on, give yourself some time out and let me know how you get on!