Want to get more done? Try working less. Seriously.
Wanna know a secret? Working more doesn’t mean we achieve more.
Yes, putting in the hours will always be an important ingredient of success. But grinding away 24/7, answering work emails in the middle of the night and attending to tasks even while away on vacation is not the answer. Sure, we all like to brag about how much we have to do — it’s the great American pastime — but the fact is that overwork burns us out, makes us prone to illness and leads to costly mistakes.
You know in your heart this is true. After all, the concept of a “day of rest” has been around for thousands of years, and for good reason. Humans just weren’t designed to work nonstop. Plus, giving our bodies and brains time to recuperate makes us smarter and sharper, as well as happier, more creative, more resilient and less prone to error.
An excellent way to get in on all this goodness is to dedicate a day to rest and relaxation. Sunday is traditional but choose any time you want. On that day, keep away from your phone. Resist the impulse to check emails and, if you do, don’t start responding to them. Schedule life stuff (grocery shopping, laundry, etc.) for other time slots during the week. Then plan a fun activity with family or friends, or just devote some quiet time to reflection.
You might be a little surprised at how difficult this seems at first. We’ve been conditioned to think of rest as our reward for getting everything done.
The problem, of course, is that we can never get “everything” done. No, the only way to get the regular breaks we need is to make them a true priority. No exceptions.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Sounds great, but my boss expects to be able to reach me at all times.” Try this: Suggest a six-week experiment wherein you are truly unavailable on one of your days “off.” Then evaluate the results together. Has all the work gotten done? Are company goals being achieved? Chances are the answer will be yes, because people who are rested are more productive.
Who knows, your boss may just decide to copy you.