Work Less and Be More Productive – Myth or Reality?

It seems counterintuitive to suggest that working less will allow you to be more productive. These two ideas feel like they are in direct opposition to each other.  It’s like suggesting that two wheels can turn in opposite directions and still move you forward.  That is just not possible, is it?  The startling but emphatic answer is, “They most certainly can.  In fact, it happens all the time.”

cogsWe rely on our logic to help us solve problems and make good decisions, but sometimes the right answer is simply illogical. The working out of two seemingly opposing forces is perfectly illustrated in the simplicity of cogs in a watch.  One cog rotates one way, the other cog rotates the opposite way, and yet, they are working in synchronized harmony to accomplish the desired results.  This same philosophy can be implemented in your own life to the benefit of your health, your loved ones and your career.

An Explosive Work Life

Author, speaker, and CEO, Michael Hyatt, spoke at Leadercast 2018 about the importance of limiting your work life for the purpose of self-care.  He plainly stated “Working 80 hours a week is ambitious but explosive.”  Maybe you’ve experienced one – or many – of these ‘explosive’ times in your own life.  Your phone and inbox constantly ‘blow up’ with all the demands of your job and then you go home and ‘blow up’ at the people who are closest to you.  You may quickly excuse away the first explosion as part of the job.  The other explosion is a negative byproduct of all the stress you’re taking on.  Both are unhealthy.

If you don’t set boundaries in your work life, it could very well run you to the ground.  You can’t be productive if you’re in the hospital because of a heart attack.  You can’t be productive if you’re so sleep deprived you can’t think straight.  You can’t be productive if all the details of your numerous projects are converging into a giant, tangled mess in your brain.  Simply put, you must rest to be your best. Self-care is essential for optimal productivity.

3 Career-Enhancing Benefits of Self-Care from Michael Hyatt

During Michael Hyatt’s presentation, he went on to explain three career enhancing benefits of making self-care a priority.  At first glance, they all seem contradictory, but just like the cogs of a watch, when you look closer, it makes complete sense.

  1. Self-care gives you energy.
  2. Self-care gives you an edge.
  3. Self-care gives you endurance.

Self-care gives you energy

There is absolutely nothing we can do to add hours to our day.  Everyone has a fixed amount of time.  However, there is a lot we can do to add energy to our day.  Energy can flex and you can be sharper, more energized and productive.

The time you spend taking care of yourself, whether it’s relaxing, exercising, eating healthy, sleeping etc., doesn’t take away from your productivity, it gives energy to it.  If you’re not performing at the top of your game because of stress and work overload, your time would be better spent re-energizing rather than floundering through your days.

Self-care gives you an edge

Many may argue that self-care is indulgent.  There is definitely validation to that if you swing to the opposite extreme and decide work is too much trouble and life is all about preserving and entertaining yourself.  But I doubt that’s the typical person reading this article.  Most likely, you are of the mindset that any time you spend away from work and work-related functions is time you are missing opportunities to get ahead…or simply catch up.

Self-care fuels confidence and increases the belief that you can accomplish difficult tasks.  When you are well rested, physically and mentally, you are more likely to engage in challenging and competitive tasks.  Your brain is sharper and your thinking is clearer.  It’s the right formula for hitting your goals.

Self-care gives you endurance

We all wear many different hats.  Besides being an employee, many of us are bosses, spouses, parents, sisters, sons, neighbors, community leaders etc.  You don’t want your success to be one-dimensional.  If you are winning at work but failing in all your other roles, that’s really no success at all.  You need the endurance that comes from self-care to do well in each role.

Likewise, you don’t want momentary success that burns out like a birthday candle.  Sustained success can only be achieved by implementing self-care into your schedule.

What does self-care look like?

Self-care is a commitment.  Our flesh will tell us it’s ridiculous to spend our time doing things that appear so unproductive.  When you are being sucked back into the jet stream of extreme work life, remember the cogs.  A little wheel, turning in the opposite direction, can be what you need to reach your dreams.  Here are some things to try:

  • Go to bed.  Shoot for 8 hours of sleep.
  • Set hard boundaries for your weekends and evenings.
  • Exercise – at least 30 minutes of heart-elevating exercise, 3 times a week.
  • Limit the time you spend on your phone or computer.
  • Drink water
  • Spend time relaxing and laughing with your friends and family. “Laughter is the best medicine.”
  • Be thankful – a positive outlook improves every aspect of your life.
  • Find a hobby and enjoy something new.
  • What do you suggest?

Despite what seems logical, working more and more hours will not increase your productivity.  Make time for self-care.  Your health is important to more than just yourself.  Your wellness is critical to your employer, your spouse, your kids and all your other relationships.  Accept the fact that sometimes the best thing for moving forward is having an unwind cog in your life.

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