Get More Done By Working Less
There's a shift happening in our work culture - can you feel it? People are questioning the 40+ hours a week / 8+ hours a day model. 40 hours has always been expected of us - more is better, less is lazy. But where did this come from and why do we just accept it?
The 5-days-a-week-8-hours-a-day rose out of the Industrial Revolution, when workers were typically working 10 - 12 hour days, 6 days a week. The 8 hour day was put into place in 1916 and the 40 hour work week came along in 1937. This was a huge victory that we fought long and hard for. Only recently have we paused to reevaluate.
When I was a brand spankin' new business owner full of passion, ideas, and the ever-present gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach like oh dear I really have to make this thing work, it was difficult for me to reign in my work/life balance.
I'm assuming you are familiar with this issue?
I would set "office hours", but that didn't stop the thoughts from creeping in on the weekends and after dinner. I spent a lot of my "free time" checking email, writing down ideas, checking email again, posting to social media, responding to an email, checking my other email, etc etc etc. I was doing a lot - but I wasn't getting much done.
My brain started to get a little melty. Things were getting fuzzy, I was losing focus, my motivations blurred. It was happening so slowly I didn't feel like I was burning out. Just moving... slower. I found myself checking Facebook more and more. Turns out, if you don't take an intentional and restorative break - your brain tries to take one anyway.
This is not a new problem. We all struggle with this all the time.
Don't check your phone or email first thing in the morning. Let your first thoughts be yours. Keep your phone in another room and wake up with an old fashioned alarm. Do something nourishing first thing. Meditate, make a cup of coffee, exercise, or journal. You can check social media after you are centered and grounded for the day. There is no need to look at a screen for the first hour after you wake up.
Take a lunch break. For real. Don't eat at your desk. Don't look at your phone. If you have the flexibility and time, take an entire siesta. Take a nap! Your brain is going to slow way down until about 3 or 4pm anyways.
You get where this is going. Your evenings are a time to wind down.
Inspired by An Oasis in Time: How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life by Marilyn Paul, I take an entire day off every week. All-the-way-off. On Sunday morning I wake up at 5 or 6am and take care of anything that needs to be taken care of. Then I turn off my phone and laptop and head to 7am yoga. This part is important and non-negotiable: I don't turn my screens back on until Monday morning. My family knows to call my partner if there is an emergency. My friends know to make plans ahead of time or just stop by if they want to see me. If I am meeting someone somewhere and get lost, I need to ask for directions. I spend the day meditating, reading in the park, baking bread, walking to a coffee shop with my partner, doing a puzzle, anything that isn't productive. Sometimes I put on a record, sit on the couch, and just kind of zone out.
Taking an entire day off was weird and difficult to get used to, but now I am addicted. This restorative day transforms the rest of my week. I feel more at ease on Monday. I feel a stark difference between being "busy" and being "productive".
Setting these boundaries with your time will make you happier and better at your job. You will be surprised how much more you get done when you start doing less.