A longer post today.
After spending significant time giving ridiculous amounts of time and committment to work that not only exhaust and drain me, but did not bring me any closer to my goals, there was much to think on and share.
How is your productivity these days? Are you doing everything that you want to be doing? Are you seeing the success in the activities you are putting the most effort towards? Are you getting the expected results?
If you are- what are you doing right?
If you are not- what are you doing wrong?
Are you working too hard?
Yes, I asked if you are working too hard.
Here in the Western World we have the bizarre notion that success- however you define success to be- comes when one commits themselves to their dream or business by committing insane amounts of time to their work- 60, 70, 100 hours work weeks- while they deprive themselves of building necessary and meaningful relationships with their family and friends, pursuing hobbies and community services, eating well and taking care of their bodies.
It reminds me of the scene from the popular 90’s movie, “Baby Boom” starring Diane Keaton, a go-getter business woman determined to make it to the top. In a conversation leading to a potential promotion, her boss reminds her what she will have to give up to gain her coroporate aspirations- marriage, children, hobbies. Her life will need to be defined and consumed by her commitment to the job. The “tiger lady” as she is known as, quickly agrees enthusiastically.
That is so sad. (Thankfully, the Tiger Lady learns a few wonderful things about life, love & business!)
And unnecessary. And, it keeps many of us from making real attempts to achieve our goals. Getting to success appears to be too hard.
Studies show that we really do not work well in long shifts. In fact, the human brain works at its prime for a couple of hours a day, needing breaks of rest and energy.
This may sound ineffective for producing big projects, meet deadlines, create proposals and do other meaningful work. However, people who practice focused, concentrated work for short periods of time actually get more done.
They do have a secret they employ to help them get more done in less time.
In fact, there are two “secrets.”
Secret #1: Focus with laser-like precision on the task on hand.
Email is turned off; the phone is away and out of sight (and hearing distance). Other distractions are muted and put away. The preparation for the project has already been done and is ready to be of use.
Then, for the next 30-90 minutes, energy and effort is poured out on the task at hand. Maybe the task is writing proposals or sales letter. Perhaps you are creating a new painting or multimedia design, a logo or a photos shoot. A chapter of your book must be written or an outline put together. Phone calls to your list of contacts need to be made.
Secret #2: Work at your optimal time of the day.
Whenever you work on your task- and it should be an important, energy needed task (not preparation work or “autopilot” tasks), it should be done at the time where your energy is peaked.
If you routinely become drowsy around 1:30 every afternoon, that is not the time to do it! Pick a time where you are normally feeling alert, awake and energized.
Try it out. For the next week, block off intervals of 30-90 minutes each day and focus on accomplishing a specific, important, value driven project. At the end of the week, take an assessment and ask yourself:
Did I accomplish more this week?
How do I feel about what I accomplished?
If I employed this strategy every week, how would it change my business?
How can I tweak these practices to make them work better for me?
This is a mental discipline. It may take a bit of practice (like every form of discipline does) to get good at it, and then great at it! Don’t give up! Keep pushing yourself to focus more.
after working for a set time, leave your work and go home to your loved ones. Enjoy the weather. Enjoy some play time or a good meal. Tinker in the garden, the kitchen or with your kids. Take a walk.
Life is short. Make the most of it.
The cherry on top: by working hard and more efficiently, you will enjoy your work more and feel more purposeful and effective.
And you’ll start seeing goals achieved!