Too often I see advice bandied around to the tune of “work now, rest later” or in it’s absolute harshest written form, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.
The idea behind this advice is that every project needs an initial amount of oomph – extra energy put in to get it started and moving. It’s actually a part of a well known project management technique; rather than putting a consistent amount of energy in all the time, you create repeatable cycles or efforts that are limited in time.
The trouble comes, when people take this method out of context. Remove the boundaries around the sprint and that extra oomph becomes required all the time.
But, you cannot sprint all the time. (ask Usain if you don’t believe me)
Just like if you were running, you will begin to tire. As you tire, you slow down. Your technique gets poorer, your steps are less effective.
When I speak to my clients I ask them about their work routine; what does a typical day look like for them.
Almost all of them have previously told me that they have too much to do and not enough time so we start by analysing their time and their workload.
Do you want to know a secret?
9 times out of 10 they have too much time and not enough to do.
But how can that be?
Their to-do list is never ending, they aren’t making progress and there are so many tasks still to be ticked off.
So they tell themselves that they need to sit at their desk until they tick something off. They deny themselves the things that bring them pleasure; they cannot reward themselves with relaxation unless they deserve it, and they cannot deserve it if they have not finished their work.
They chain themselves to their computer and they are working HARD. They are very rarely working SMART though.
They are attempting to sprint a marathon.
This is not the freedom you were seeking when you started your business.
The answer I give to all my clients seems counter-intuitive; I tell them to limit their working hours and make plans in their time off. Whether that is a netflix series to watch, getting outside, doing exercise, going to the cinema, doing craft… whatever makes them happy and relaxed. Something that refuels them.
It means that the time they then have at their desk is shorter; they have less time to procrastinate which helps them to focus in on tasks.
Parkinson’s Law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” So the longer you give yourself to complete a task, the longer it will take. Make that box smaller and the task will shrink to fit.
More importantly, because they are well rested, refreshed and HAPPY, they are simply quicker, more efficient and more effective at their work. It is a virtuous cycle instead of a vicious one.
Why don’t you try it out for yourself and let me know how you get on?