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7 Reasons Why You Don’t Need To Work 24/7 To Be Successful

7 Reasons Why You Don’t Need To Work 24/7 To Be Successful
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Certain industries – startup tech companies, law firms and investment banks – are known for putting their staff through very long hours at work. These companies think nothing of asking their staff to work evenings and weekends, week after week. However, that doesn’t have to be you!

Discover seven reasons why you can still be successful while working a reasonable work schedule:

1. Improve Decision Making By Working Fewer Hours

As you go through your work day, you are faced with many decisions. You may have to decide between two suppliers. Or you may have to decide which person to hire. If you are tired from working constantly, you are more likely to make mistakes or low quality decisions. The New York Times reported that decision fatigue is one reason why people make unhealthy decisions at home and at work.

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By working fewer hours, you will be able to make better use of your limited decision making energy.

2. Produce More Creative Solutions By Avoiding Excessive Work

Today’s workplace is filled with new problems that nobody has ever faced before. You may be working on a complex sale to a large company. Or you may be working to eliminate bugs in a software product. Your ability to produce creative solutions is vital. If you’re exhausted, research shows you are less likely to come up with creative ideas. Rebecca J. Rosen at The Atlantic has found that stress and exhaustion from overwork makes it more difficult to achieve success in the knowledge economy.

Take a page out of Europe’s playbook and set a limit on your working hours, especially if your job requires creative approaches.

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3. Reduce Conflict By Slowing Down

Rushing to conclusions during a conflict or difference of opinion tends to make conflict worse. When you rush through meetings and work conversations, you are likely to hurt relationships. According to Psychology Today, slowing down a conversation is one of the advanced techniques that hostage negotiators use to solve high stress situations.

To improve your performance during conflicts, go slow and learn from the FBI’s hostage negotiators.

4. Improve Focus By Taking Time To Exercise

Mental clarity and freshness is essential to success when you are working with complex problems. According to research from The University of Texas at Dallas, aerobic exercise such as running improves your memory. Remembering tasks, procedures and other aspects of your work is essential to reaching success. If you’re working all the time, you will have no time for exercise.

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To add time for exercise into your daily routine, start a morning ritual. Get started with productivity expert Jeff Sanders’s mornings 101 series.

5. Understand When You Work Best And Do Your Hardest Tasks Then

Most people have varying energy levels during the day. For example, author and coach Hal Elrod wakes up before 5am and completes most of his work by 12pm. If you ignore those rule and attempt to complete challenging tasks when you are tired, you will be more likely to make mistakes.

Think back over the past five work days and determine when you had the highest energy levels. If you are a morning person, then get your most important tasks done then.

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6. Build Your Home Support System To Stay Productive

In order to stay productive, you need a supportive home environment. For many people, that means spending quality time with loved ones including your spouse. Working occasional long hours is reasonable, but it is dangerous to make it a way of life. If you are distracted by frustrated people at home and a disorganized home, it will be much harder to focus.

Commit to leaving work by a set time each day (e.g. 5pm or 6pm) and communicate that time to people at home.

7. Give Yourself Short Breaks

Getting through a long work day of tasks can be stressful. Sometimes, an overwhelming amount of work causes us to procrastinate. Before long, half the morning (or worse!) is gone. Getting into this pattern is one of the reasons why people end up having to stay late at the office.

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If you are struggling to complete a task, work in short focused bursts and then take a break. Entrepreneur John Lee Dumas works in fifty three minute segments and then takes a short break.

Featured photo credit: Success/pascalmwiemers via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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