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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

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.

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 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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