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When To Throw In The Towel Or When To Persevere

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When To Throw In The Towel Or When To Persevere

It goes without saying that persistence is the most distinguishable and important characteristic of a successful person and most definitely a successful entrepreneur. Lack of creativity can be overcome with persistence and hard work. (Interestingly, while a person may not be terribly imaginative, persistence always helps the imagination to figure it out.) Lack of money can be overcome using the same formula.

Why? You need the persistence to get you through the rough patches and over the mountains that will inevitably be in your path to succeed. Sitting by the roadside gets you nowhere.

It all comes down to persistence and hard work.

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Persistence is Vital

In The Strangest Secret,[1] Earl Nightingale, one of the fathers of personal development, shared a statement from President Calvin Coolidge, “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”[2] (This excerpt from Nightingale’s recording became so associated with him, many believed it was his.)

The fire of your vision for the future of yourself, your family and enterprise is the fuel that pushes you forward when things, makes you work the extra hours, and gives you the creativity to solve problems you never thought you could solve on your own.  It gives the meaning to your goals,[3] and expands your vision, letting you see the broad view as well as the long view of things. It opens worlds to you didn’t know existed.

It’s that persistence which anchors you. As John McCormack, founder of Visible Changes, and 1989 Entrepreneur of the Year, says in his book Self-Made in America, “The essential ingredients of entrepreneurship are a vision, a sense of mission, and a will to keep going forward when everyone else is telling you to go back. . . . It wasn’t brains, brawn, or even our business plan that resulted in our ultimate success.  It was persistence, plain and simple.”[4]

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It’s the thrill ride—the ups and downs of a roller-coaster—and you’re the ride operator.  And when you reach the summit, you look back on everything you’ve done and see what’s happened and you wouldn’t change it for love or money.

Should You Throw in the Towel?

But even with all that, sometimes you have to throw in the towel.

The question is when is that time?

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Before you chuck it all, there are some things to consider.  First, is your attitude.  Sure things have gone bad for the moment, but you need to realize it’s not a failure.  As long as you can pull valuable lessons from the experience, you haven’t failed.  I knew a man who priori to the recession of 2008 was pulling in six figures. The recession hit and his income plummeted. He had to get a job, which allowed him to use all of his skills. Was he a failure? Of course not, circumstances beyond his control forced him into an unpleasant situation. But he still has his business, and the other job has given him other benefits that helped him with other situations.

So if you’ve got to shut down the business—throw in your towel—learning is essential.

A legendary anecdote about Thomas Edison’s search for the perfect filament for the incandescent light bulb is that a reporter asked him how it felt to have failed over 6,000 times in his search. Edison replied, “I haven’t failed 10,000 times. I’ve just found 10,000 things that didn’t work.”  History shows only the triumph, not the time it took to reach the triumph.

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So how do you know when?[5]

Some are easy. When there is no longer a demand for what you have to offer, and you can’t figure out a way to retool the product or business. Time to shut it down.  (But then again, look at the resurgence of vinyl, which was declared dead in 1990s. Sometimes maybe put it in suspended animation, instead.) No repeat customers is deadly. If you can’t get fresh faces to your business it’ll be a slow, agonizing death, but it will be a death.

The costs are too high.[6] Losing your family, your health, the person you once were, you look at everything with jaded skepticism. At this point it’s time to reevaluate and if you can’t fix them, get out fast. Good family relationships, health and an optimistic attitude are all essential ingredients to success.  If you’ve lost your vision of your project and can’t recover it, again, it’s time to go.

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But if you must throw in the towel, remember to take lessons away, because that’s what entrepreneurs do.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash.com via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Earl Nightingale: The Strangest Secret
[2] AZQuotes: Calvin Coolidge Quotes
[3] George Ambler:Persistence: The Key to the Achievement of Meaningful Goals
[4] Google: Self-Made in America, Page 77
[5] Fox Business: Knowing When to Throw in the Towel
[6] Entrepreneur: 3 Signs That You Should Shut Down Your Business

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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