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Stop Forcing the Momentum and What Off-Days Have to Do with It?

Stop Forcing the Momentum and What Off-Days Have to Do with It?

Your current pace isn’t showing any signs of slowing; it seems you’re always busy and constantly on the go. You’re working as fast as you can, but there’s no time left for you, for reflection and renewal. There’s got to be a better way to live and work.

You desperately want to find time for you, and for improving your work, your skills, for observation, for growth, but there’s now white space left on your calendar. It doesn’t take long, before you start to feel tired and inefficient because of your current situation. Yet, you don’t want to stop – in order not to break the momentum.

But is this “forced” momentum really worth it and is it actually doing you more harm than good?

The illusion of productivity

Many people consider productivity to be working as much as possible, but that isn’t the case.

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Part of the definition of productivity is also slowing down and taking a breather. However, if you are skipping the breaks then this nasty habit is going to get to you at some point: You’ll be exhausted and stress yourself out for nothing.

Another part of slowing and taking a break is for reflecting on your work processes: What have you achieved? What methods worked and which could be improved on further?

The fact is that you need to do this kind of analysis on a frequent basis. Otherwise, you can keep working and working, until you realize that you have wasted your time doing too much unnecessary work. Moreover, that this could’ve been prevented by stopping for a moment and looking around.

Forcing yourself to keep up the momentum

So what is the real reason why you keep working like this, even though you know you should stop at times?

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First, the fear keeps your wheels rolling. It’s not letting you stop, because if you do you’ll fall behind on everything – or at least that’s what fear thinks. You’re also afraid that your momentum will stop, but you should be asking where is my momentum taking me.

Second, your attitude also matters. In your words, “the more I do, the better I am as a person” may work on some level, but for how long?

If your daily life is just hard work without any reprieve, do you think that you can keep this indefinitely? Or do you think that what you are doing now is just a short-term strategy? If it’s the latter, how can you work better to reduce the stress and improve your effectiveness?

The STOP sign

So, how do you improve your situation?

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Allow yourself to stop!

Yes, allow yourself to take a break on a frequent basis for renewal, analysis, education, and planning.

This is actually a major shift in your mindset and it plays a big role in what happens next. The shift is also helping you to change your negative attitude towards taking time off. If you’d normally label yourself as a procrastinator or a lazy person if you take time off, giving yourself permission to do so can help you to quiet those negative thoughts.

It’s the same thing as if you’d be trying to lose weight: If you allow yourself to eat something unhealthy every now and then, instead of beating yourself up about it, you might actually reach your goal even faster.

From forced to relaxed momentum – how to

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1. Allow yourself to stop. This is the most crucial mindset shift you can make: allow yourself to stop at times.

2. Understand the benefits. For instance, you’d have more time to plan, analyze the past, and even prevent future mistakes from happening. The off days are also great for “sharpening the saw” – educating yourself. No matter how good you are now in what you do, you can always do better and improve. Finally, slowing down is a great way to take your mind off work for a while. This way you can have more energy for your future projects and tasks you have coming up.

3. Find the perfect time for the day off. Decide to have at least one day off dedicated on a weekly basis for analysis, planning, education, and renewal. In my case, this day is on Sunday. When I reach my off day, I know that I have also reached the end of the workweek and that I can slow down a bit. This off day gives me a needed break between the current and the coming workweek.

You can work only so much. At some point, you have to find time for planning, analyzing, and renewal. In addition, although you might find it difficult in the beginning, you’ll find it comes easier. You’ll begin to see the big picture and have more motivation to tackle your work with enthusiasm and energy. It gives you a more relaxed type of momentum.

Over to you: Do you take time off on a frequent basis?

Featured photo credit: Businessman sitting on a chair via Shutterstock

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Timo Kiander

Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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