When we start our career, we become so focused on performance, that soon all other things in our lives come second. Social pressure forces us to strive for success in the workplace. It appears that as we evolve, one person’s level of status, or their defining character, is correlated with how well they have climbed the corporate ladder.
It’s not about what book you’ve recently read, it’s how many hours did you put in this week. We gather around the water cooler and ask each other who’s coming in this weekend and how much overtime is being put in this weekend.
It’s a mindset that has so precisely been labeled as the, “the culture of busy.”
But why do we continue to partake in an activity that we find tedious? If we are lucky, we love what we do, but how long can we continue to put in 60+ hour weeks? How long can we sacrifice personal growth with our family? When did the fact of if your office had a window or not become more important that if you were home to read a bedtime story to your child?
It seems that on some level our priorities are changing, a shift that’s becoming greater since in order for it to slow down, we must pull back on hours worked. This main problem with that, however lies in the very title of this post: fear of a replacement.
The times where we feel burnt out are the times we push, because as they say: if you are not willing to put in the time, someone else well.
How Do We Remove This Notion?
There are a few things one can do. The first is to realize that quality will always outperform quantity. If you get the biggest sales, but work 40 hours a week, while your co-worker brings in less at 60 hours a week, you will gain leverage and be able to keep your weekends free. Essentially, you work smarter – not harder.
The second step is to create a schedule that utilizes every hour of the day. But most importantly, stick to it! There is a philosophy that used to rule the minds of men that seems to have slipped. It’s the fact that there are enough hours in a day, if you feel otherwise, you just need to learn to work efficiently. There is truth in that. Creating a set schedule will force you to buckle down and get your work done by the end of the day. By doing this, it will enable you to pinpoint time you are potentially wasting or things you can do in less time.
Combining the above two points is key to successfully cutting down your time at work: working smart and efficiently. Doing this will also help alter your state of mind. It will remove the fear of the replacement since you will be performing excellently at work.
Schedule Breaks to Regain Creative Flow
Creativity is a vital part of every job, whether your job is in finance or at a rehab facility. An essential ability we have as humans is to take on any task, examine it and break it down to achieve it in the most productive way possible. This process is done by using a mixture of our left and right brain. Getting creative about finishing projects is a taxing effort and requires time. Therefore, make sure to make time to step away from your task. Think about nothing. Or at least nothing revolving around your job. This is highlighted by Anders Erciccson, a psychologist from Florida that studied top performing musicians in Berlin.
He analyzed their time logs and correlations to their success and what he found was surprising. He discovered that the top musician were not the ones who worked the hardest, but ones who worked smart and efficiently in 90 minute segments, taking breaks and naps in between.
We can’t focus for extended periods of time, regardless if we love our job or not. Just because you work overtime, or hours on end on one task doesn’t mean you’re going to perform well. You can’t give 100% every second without rest.
So, take breaks, work smart and work efficiently. Utilize the day and know that true success is what’s done at home and not necessarily in the workplace.