You may think that simply putting in more hours at your job will help you succeed. But according to a recent New York Times article, that may not be helping. Instead, Tony Schwartz, author of the opinion piece, says that “paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less.” Instead of pushing harder and harder, the author says that research shows that “strategic renewal” – taking various forms of breaks — can actually improve your job performance, and help your health, too. Here are some ways that you can improve your work by getting away from it:
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
You may think that burning the midnight oil is the way to complete all that you need to get done, but in reality, just getting a good night’s sleep every night may make you feel more refreshed. Generally speaking, aiming for from seven to nine hours of sleep a night is the optimum. Sleep deprivation leads to bad decision-making. In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, Harvard professor and sleep expert Dr. Charles A. Czeisler compares the dangers of sleep deprivation to drunk driving. “Putting yourself or others at risk while driving or working at an impaired level is bad enough; expecting your employees to do the same is just irresponsible,” he says. So the next time you think you can solve a work problem by staying up late, why not go home and get some sleep instead. You will think clearer with rest.
Taking a Nap
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a 20-30 minute nap can be beneficial at improving “mood, alertness and performance.” However, society still has a stigma at napping on the job, even though studies have been shown that it will improve work performance. If you work in a more relaxed workplace, or if you work at home, you should consider a daily nap if you can to feel more refreshed. Just don’t overdo it, though – the benefits of napping decrease after 30 minutes.
Use Your Vacation Time
Not only do Americans get less vacation time than most comparable countries in the world, CNN.com reports, but 57 percent of them leave unused vacation time on the table. Of course, many people are afraid to take vacations these days, worried that their employers will decide they can get along for good without them. In addition, they may not be able to afford to go anywhere fancy. Nonetheless, life coach experts say it is important for your mental and physical health to get away from your job, if only for a few days, and statistically, the Times article says that those employees who get regular recovery time have better performance.
Work in 90-Minute Increments
Athletes know the importance of recovery time when it comes to building their strength and stamina. You should be aware of it, too. In the Times article, the author suggests that people work in uninterrupted 90-minute segments, taking breaks after each one. Imagine how much more productive you could be if you worked hard for 90 minutes, knowing that you could take a break and refresh after it. Of course, you also need to know how to relax afterwards, and relaxation is a skill not many of us are good at. You can start by visiting a life coach for some ideas. To learn more, click here.
In summary, you may discover that by building strategic renewal into your day, you may be able to get more done, and feel better, too. Talk about a win-win!